The Overdraught

Proud to have been a small part of the creative team who manifested Nottingham's newest craft beer pub in Canning Circus - The Overdraught.   Formerly being a bank (and fancy dress shop!) gave me lots of scope to research the unique heritage of this building.   I never knew that Nat West’s origins date back to 1658 with the foundation of Smith's Bank of Nottingham - just streets away from The Overdraught. 

According to the British Museum, early reactions to the introduction of bank notes varied. A local note from East Anglia was inscribed with the following cynical verse:

The rage for banking now is grown
So great in country and in town,
That all our Rags, Shirts, Shifts and Coates,
Will soon be turned to One Pound Notes  

There are also big links with local Derbyshire industries and the development of banking.

"The early mechanization of the textile industry and the applications of new technologies, including Richard Arkwright’s (Derbyshire) water frame for the cotton spinning wheel, revolutionized production in the textile mills. More efficient ways of weaving cotton helped Manchester become the most important British centre of the cotton industry (often called ‘Cottonopolis’) and the world’s first industrial city. Paper money issued in Lancashire shows the importance of the textile industry in the county."

If you are a craft beer fan, you are in for a treat.


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Consider Constable

I’m continuing work on my Consider Constable series… seeking out the precise places Constable created his paintings, absorbing the feel, history and sense of time passing where he and I stood.  As a result, each image in the Consider Constable collection has a strong connection to his work and life. He was innovative, brave, prolific and hard-working and I want my images to carry a sense of this past into the present.  Please see the prints section of the website for completed works.

Featured image: Pastures Present and Past Years Present looks towards Dedham from Constable’s father’s mill at Flatford.

Brain scans reveal the power of art

According to a recent study, works of art can give as much joy as being head over heels in love.

Human guinea pigs underwent brain scans while being shown a series of 30 paintings by some of the world's greatest artists.

The artworks they considered most beautiful increased blood flow in a certain part of the brain by as much as 10 per cent – the equivalent to gazing at a loved one.

Paintings by John Constable, Ingres, the French neoclassical painter, and Guido Reni, the 17th century Italian artist, produced the most powerful 'pleasure' response in those taking part in the experiment.

Works by Hieronymus Bosch, Honore Damier and the Flemish artist Massys – the 'ugliest' art used in the experiment – led to the smallest increases in blood flow. Other paintings shown were by artists such as Monet, Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci and Cezanne.

Professor Semir Zeki, chair in neuroaesthetics at University College London, who conducted the experiment, said: "We wanted to see what happens in the brain when you look at beautiful paintings.

"What we found is when you look at art – whether it is a landscape, a still life, an abstract or a portrait – there is strong activity in that part of the brain related to pleasure.

"We put people in a scanner and showed them a series of paintings every ten seconds. We then measured the change in blood flow in one part of the brain.

"The reaction was immediate. What we found was the increase in blood flow was in proportion to how much the painting was liked.

"The blood flow increased for a beautiful painting just as it increases when you look at somebody you love. It tells us art induces a feel good sensation direct to the brain."

The test was carried out on dozens of people, who were picked at random but who had little prior knowledge of art and therefore would not be unduly influenced by current tastes and the fashionability of the artist.

The magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan measured blood flow in the medial orbitofrontal cortex, part of the brain associated with pleasure and desire.

The study, which is currently being peer reviewed, is likely to be published in an academic journal later this year.

Professor Zeki added: "What we are doing is giving scientific truth to what has been known for a long time – that beautiful paintings makes us feel much better.

"But what we didn't realise until we did these studies is just how powerful the effect on the brain is."

The study is being seized upon as proof of the need for art to be made as widely available to the general public as possible.

Image shown: Constable's Gold, part of my Consider Constable series.





Kant's Sublime Shortlisted

It has been a good year so far for Kant's Sublime as it was shortlisted for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and National Open Art Competition.

The Kant's Sublime was inspired by a lecture. Studying extracts from The Critique of Judgement by German Philosopher Kant I was fascinated by his theories on art; ways of seeing, interior and exterior mapping in the mind. 

I became transfixed by the marks on the edges of the photocopied lecture handouts, making copies of these copies. I cut them up, collaged them and photographed them over again.

A simple photocopy sent me thinking about Kant’s philosophies in the everyday. These prints are a visual outcome of his theories on perception. Hundreds of years later his thoughts have both informed and become part of my landscape.

Drawing with Light

"Impressionists were actually realists as they believed the truth came from light.  We only see things because of light, therefore we ought to paint in white and/or the colours of the rainbow, no black.  They said there was no fixed reality, only fleeting moments (Monet), like a reflection in a pond, it is all transient"   Unknown.

As an artist who usually uses photography at some point of my creative process, I love this quote as it reminds me of the definition of photography - drawing with light.  On sunny days like these it is easy to acknowledge and appreciate fleeting moments as the light is more obvious; dancing between shadow and light.  There seems to be a direct link between the energy of light and the creative flow. As an artist, I see it as an honour and responsibility to acknowledge 'the fleeting'.


In the image of Kant

After attending a symposium about the German philosopher Kant, I became fascinated by his theories on art, ways of seeing, interior and exterior mapping of the mind.

Although intrigued by his theories, I also found myself transfixed by the physicality of his words; specifically the edges of the pages of his ‘Critique of Judgment’ manifested as parallel marks made by the photocopied handouts

I introduced these marks to my mapping process; collage, camera lens and software.

Two and a half centuries later his thoughts have informed both perception and representation by becoming part of my visual outcomes.

Prints will become available in the shop section.