Wednesday, 26 January 2011

the pledge

NAME: Sonny J. Barker

PRACTISE: Photography and Sculpture


I pledge to sacrificially destroy my newly published book that I have been working on for the last eighteen months. I consider it a visual essay on the accidental compositions that are evident within our socio-geographical environment. This project has been the focus of my creative practise and energies and now I need to cleanse and purge my artistic meanderings.
Through the medium of fire and the mythological powers that it symbolises such as the Phoenix and the Salamander, I may destroy what I consider beautiful to create a whole new stronger and abstract form. In the wake of the burning and when I hopefully appease Minerva, the Roman Goddess of the Arts, Magic and Wisdom I shall become a stronger and more forthright artist.

I plan to burn a 78 page freshly published and printed book that contains a visual essay of 78 pages of Colour Photographs. I have invested a hell of a long time and money into this article and I wish to sacrifially burn it. The book will be enclosed within it's original cellophane and be untouched by human hands and eyes.


busy bee, it is me

I have a busy February coming up and it all starts with the two exhibitions/events tomorrow. I am attending the BlankMedia show at the old EASA HQ building where I will be with morale for some of my fellow students who are exhibiting and then it is off to The Band on the Wall where Naomi Hendricks is hosting a silent disco/art event entitled Drawn to the Beat..should be fun and it IS free.

Also, Islington Mill in Salford is having a artist bonfire on Friday night and various artists has put a pledge in and are going to burn a piece of their work. I am burning my brand new, published and untouched book and going to do some sacrificial odd-nots.

Then it's off to Berlin on Monday morning for a week of art, fun and all what is German...going to be a good craic. After this, I have a weird show to do in London, have two kinds of medical tests and then have my book installed within Magma..I hope.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Preston Subway

Now that my hissy fit with all that is Polaroid is near it's end..I have been wandering about in Preston with my trusty 636 camera. I am fascinated with connection between one place and another and the subways in Prestons holds a significant attachment to my being. I was in care in the early eighties and we had to travel home by bus via Preston - Blackburn and had to catch a bus at the station and I still remember waiting and playing in the subways as a child..very dangerous places to be at night when you are 4-6 years old.
They are still dangerous places though but I like the almost [A Clockwork Orange] edge about the site..the car park is a gorgeous piece of architecture and is a listed building, the Helvetica used in the signage harks back to another is ageless, set in aspic. But back to the subways, I have managed to take a few photographs today that are both Polaroid and digital but would to go back and use my Makita film-based camera though. The resulting photographs may herald a newer side to my craft and I am thinking of concentrating on film-based media.


Mark Boyle

Walker Evans

Been given two names to look into by two different guys..Walker Evans and Mark Boyle are the two names that will be researched into. I already know of Evans's work, he worked in the Depression era/DustBowl parts of the Usa and photographed street scenes, portraits and the famouse working mother that has been copied many times. The only similarities with mine and Evans's work though is the capturing of the mudane street scenes and the Road-Side Markings project that I am filling my time with.

Mark Boyle is another kettle of fish altogether. He predominatley worked with light-shows in the pyschedelica era of the sixties but he worked with sculpture and focusing on road markings. he used a variety of material such as epoxy and fibreglass etc to replicate his photography.
A famous quote of his on his work ethic and technique is "(it) involves lifting the movable material on each site and holding it in the same shape until we can back it with a precise presentation of what lay underneath (i.e. the immovable material). In some cases the presentation is microscopically accurate". So in essence, he retains the original materials such as fag dimps, detritus and other matter in the final sculptures. As he is quite a new name to me I will have to seek books on him and study his work. I like to think that I work the opposite way to him..I seem to cleanse the area before I take the photographs of the markings. To me, it is not the reality that is is the compositions that I focus on..

Thursday, 20 January 2011


As a diptych..I think these two works really well

After a two month hiatus from the drug that is commonly known as POLAROID..I decided to invest in a few packs of colour and see what I can capture. I am still involved with the Road-Side Markings project as this seems to be the only constant trhat I have within my creative life and get some quite good responses with the outcomes. The book will be delivered by the 24th January and hopefully will shift some units. I have decided to burn a copy within a Artists-Bonfire at Islington Mill next Saturday as apiece of self-sacrificial action/response to the almost 18 months of hard work I have put into the book project. It'll be cathartic to see it going into flames and them into dust.

slash and burn

After the unveiling and then subsequent conversations later about my piece, I felt slightly dejected and uninspired. I know the piece was okay and had the intellectual backing but being too self critical at the best of times, I decided to destroy what I had made and [remake-remodel] the modern mantra suggests. The structure is too boxed for my liking and needs to be be more humanist. The original design was based on the segments of the spinal column and felt to me as too literal. I took a knife and began to stab at where I thought slabs should be cut off and then patched up with gum-strip and repainted.

