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In October , I produced a mural installation for Element Arts and Willbox as part of an arts festival in Southampton. The city makes an appropriate venue for a container project as it’s a port city, with nearby freight and train yards. It has also played an important part in the South-Coast graffiti scene over the years, at times being home to members of NT , DBS, 54 and 101 crews (all of which made good use of the local facilities).

Strange then, to now be supported by the enthusiastic young owner of a local shipping firm to paint their containers, and actually invited into their yard to paint during the day; funny how times change!

Transported was an arts project that explored ideas around global trade, consumption and waste. One container housed an art installation entitled “The Museum of the Future Now”, a satirical look at how the wastefulness of our times will be viewed by people of the future. The project also hosted artist talks, performances, live music and poetry. One day of the project coincided with Mexico Day, so we had a mariachi band and some performances about the disappeared women in Mexico, a rapidly growing problem in the region caused by the cocaine trade.

For my part, I wanted to create something that used the containers themselves as an art piece that discussed the ideas outlined by the Transported brief. I’ve always loved the way freight yards look; like giant playgrounds full of brightly coloured building blocks. Containers have a bright, innocent appearance, yet they facilitate everything the consumer age has to offer; flat screens, smart phones, food, drugs, guns and people are all ferried through their walls. Despite being an innocuous steel box, the container underpins the problematic nature of our times, and I wanted my installation to reflect that.

Whilst painting the containers I was often asked;  what does it mean? A question I shy away from, partly because I always have a list of ideas  in my head and I can never condense them into one punchy answer, and partly because I’m not sure meaning really works like that. One person walked up to me and confidently reported that the piece was a comment on refugees and the growing refugee crisis in Calais,  another assumed it was a nod to the term “sleeping giants” sometimes used for stationary freight trains in the yard. I guess the point for me is to open the meaning up, rather than pin it down to any one thing.

The project was situated in the farcical Arts Quarter of Southampton city center, adjacent to where the new “Art Center”  will be opened. In reality this is just a continuation of the bland corporate development Southampton has been subjected to over the years; luxury apartments and retail units, (the first part to open to the public was Nandos). The whole things is so blatantly corrupt that when they did the photo-op with the usual duchebags in-front of the site pretending to lay a brick or whatever they actually forgot to write Art Center on the signage in the background and just had Apartments and Retail Units written there instead. Over 1o years of waiting, 25m of  funding and all we got was a new home for one of the existing galleries and a load of shitty shops. In a town with 3 failed shopping malls in the same square mile, this really was not the best use of the money!

Despite being a frustrating situation, the context of this development made a really appropriate site for our project, and as one person said- “its nice to finally have some art in the arts quarter”. In a place like Southampton that has been so hammered by cuts, and where centralised money rarely reaches the right hands, its great to see projects like Transported still happening, propelled by the momentum and hard work of grass roots organisations like Element Arts. Despite it being quite a slog to get actually paint the containers in a short space of time, I found the project a strangely optimistic and energising experience, largely thanks to the many interesting and proactive people I met along the way.  Extra big thanks to Element Arts and to Chris from willbox for making it all happen.




Been working on a load of new paintings this year. I got so fed up with spending half my studio time preparing new canvases and waiting for primer and grounds to dry that I gave up on primed canvas and have been painting on raw cotton and then sealing it after.earlier this summer I did do some oils on board, but on the whole its been mainly ink and wet acrylic on unprimed canvas. One of the things I always like about painting outside is that it forces you to be quick, make decisions and resolve a painting in one session or so. Taking that approach back into the studio has been really useful, my success rate is less than before, but as its been a productive process I still end up with a decent amount of keepers.

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miscellaneous murals

Its been an intense year with not enough of my own artwork happening in the last few months, I’m rapidly approaching 30 and it turns out that getting married and or having babies is the thing to do for people my age apparently.  Most the summer has been spent  trekking around the country to various weddings, celebrations and stag do’s which has made it a less productive time on the art front. That being said, I did make it out to Croatia, and to Athens painting, and have a load of new paintings Ive not shown yet. I’m finally back in the studio and the new series of paintings is nearly finished, also been working on my container project and a big wall to do next week so, back in the groove just about. Here’s a couple of murals from Croatia and Athens. Blindfolds are the new black it seems- not sure what that about!


croatia ATHENS 2015


I spent most of October through December working on new sculptures. I’ve been teaching my self to cast, and have been experimenting with different kinds of mold making- silicone particularly. Its been a fairly steep learning curve, and errors can add up a bit as the materials – resin and silicone etc are quite pricey- but I’m making progress and my mold making is now half way passable.

