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By: Jo Farnell Brown

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# 60 [12 June 2012]



Always wanted a sombrero, now I've got one but nowhere to wear it.


Plan is to obtain hats and 'undo' them; take them apart entirely. It's a little fancy that's been on the back burner for ages, but it feels instinctive and different to what I have just been doing, it could prove interesting.


At this point I will take a photo of the hat before and then after its undoing. I'm thinking of placing the remnants back on the head in the same position.


I wonder whether this approach (more instinctive, quick) produces more interesting work? I worry that the more I plan and work something out, the more it sucks the life out of it.



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I love your hat idea! Just wondering if you will be undoing to a set of rules i.e.: it has to undo naturally or will you force rip/tear etc ? in a particular way - as this will influence how they become undone. Can we vote on hat choices? can I put my vote in for a 'hoxton bonnet' (circa. Radcliffe and Maconie on 6music) - unravelling to a decorative ball of wool?

posted on 2012-06-12 by Sophie Cullinan

# 59 [4 June 2012]

Myth and Homage: Merz in the field


Merz spent a day in a field, drawing just one image of the grass. I've re-enacted this with a view to create a personal ritual and homage. Merz fell upon a personal discovery that day: that 'art was the message'.


Using 80+ colour photos of a patch of grass from a field, 10 X 15cm, I wanted to find my own message using similar restrictions: the continuous line, isolation and 'being in the world'. I wanted to find out something for myself,  to experience how he felt. Drawing alone, as he did, I found that I was looking for a way to connect with drawing again in my practice.


I have found that restriction and self imposed rules have given me the most fertile ground to engage with drawing again. I have also found that I have a bold, scribbly line.


The most spontaneous approaches created the most interesting marks/  responses. A continuous line on a small space requires a certain amount of determination and concentration, but I managed to draw without thinking, with an empty mind. Each line is connected, no line exists in isolation but in direct relation to another. When the pen left the page, the drawing was over.


A crucial point came when I hit my reserves, and in danger of repeating previous drawings and becoming too self aware of mark making. This is when I made some interesting work, after I had churned out the rubbish!  These drawings have been a process. I'm thinking about how they could be useful.



# 58 [28 May 2012]


I've been testing out a few different formats for the drawings: the black and white photo isn't grassy enough colour it is. I want it to be clear that it's a drawing on a photo of some grass.


The size has been reduced to a tiny 10 by 15cms and I will print out as many as I can before my printer finally blows.


I've found a certain freedom already in the mark making process and it would be great if I could produce 100 drawings on the day. I've surprised myself because these are gestural marks, not meant to be anything other than filling a very small page.


I can relate to Marion Michell's comment about the issue of re-approaching drawing and the problem of making the first mark. I think the constraints placed on this way of drawing has released me from the burden of any representational expectations.

# 57 [27 May 2012]

Being in the world


Merz made his drawing last all day and didn't take the pencil off the paper. I'm not going to attempt that. A re-enactment is part interpretation and ritual.


It was only by chance that I discovered how to respond to Merz's time in the field: I doodled carelessly on one of the grass photos. Instead of faithfully recreating Merz's grass drawing, I want to draw on as many photos as it takes for my time in the field.


Merz's work that day was about 'being in the world' and not painstakingly reproducing what he saw in front of him. Each drawing should be mindless, about nothing. The question is, how long can I sustain thoughtless drawings?

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Fascinating! I hadn't heard that story about Merz but it seems to make perfect sense to me. It is almost as if, on his first day of freedom, he tried to re-assemble himself on all kinds of levels, incl. as an artist. I like the way you've taken it up, doubly mediated: inspired by his activity and/but using your photographs. Also makes me realise that this could be a way for me to start drawing again. Not on photographs or anything, but without something concrete in mind, just focusing on the gesture, and really getting into it. Have been struggling to make a first mark on anything, under pressure of making something coherent. Not necessary - ha!

posted on 2012-05-27 by Marion Michell

# 56 [26 May 2012]

Mario Merz and the Artist's Mythology


One day this week I will be spending the entire day in isolation, drawing. Just like Mario Merz did way back in 1945.


As the story goes, re-told by the man himself forty years later, the day he left prison he spent from 'dawn to dusk' alone in a field drawing the grass. This piece of work no longer exists.


Merz created a mythology around this performance. By recreating this action I intend to adopt this into my own, personal mythology.


He used pencil on one small piece of paper, continuously with one line, never leaving the surface of the paper. What struck me was the contemplative and immersive nature of this type of mark making. Celant observed that Merz aim was to "submerge the self consciousness of gesture within the immediacy of existence in the world".


My starting point began with some basic photos of a patch of grass in a field. I wondered if it is possible to re-enact Merz's immersive drawings onto a series of these photos? How necessary is it to produce 'something'?