As this is just a working model, it is subject to alterations and appendages. I do want to build a large structure out of heavy material such as wood, plastic or concrete and after new research and experimentation, I might achieve what I am setting out to construct. In all essence though, what I am trying to achieve is a large free standing piece of public art that will be utilised by the general public and eventually become part of the immediate surroundings.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

the grand tour

The day of the site-specific had come and it had gone..almost like a piece of performance art within itself. We started with the Chatham Building, ventured out to locations near the building, through the gardens, past Oxford and then up onto the library..some pieces where missed and these were looked at.

For me, the pieces that stood out where Runa's Wire Installation, Chuman's Suicide Installation, Joel's Eye Poster, Sasha's Diamond Gezzer Boots, Helen's Look Up Piece and Andrea's Bulb piece. I did like a lot of the other stuff such as the hidden book, 'Hold Your Breath' and the Plaque for Lowry..the other just ummed and ahhed for me.

I was happy with my piece and thought I placed it well within the park. I gave my spiel and descibed what I thought I'd achieved and it was nicely received. I left the piece in situ for a while but returned to it with obvious signs of wear and tear. After chatting to a fellow student about the piece, I've kind of feel that I should've done better and I am going to make some modifications. At the moment, the piece looks ominous and quite aggressive (although that may have been the point) so I will make the graduations that I meant to have put in and see what happens.

site-specific unveiling

Well it's done and dusted now. I have painted it Payne's Grey in hope that the colour will be camouflaged with the tarmac that it'll be sitting on. The place that I will be placing the sculpture should be the epicentre of the blast in 1941 and resemble the target from the bombers seat aboard the Waffen SS aeroplane..It should have been graduated and not just a standard elevation but after a busy weekend attending meetings at strange places over proposed gallery spaces..I think I have done enough.

My finished sculpture has a secondary use being that I hope that I can create a life-size version that will stand out as usable public space.. I have been in talks with the Head of Art at Blackburn Museum and the conversation was very optimistic and conducive. After further solloquies with other people, I now know what we did talk about isn't just empty air. I have two ideas for public/socio-environmental art pieces and am hoping to have this at eleven.

Friday, 14 January 2011

site-specific sculpture

As with the previous post, my attention has been fixed with the above project. After reading a little history, I found out that the Grosvenor Park/Square had a church built upon it and in 1941ish a German bomb exploded on the site. In 1949, the building was demolished and turned into gardens.. I have done some research into large scale metal sculpture and remembered Anthony Caro and his Metal City in Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

After some drawing and a few elevated diagrams, I nhave found something I like and made a polystyrene scaled maquette which in turn developed into the cardboard structure you see above. It is modelled on the trajectory/propellors of the bomb that flattened the church. I may have graduated steps along it and therefore evolve further. I am quite happy with the outcome and wold really like to make it out of steel/copper and have it 7ft tall and about 12-14ft wide at the largest part. I have to be happy with cardboard at the moment though and think about wood at a later date..or set concrete..

This small sculpture is going into the dead centre of the Park and I have a location ideal for the subject matter. The deadline is Tuesday and I think I am on a steady way into getting it finished.

Thursday, 13 January 2011


So I am back at Uni and on Tuesday, we was a given a one week project to do. The umbrella title is Site-Specific and after being warned from a friend in the year above..I have been thinking what I want to do with it. Of course when the information is given out, plans fall by the road-side... My plan is too adventurous and is being shelved for an up and coming installation at eleven.

I have two ideas that I am working with..I want to either create a cardboard (then eventually wood/metal) sculpture and place it within the Library..we have been given a constricting map..barriers etc. It is based on PCB and the silver mapping system that are evident on the back where synapses travel, this should link in with the site-specific idea but abd this is a big BUT..a bit of a gamble, carry on with the sculpture and have the mega expensive 6 foot by 10 foot piece done for the end of year or go with the Oblique Stratagies idea.

The Oblique Stratagies is the brainchild of Brian Eno who concieved a card game based on truisms..I like the riddle aspect of this. I have made my own truism/oblique stratagies that goes like this...


And will be read as thus:

consider myself a failure.
only I could

It will be made from Scrabble tiles and be cemented near or in the library. I will be using epoxy resin and will be permamnent. It then will only make sense when the sentence is read in a mantra style, being repeated until the sentence has it's logical course and the syntax is corrected.

book completed

this book IS the first of a series
Accidental Compositions

Wednesday, 12 January 2011


After meeting up with ex Interactive Arts student, Jane Samuels, at the gallery where I had my last show, I bought a book from her and had a chat about how she came about in getting the book published. I really admire her work and there was a rapport between us. Her work is like mine in little ways where we try to focus on Texture, architecture and dereliction.

The book company she is with is an internet company called BLURB. [ ] It is a self-publisking website where anybody can formulate and publish their own book. It can be on anythingthing and maybe of some use during dissertation etc. I went on the site and down;loaded the BOOKSMART package that is part of the blurb process and now on my way to finalising the book.