I’m still deciding whether or not I can consider these new bits complete, part of me want to keep playing around with them- and another sees a new year as a neat place to draw a line and to start on a new body of works. Either way I can see me using more casting in future projects.

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So, this year painting murals has taken a bit of a back seat to the studio. I got bored of my pieces, and sculpture is  feeling more new and exciting to me right now so I guess I’m just following that impulse through.  That being said- I’ve still made time for a couple of bits.

The Stokes Croft ARts fest in Bristol had me down to paint a couple of spots (ages ago I know..) I was going to take out the big thing off Jamaica St that used to have Josh and I’s “Limited Press” piece- but I was about 2 days out of a plaster cast so decided to go for a smaller spot that didn’t require clambering up scaffolding. In the end I took out one of the Carriage Work’s arches and a plot on City Road over an old piece of mine from a few years ago. I thought I should tidy it up as it had a small pen tag on the background- ironic really as the new version got properly dogged out about 5 days later!

I also painted a Courthouse in Eastleigh recently. More fishes and things sinking- I’m not quite sure why but this seems to be the theme right now.

I also seem to be leaning towards quicker, simpler and less labored paintings- think that’ll be the tip for a while at least.

oh. And the last image was a painting with my old painting buddy Meek. We hadn’t seen each other in a while and turned out we had nearly the same exact drawing of a mountain in each of our sketchpads. There’s a tradition of this sort of thing happening, which either means we have similarly great minds or we’re both idiots…hmm, I think I can see where this is leading… Anyway, we painted upsidedown mountains to celebrate and then celebrated some more at the Bell.





fishes fish detail


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all those horrible scribbles

I broke my foot recently, which is another story altogether, but one of the bi-products of that has been sitting  at home doing lots of drawing. I went through 3 sketchpads in the first week alone… which felt like I was close to going insane by the end of it, but the positive spin was that for the first time in ages I could  fully indulge my compulsion to write  in funny lettering, and at the same time do a bit of self indulgent pondering on the subject.

As someone who has a borderline Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in relation to writing on things, I’m fully aware that most of the world doesn’t share my enthusiasm for the written word when it escapes from its allotted  context and surfaces as a graffiti scribble (least of all when it ends up  as 4 foot high letters scrawled across their dry stone wall saying something like “enema”). In fact, it’s so unanimous a sentiment that only the phrase:  “are you Banksy?!” beats  “I like these colorful murals, just not all those horrible scribbles” as the most commonly repeated statement offered up by the public (to those out painting). We have running tally’s sometimes- try and beat the person painting next to you to 10 I bet your Banksy’s before lunch or something like that. Anyway, given that the jury of “most people” is unanimous in dismissing tags as a load of shite, scribbles , dogs pissing on lampposts and irrelevant gang signs- what is it that appeals to some people  (or maybe just silly people) like me?

This question is something I’ve been thinking about quite a lot over the last couple of weeks,  and as it turns out isn’t actually that easy to answer. Now obviously, when I say that I like tags I mean some tags, I like tags in a theoretical way; I like  good tags. In reality – I’m probably about as likely to commission our man “enema”  to tag my front door as the local neighbourhood-watch committee; so I guess what I’m actually talking about is the practice of designing lettering (under a specific set of rules),  as oppose to the politics involved with applying said lettering to private property (which is another thing entirely).

So starting from the top, why do I like tags?

One thing that comes to mind is that you can  pretend with some-stuff, try to wing it and no-one will ever really be any the wiser, but that is not the case with tags; there is no easy way to get good at them- you just have to do millions of them, and keep doing it for years to get any good (and even then you might still be useless). After a bit of practice, anyone with photoshop and a few spraycans can do a passable photo-realistic painting of a celebrity they fancy  – but not just anyone with a spraycan can produce a decent tag. Beyond practice and technique,  producing a decent tag takes imagination- (and maybe even a sense of humor, but I could be on my own with that one…)

One of the things with working within a confined set of rules, is that it takes true imagination  to make something interesting within that tight space. Tags could be seen as that, a confined framework, like a chess-board, and doing anything unexpected within those four walls takes a certain amount of experience and creativity. When all other concerns are stripped away, concept, meaning , form, colour-balance etc… all that is left to develop is style. A comparison might be the Chinese practices of calligraphy, or even martial arts, where a person studies the same sequence of moves, or  the same characters repeatedly for years and years until they understand how they work, and then with further practice and study eventually it would be the  deviations from these original forms that would turn the student into the master.

Thats the theory, and like most things its a lot easier to explain in theory than in practice. I discovered this recently when my house mate asked me to explain what makes a good tag, and I realised I after flabering away for a few minutes that I couldn’t really do it. ( I mean, what makes one singer better than another- It sounds better-  It looks nicer…?) “Its about style, the letters have to have a good style-  so what makes a good style?  “ahh….”

