ciempozuelos 28/03/15



Today I added another group: the one I used for the polyptych ‘The Forgotten’. I managed to scale up a bit and apart from problems with proportion as usual I most of the figures are a little over life size rather than a little under. I have been considering different ways to more effectively scale up. Use either grids or a projector – the projector would have to work without a cable which I do not know is even possible. I do not have a projector anyway. I might consider the use of a grid but has to be loosely applied so as to keep the flow of the lines. Sometimes using a grid has not worked well for me. I prefer slightly out of proportion rather than stiff.

I also measured the metal beams – 280 cm above the floor. I could have stayed longer today but there were too many people around and then some kids started playing football downstairs. I think the weekends are a bad time. In the week is better.

I also need to look for images.


I added white to this one as I hadn’t diluted the acrylic enough. The white is too clean but then I started throwing water at it which worked better – that was when the kids came so I couldn’t go on working.

I am now thinking of all the questions I need to consider.

Scale – At the moment I am struggling to make the figures slightly bigger than myself instead of slightly smaller than myself. This originally goes back to my desire to make the workers dignified like the figures in history paintings (and how they feel in the Louvre for example – larger than life). However I do not want to make the figures necessarily heroic or more important than others they should still be unknown non specific people – the everyperson.



art references

Carpenters, Ironmongers, Chickens and Pigs (21/03/15)

After talking to Angela in my tutorial I decided to use the workshops on the edge of Ciempozuelos for the Exploratory Project. This is to see how I work in this situation. I have never worked in this way so it is, in a sense, an experiment. I can use this project as a testing ground for this type of work. In part to see how I work on site and what effect that has on me and also to measure its success. I can do this by getting feedback as well as my own reflections. I can also use the documentary evidence to support me in applying for other projects.

I haven’t found out so much information about the workshops yet so I tried asking my friend’s father for his memories as he had worked there. He says he remembers many carpenters and some ironmongers. He also says people kept animals such as chickens and pigs.

I therefore need to collect or construct images I can use in the space – starting with carpenters I  thought of biblical subjects as a starting point – appropriating existing work. This might have been as last Thursday was San José (Saint Josephs)  – father’s day – a national holiday so it was topical. In the sudio I made a sketch of Millais’ christ in the house of his parents

:IMG_0011        Christ in the House of His Parents ('The Carpenter's Shop') 1849-50 by Sir John Everett Millais, Bt 1829-1896

I particularly like the way I painted the image of the child (not Jesus not sure who he is) looks like child worker IMG_0006

pig tangiers This painting I saw last summer on a wall in Tangiers and it may help



On site 22/3/14

con techo


Since mid March the weather has changed and this has made me re-think using a space with no roof for task 4. Although I will change from charcoal to acrylic paint as the materials I am going to focus on the new space I found last week (above) which has not only a roof but metal beams from which I might be able to hang work. This space seems to meet my needs so after a long weekend of rain I managed to get to Ciempozuelos  but with limited materials and had time to sketch a little using diluted acrylics. I used an image of group of workers as a starting point it is not clear what their profession is but they are all male and wearing overalls so for the experiments I felt it could work.

ciempo 3 22:3      ciempo 22:3 4      ciempo 22:3      ciempo 22:3 2


I would like to increase the scale of the figures and dilute the acrylic more. I also need to consider colour and how to use the space. I like the overlaying on other people’s drawings or grafitti but did not feel comfortable drawing over finished work even though I would like to see how it works. I may have to resort to transparent plastic or  photoshop to see how this would look.


The Prison

carcel 1


My Proposal for the Prison in Segovia was based on the idea of how memory affects how we see people. We tend to get stuck and focus on aspects of the past which remain with us. Other events or moments become ‘lost’ to our conscious memory.

carcel 3


We also use fantasy and imagination to make our memories, we select and erase some people or events. We focus on different times and places. Our memories distort the way remember people and our relationships.

carcel 6


Using my existing work from the communities on the wall I made a ‘mock’ installation of how I would use the existing poles to hang see-through plastic with another layer of ‘portraits’ of the communities to which the prisoners may have belonged. These would be groups of workers from trades and industries of Segovia in the twentieth century and family groups of the same time.

In the end my submission was not successful it seems they were mainly chose performance and photography, however I am glad I started these experiments as it has helped me develop my ideas for the exploratory project.