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I'll show you mine if you show me yours!

posted on 2012-05-27 by Elena Thomas

Drawing in isolation for a long period of time is something I've never done before so I'm trying not to anticipate too much and see what will come of it.

posted on 2012-05-27 by Jo Farnell Brown

I think the isolation is great for reflection because it brings up all sorts of joy and desperation often in equal measure - I have been on retreats but not thought of incorporating my art practice - time to get out the tent and head off somewhere peaceful! I am a fan of Art Povera also and sadly missed Merz's exhibition in Leeds last year - I hadn't heard this story so thanks for posting about it - happy field drawing!

posted on 2012-05-27 by Rosie Kearton

Great plan! I've been encouraging people to work alone in my shed! I shall be spending 2 or 3 days in my shed which will be moved to a Worcestershire garden in June. I don't know what I shall do yet. Maybe draw or write, but I'm really looking forward to the isolation and the peace to think!

posted on 2012-05-26 by Elena Thomas

# 55 [7 May 2012]

Kevin Bacon and the BBQ volcano


I've noticed a running theme on postcard messages; the weather.


But I am interested in the senders, and in particular want to begin weaving my own narrative into the story. A postcard from Lanzarote in 1992 from Kevin and Tina mentioned a 'barbeque cooked by the heat of a volcano'. So droll.


I like playing along with the idea that it could have been postcard from Kevin Bacon (Footloose). I've begun to make a few images incorporating the wood chip wallpaper but actually I want to steer away from illustration. Right now I'm undecided as to whether it should feature at all.


The line of enquiry into 'lies' is perhaps merging into one of popular mythology, particularly in the case of the Kevin Bacon game:



# 54 [3 May 2012]

Lies, Lies, Lies



Mythomania: an excessive or abnormal propensity for lying and exaggerating

or/ pseudologica fantastica





I watched Pamela Meyer's talk on TED: 'How to spot a liar' -

which led me to considering documenting a conversation as a transcript, and including body language and other lie leakage in brackets for instance.  


Michael Shermer's TED talk: 'the pattern behind self deception',

discussed the patterns behind self deception and showed images used by Susan Blackmore's ESP tests, whereby scrambled images are perceived by the viewer to contain a picture of something. More so if an outline is included. I've begun this line of enquirey by abstracting a photo to the point of remoteness. Perhaps it is worthy to look at how something can be reproduced and twisted to an end point. 


I came to the realisation that alot of my recent work falls under the theme of lies: deception, untruths and falsehood. I could have a body of work so to speak.

I also found that every year in a country pub in Cumbria, a competition is staged to find the World's Biggest Liar.

So lying can be a performative act and even woven into local culture. 


I had been short on finding base material but rediscovered a pack of handwritten postcards boughts from a charity shop years ago. I'm looking forward to reading through them again to see what I can find.

woolly hat

woolly hat

cassette player

cassette player



# 53 [1 May 2012]

I've also been working on the concept of reducing objects back to the sum of their parts: namely, to begin with, one of those horrible crying dolls, a kid's woolly hat and a cassette tape.


I kind of wish that I was one of those clever people that could take something apart and then put it back together again. But I'm not! Such is life.


It's a little macabre, sure (the objects were bought at random from a charity shop and the dump). In a way it's looking at what these objects really are... the doll is stuffing, wires and circuit boards.


Would it be pointless to put them back together again?

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this has reminded me that I cast a whole load of doll limbs in latex a while ago and had forgotten about them - they were a bit odd - I think I will have to dig them out again and have another look - it didn't seem quite the right time to use them and things always occur later with stuff when that happens - I will post some photos when I find them.....

posted on 2012-05-07 by Sophie Cullinan

I think the doll is too macabre; actually now I come to think of it, it reminds me of a horrific photo image I once saw in an artists book about collage, it was the aftermath of a blast. Maybe if there was some order imposed it would appear less dark. Fair point though, doll parts are interesting.

posted on 2012-05-07 by Jo Farnell Brown

these look more macabre grouped together as separate but linked pictures. Even though you say what they are they still seem to all be body bits. Doll parts are odd - I bought an arm in a Brocante in France once - not sure why I liked it but don't think I would have liked it as much 'attached' to the rest of the doll

posted on 2012-05-04 by Sophie Cullinan

# 52 [30 April 2012]

Continuing an investigation into lies and mythomania, I've begun writing snippets of overheard conversations directly onto wood chip wallpaper.

Documenting actual real life conversations has always intrigued me, but even more so, are the lies uttered by others. But I want to write lies about lies.




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There's a certain distance created using stencilled words whereas the hand written is inherantly personal. I am toying with questions around how to approach this. Also the notion of truth is a wobbley one at best.

posted on 2012-05-01 by Jo Farnell Brown

also... your lies are stencilled, my truth is hand-written...

posted on 2012-05-01 by Elena Thomas

I'm very interested in your lies... I've been thinking about disguising truth, or at least making it difficult to read. What use is the truth if no one else can read it?

posted on 2012-05-01 by Elena Thomas

# 51 [16 April 2012]

wood chip investigations


I took the wood chip down off the wall and traced out the folds, mapping out the lines that formed an encasing around the dead de-bobbler.


This photo shows the traced mapping laid over the de-bobbler.


I'm not sure what to make of it all just yet.


Anyhow, I have another line of enquiry which looks towards a tenuous connection between the wood chip ordinarilly being used to cover damaged walls, a deception of sorts and that of telling lies; mythomania.

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