The book that I am publishing is called ACCIDENTAL COMPOSITIONS : Road-Side Markings and is going to be part of a series of Accidental Compostions that will focus on street decollage, dereliction and others. I'll need to write a convincing introduction for the book but its largely going to be a visual essay. Not unlike sections from The Ways Of Seeing by John Berger and the book on decollage by Jonathan Miller.

I am going to sell copies and have already amassed a few interested parties, friends and family and also associates but I want to focus on the art shops like MAGMA, FRED ALDOUS and others. They'll need to retail at around the £15 bracket if I'm going to get any return but I just want to put my name out and get on the creative/published artist ladder.. I'll give them free if it means I'll get exposure and gigs but I can't be too naiive.

Monday, 10 January 2011

A.N.D. at the CUBE Gallery

These photographs have been standing on my hard drive for a while. They are part of the Attach Normal Devices exhibition that happened at the fantastic and always delivering gallery, C.U.B.E. on Princess Street Manchester. It is actually an ambition to have my work shown there as part of a group or as a solo outing. They put on shows that are generally socio- related and are very architectural in there philosophy. CUBE is an acronym for Centre for the Urban Built would be an ideal place for my braille mosaic.

This particular exhibition was quite different, very science-based, sort of pseudo-psychological. They had concepts for unisex menstrual machines, ideas on phantom limbs and the money shot was the whisky that was made from diabetic Scottish pensioners urine. The colour of the liquor deepens with the concentration of sugar in the sufferers system. What is ironic for me though is that I couldn't partake within the tasting as I have quite a severe take on Diabetes Type blood levels are in the range of 10-18 so therefore is untouchable.

There is an arguement that the exhibits that were on show was art or just concepts of scientific origin albeit of biological and as stated above, psychological subject matter but that is the power of the [GALLERY]. This particular gallery shows exhibits that question personal judgements to what we conceive as art. I, for one, enjoy the more graphic-design, abstract and minimal side of art and would class a lot of what I saw as art. In particular MOUSETRAP TABLE and the concept for the UNDERGROUND BUNKER had a design element to them but that opens the old wound of [Is Design Art?] and yeah, it certainly is sonny-jim.

A set of photographs of ex-servicemen with phantom limbs may not have the beauty of a Caravaggio but I feel the concept and the undertaking of the project had a certain elegance. They had a certain element of poise and respect which was evident at the gallery and in total opposite, we had the silver astronaut chair. This chair had a playful sense of curiosty and with the artist present, demonstrations were available. I say that they were different only in presentation and delivery.

In all, I find the subject matter of AND thought-provoking and will certainly be remembered. I have already used osmosis in that I have attached some of there ideas within my consciousness. I have began my own research within the scientific/creative realm and already constructing what I hope will be my next work.

new reading material

As with the Selected late Essays by Clement Greenberg that I need to get through, The History of Shit by Dominique Laporte has just this morning arrived, this needs to be started in a double -quick stylee. This book has been on my to read list for the last 12 months and I haven't been able to get a copy the normal way and thanks to Amazon, I have a fresh copy sent to me from Staten Island..NY. I have started it and read through the Introduction and feels like an important addition to my creative pysche.

I am interested in what is considered the throwaway and how society deals with what it doesn't want or need anymore. At the moment, I am catalogueing garbage, trash and ruins and trying to find a philosophical answer within the realms of humanity. What I am focusing on is what is left in the street, thrownaway objects and dereliction, both human and architectural.

The History of Shit was part of the reading list that we were given last year and I have had tried to find a copy and then forgot. The reason it came to my attention was that we had lectures about The Life of Objects and only had a few pages to read, I need to track down more reading material though. Although we have a four thousand essay to write next term about 'The Formal Qualities of Hollywood Cinema', The final dissertation is hankering over my head as the gist of what we are going to write about is coming in May-June?? As I am focusing on Socio-Geographical Art..and Spatial Concepts, I need to pull my finger out.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

re-discovered ways

These two collages are re-discovered ways of doing collages within my creative practise. I tend to shy away from the messy side of collage and now have an almost OCD way towards the way I work now. I need to somehow balance the two and create a happy medium, I suppose.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

painting marathon

I am being spurned onto a painting marathon.. This Christmas I was given two A1 sized canvases and a few smaller framed ones as presents and these must be the better portion of gifts I have received, albeit I appreciate all that I have be given. After a conversation I had with an ex-tutor, I decided to heed his advice and get back into painting again..and obviously by the tone of this entry, this has happened with vigour. I am not a particularly a good painter and which was a reason for the interest in other courses other than Fine Art, I think I have a keen eye for compostion and know my limitations. I'm a keen believer in practise makes perfect and that new patrhs have to be tred once in a while to fluff up the cushions of lethargy..

I have attached three different styles of painting that I am experimenting with..
...the Yellow, Red, Black and White has been painted with four types of [pound-shop] enamel based paint..(PillarBoxRed, BlackBoardBlack, Hi-VisYellow and RadiatorWhite)
...Black, White and Bird has been painted with acrylic and so has the Horizon Study..