Monday, December 23, 2013

Iris Pictures

My major artwork of 2013 is nearing completion and today I added the thrust bearings to make the doors open more easily, and they work! Here are the first photos of the finished artwork.

That is the cabinet with the doors closed. The doors are 3mm MDF with a 6mm limewood top which has been carved, then gilded with 23.5kt gold. The whole construction was made using hand tools or hand power tools. I wanted to avoid laser cutting or computer controlled machining. Using something that was computer controlled would have made the job a lot easier, particularly cutting those curving slots which needed to be very accurate and work first time! In the end I used a jigsaw.

However, the easiest way is rarely the best, and I think that skill is an important part of what it means to be an artist because it aids self-expression, and therefore the quality of an artwork. Of all things I like learning new techniques, and I gained a lot from this, certainly my most complex creation to date.

The seven doors slide open to reveal the painting...

The Rape of Eden by Monkeys is about damage to the environment and I wanted something that was eye-catching, stunning, amazing, different, a combination of engineering and art, but at the same time an artwork that was true to itself, where the cabinet matched and complimented the painting.

Here the circular Eden and Earth, partly inspired by the globe on the outer cabinet of Hieronymous Bosche's Garden of Earthly Delights, is complimented by the golden surround of the sun.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Rape of Eden by Monkeys

My main project of the year has been my Eden iris, a large circular cabinet with doors that open like an iris diaphragm. It's nearing completion and here is the main painting contained within it. I aborted a first version of this, so this is the second version.

It's called The Rape of Eden by Monkeys, a simple overt metaphor for environmental destruction by humanity. The painting is filled with animals, hidden here and there, extant and extinct from a dodo and a quagga to a tigers, giraffe, rhino etc.

Broadly speaking it's a burning Garden of Eden. There is destruction, but the painting isn't all negative. In the distance is the tree of life, gilded with white gold. Adam and Eve gaze at the tree peacefully. A planet Earth in the sky also offers hope, this isn't Earth but a vision of one, a warning perhaps.

This painting is oil on panel, 500mm across. The cabinet, which is almost a metre across and weighs about 15kg, is still not complete, but will be soon.

I'll be developing a unique custom design of circular frame for a series of 100 extremely limited edition prints. I want each print to be framed in a custom, non moving, variation of the gold iris cabinet.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Wombles

Wombles

Underground overground wandering free,
the ragged of Wimbledon Common are we.
Making the most of the things that we find.
We are the people the world left behind.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Bites of Greatness

My main task now is music and the release of my next album, Bites of Greatness. I wanted to get started on new music in October but lots of other things, the Eden Iris, the Artsfest, Future Nouveau! got in the way. I'm making time!

Less than one week ago I finalised the track listing for Bites of Greatness, many of the tracks were written earlier in the year, partly inspired by Tim Prevett on Red Shift Radio who really liked my album Stupid Computer Music. I wanted to write something similar, catchy electronic tunes, sort of like the chart single releases by Jean-Michel Jarre or Vangellis. I used to think it odd that Jarre would make one track that was obviously "the single", why not make a whole album of those good ones - I thought! I wanted Bites of Greatness to be like that.

The last track Trax was actually a distant remake of an Amiga tune I wrote in the 1990's. I'm not a fan of re-working old stuff (it's much more interesting to make something new) but this one was quite good and deserved some modern production. I completed Trax on Saturday night, Nov 30th, and for good measure finished another new tune called France TV. The original title was just "France" in my sequencer and I didn't bother thinking up a new title, so just stuck with it. Amazingly the first run through of that one sounded fine so I decided to forget about any further refinements and call it done.

In the last three days I've finalised the artwork, added a page of the album to my website, with clips, set up the products, made some new edits and, today, sent the final tracks to the distributors for submission to iTunes, Amazon and others.

For the artwork I wanted a mix of every day objects with "bites" taken out of them. Here's a metal candle holder with bit missing. It also shows the track listing...

And here's the cover. It's rather grey and steely, but I think that look will appeal to people who like that sort of music, and I liked the idea of a clock on the cover too.

Like all of my music now it's made using software I programmed myself. I designed all of the algorithms, from the sample generation and filters to the reverbs. I'm probably the only music artist in the world who has created all of the instruments and the artwork - well, there can't be that many, but I had lots of help from the unseen shoulders of giants that post helpful snippets of code and assistance on the Internet. Like anything, programming a computer is learnable.

Next task; to make some videos, I think. Then, onto the next album; Black and White. There's always a balance between creation and promotion. I probably create too much, especially as most of the albums haven't sold more than one copy and nobody's really heard most of the work! But if the iron is hot, what can we do but strike? I'd rather have too many ideas than push too few too much. I'll leave those tactics to the major record labels.

Bites of Greatness will be available from various download distributors in a few weeks, and on www.marksheeky.co.uk from December 16th 2013. There are a few sound clips on my website already, and some more on my SoundCloud.