Ciempozuelos 2

Today I returned to the disused workshops in Ciempozuelos to see how I felt to actually work there. I wanted to try hanging existing work to see how it fit in the space and to try some initial drawing on the walls. This was following my tutorial with Angela on Monday in which she suggested that for this project I would be better not worrying about an audience but be free to experiment with new ideas without that pressure. The existing work was of families so not what I want for the workshops which were used for activities such as carpentry. I still need more information and to research but I know I need groups of workers so for now my drawings were to be based on groups of skilled laborers. I know about the carpentry as my friends father remembers working there. So far he is my best source and I need to get back to him. from the council webpage I have found that the main employment in ciempozuelos is in agriculture and the psychiatric hospitals.

The existing groups I took with me were very difficult to hang. There were no nails or any other fittings left around the windows. I managed with masking tape for a short while whilst I quickly took these photos:

window angle 2       boy

Close ups of the transparent plastic

family window   family w and w

We can see the other workshops through the transparency and it is possible to pick out and make individuals opaque.


I then began to draw groups of workers directly onto the walls. I did this with charcoal as I had previously experimented with this and it worked well however with these walls the charcoal broke and quickly feel apart making it really difficult to develop many figures. I quickly ran out of charcoal. I therefore need to rethink how I work onto the walls. I am thinking I need to go back with paint, markers and possibly compressed charcoal. I quite like the idea that the charcoal is so impermanent but looking at the weather forecast this week it will rain: maybe I need to paint and the paint needs to be waterproof at least long enough to allow me to develop the work. I am also unhappy with the scale of the figures I am making. I feel that they need to be bigger and at least life size. For some reason I am drawing the people slightly smaller than life size and I am not sure why.

IMG_0071             IMG_0066

I also discovered another space within the workshops. This is also upstairs in another building. In fact it is the building you can see through the window in the first images. However, this space has a roof and metal beams which would allow me to hang layers of figures. I cannot reach the beams without a ladder but it would be possible to bring one. That would also allow me to develop work in the studio as well as I cannot visit this town so often as it is about 35 kms from Madrid.

con techo

I also had another telephone conversation with another person I know from this town this week and he will help me to find places in which I could exhibit albeit for very short periods of time. I am really pleased about this even though he seems to think it would be impossible to exhibit in the psychiatric hospital. He did at least suggest the garden of the health center which backs onto the old military hospital. That could be interesting. For me it is also important that I go and look and that I make these new contacts. I need to build my confidence in talking too so this is a great opportunity.

La Corrala

For some time now I have been interested in exhibiting in this space and I put this in my PPP. I had always envisioned this being a curatorial possibility and using the gallery space in the basement. I was thinking of putting together a proposal and inviting other artists to participate.

However, as I have been having difficulties in finding a site for my exploratory project I started to think about something temporary in the patio.


The building is emblematic of 19th century housing in the centre of Madrid. This is a typical construction and by the end of the 20th century this building was poorly maintained and going to be demolished. It was saved by the University (Universidad Autonoma de Madrid) and made into a museum of popular traditions. They also exhibit the work of their MA students in the first floor galleries.


These buildings were made for people moving to Madrid from rural areas. Many came to work in the nearby Tabaco factory or the slaughterhouse. Both of these buildings are now used at least partially as galleries and venues.


This made me think of the possibility of using sheets and garments to paint on as the typical corrala image usually includes washing. These could be installed outside from the wooden walkways as they always were.


This image is an old photograph from nearby street Meson de Paredes. Some corals are still used for housing.

Ciempozuelos – looking for a site

I have a friend who is from Ciempozuelos which is a town 35 kms from Madrid known having for a number of psychiatric hospitals. Her father told me that there is an abandoned military hospital very close to their house so we go to investigate. On the way we pass some abandoned workshops on the edge of town with diaphanous spaces that I believe could serve as a Plan B.

big space    spacesbig s


there are also the remains of nets – I need to investigate what they were used for but they are a really great texture.

nets     nets 2


The workshops had been used for a variety of trades but we are not sure what these wires were for.

installation      DSC_0075


These were on a small section of the ceiling in a ground floor space.

We also passed by the slaughter house (Matadero). Which has been disused for decades.

Finally we arrive at the military psychiatric hospital a beautiful building which is now cordoned off.

loony     sad


We understood that access was restricted and the only way in was via the health centre next door. luckily my friend’s family know all the local people and when we pop in to the Town Hall and are told the council’s culture representative is in her afternoon job at the florists. Unfortunately the police have cordoned off the hospital as unsafe so we cannot go in. She also informs us that the slaughter house has been made into a storage space for council equipment and that it is now just diaphanous space with all the installations knocked down. She will let us know if we can get in to see either of these places but it doesn’t look very optimistic.