And then you realise your actually into a complicated discussion about the nature of taste and aesthetics and you might just as well be asking; Why do yummy- mummy cafe’s favour the colour Duck Egg Blue?  So I’ll quit while I’m behind and show you some pictures of tags.

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Studio moves

My studio has now moved into its 8th incarnation, (and 3rd one in less than a year). I’ve re-homed my funny little sculptures, built new places for my tat and finally have a working art-nest which is new and improved but  also  familiar. Its been a ball-ache but I think all the upheaval has been worth it and I consider this one an upgrade. More space, more light , a window that opens and this one even flashes a cheeky bit of view through a few clear glass panels.  Ahh the good-life… I wasn’t quite expecting to be neighbors to the Church of Enlightened Christ’s(or something like that) Power Sundays however. They are pretty powerful, and if were to flag on the spiritual front, at least they’d have a PA system the size of a small spaceship to make up for it. Luckily for me God only likes people to be really noisy on Sundays, so its nice and peaceful the rest of the time.

It took a good couple of weeks to fit the space out. I put in a mezzanine storage thingy , some paint racks and built in desks and stuff. Finally got all that sorted now and have enjoyed a couple of quiet weekends making new work. I actually pretended I was away for the weekend so no-one would phone me and tempt me away from my new den…I’m probably still a bit too young to be indulging in that degree of hermitage but I think it was worth it.



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Meeting of styles 2014

I had planned to be going to the Carnival in Bristol this weekend, so decided to warm up for the festivities with a quick paint in London on Friday before I went. As it turns out, the wall I got given (courtesy of GlobalStreetArt) was  bang in the middle of where the annual Meeting Of Styles graffiti Jam was taking place. A bit confusing at first but the Long and short of it was that I ended-up tagging onto the jam rather than heading to Bristol to drink rum and listen to reggae. Well worth the change of plan- got to see a load of painters I’ve not seen in years and  quite a few of the Bristol lot ended up here anyway!

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Open Studios/ 3 day sweatathon

My first London open studios was a couple of weeks back, so just went through the old routine of clearing away all the studio crap, painting the walls white, hiding the valuables and waiting for the influx of weirdos to begin. Despite its oddness, its allways rewarding in a funny way and this year was no exception.

Unlike other Open Studios I’ve done, for this one we had an Opening night, which was spectacular.It was a fantastic evening and I finally got a chance to meet the other 70 odd artist who lurk about somewhere in the maze of closed studios. As per the usual it ended in the pub, this time with a funny mix of karaoke and art analysis to help the beer go down. For some reason the pub didn’t really shut, (in retrospect I think it might have been a lock-in type scenario but no-one seemed to notice at the time) which slightly elongated the night and the walk home was accompanied by bird song.

The success of the first night made Saturday a bit uncomfortable- a fact definitely amplified by the formidable sun that weekend, which turned my well-lit attic space into a green-house. It was busy downstairs, but not many people got past the wall of heat that lingered around the top of the stairs to greet them into my space. That being said, I still managed to meet lots of cool people and got some interest for future projects and sales which is always a bonus. By Sunday I had pretty much had enough of sitting in an unventilated glasshouse and ended up abandoning ship early to paint in the park with Some of the Bristol/London gang who popped over for the day.I Didn’t paint anything ground-breaking, just some basic letters (about all my overheated brain could manage).

The Open studios kind of fizzled out after a great start, but I’m due to be moving downstairs into the cool soon- so hopefully next year will be a little more palletable!

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Whats UP

I’ve spent the last couple of months working on my installation for the Whats UP show at the Southampton Showcase Gallery.
The premise of the show was to get 4 artists (myself, Joe Ross, Stuart Rodda and Duncan Newland) who have a connection to both Southampton and graffiti/street making work which bridged the gap between gallery work and street art. Technically I’m from Bristol, but seeing as I first got caught for Graffiti in Southampton, I think I qualify on both counts!

Its been pretty full on this last few weeks – getting everything together but its been great. This was a really productive brief for me, as it allowed me the freedom to pull together different aspects of my practice, and just enjoy making things without having to edit myself too much. It was also great to work with an organised gallery and to have a bigger budget and a larger space  to play with ,and to have everything sorted out for me, (leaving me free to just make the artwork and then enjoy the free beer!).

The Open night was a huge success (busiest show so far apparently so that’s always nice), so hopefully brought in a new crowd for the gallery too.

Thanks to everyone who came down, and to all involved for making it a great event!


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