Meanwhile they tell us about the possibility of using caves. The caves used to be used as housing and some still are but the idea of abandoned caves for exhibition give me many ideas. However I have to go back to see them another day it was already quite late so I left my number and am trying to plan the return visit.



Mapping the Territory – Presentation

Notes on the Pecha Kucha presentation:

Slide 1

first nest

I had found an abandoned nest years ago and always returned to drawing it as a strong symbol of potential for nurturing and growth. I love the way birds make nests with whatever they can find a bit like artists.

Slide 2

southey097      southey098       southey099

I have an old sketchbook which has drawings of dead unborn baby birds and nests. Every year lots of little birds don’t make it. I found the vulnerability of the birds very moving. So I made the precarious nature of the nests more obvious by putting them on sticks.

Slide 3

nests on sticks

The nests on sticks became an etching from about 2005. This image has stayed with me but I felt I wanted to make it 3D Here the nests are floating I felt I wanted to stick them in the ground. That way they are vulnerable but rooted: a bit like my ideas.

Slide 4

nest papel

I began experimenting and decided to use materials that are easily available a bit like a bird, for one of the first experiment I used papier maché and twigs. Remembering Angela’s video and the dots I wanted to make the mind map using a repetitive making process.

Slide 5

nest yeso

I also experimented with plaster and other materials I had lying around, here twigs but also nails, screws or string. This was way quicker and easier but less ecological or reflective. Maybe it was too quick and taking time is good.

Slide 6

mapping 2 2

After several drafts I started making the nests according to this plan. There are three main sections originally called:History Painting, Drawing and Painting and materials I wanted these big themes to be bigger nests but here is no center or order of reading it.

Slide 7


In the studio I started setting out the first section, materials. With this one I tried to symbolise the ideas. I added some things I had lying around the studio: a spring and large papiermaché egg for 3D. For materials I added a variety of eggs; ecology shreaded documents; a type of handle to portability and left the economy one as really simple. Sensuality shows finger marks as part of the texture along with plastic tubing. However I needed the earth to make it.

Slide 8


I chose to make the full map outside, especially as I had added sticks to many of the nests they needed to go in the ground. This meant a trip to the school where I work as there is a garden.

This is the materials section again. When I put together the whole map outside I added a temporary ‘nest’ to portability which also attaches to mail art and Eugenio Dittborn.

Slide 9


The 3D nest became really important to the map and the string added to the form. I used the 3D nest to connect materials to the drawing and painting section. The ‘tension ‘ nest became a key concept to connect this to drawing and painting. This is really interesting as several of these issues keep cropping up and so I gave them a place in the map even if I don’t really use them in my work at the moment I keep coming back to them.

Slide 10


This shows how the materials and drawing and painting sections are connected through the tension (and textiles) and also how the portability nest is crucial in connecting to temporary nest and also the mail art nest which is flying through the air on a bent stick. These are all issues I have been considering a lot recently. They have come out of reading ‘Art and Today’ and from feeling overwhelmed by the weight of work I have carried around with me. (this section now feels incomplete).

Slide 11


This slide focuses on the drawing and painting section. This is probably the least developed and I could have pushed it further. In addition to the textiles nest we can see negative space, ‘The Object of Painting’ (Foucault) which I read recently. I also added three nests for artists who I feel help me with painting and drawing: Marlene Dumas, Edvard Munch and Alice Neel, although there are obviously many many more these are very important recurring influences.

Slide 12

DSC_0068These are the artists who work in the area of the tension somewhere between what is painting and what is not. Initially these were Angela de la Cruz. Lucio Fontana and Frank Stella. But I then changed them to Eva Hesse, Anselm Keifer and Rose Garrard. They are constantly changing but represent the artists who push this boundary in a way that I relate to.

Slide 13


Histories was initially called history painting as that is where I started with all this. However, I decided the common factor as closer to history and history painting became one aspect of this. After reading Histories of Art I felt the plural might be important too. This view shows histories connecting to histories of art and all the authority which goes with it (both on high elevated sticks). On the other side we look at narratives which make up the history. There are narratives, my narrative and the audience (and implicitly their narratives). from the audience we also have the excluded and they are nestled in between history of art and authority.

slide 14


Narratives an area which is really compelling. I found myself interlinking all the areas and maybe I could have gone even further with this. (my own, the audience, the excluded etc)

slide 15


Excluded: this can include both artists excluded from the histories and therefore left between history and art and authority but underneath and less connected. They are also excluded from the narratives and this may be more important to the development of my own work. They could also be those who feel excluded from being part of an audience for art. They are represented with chains.

Slide 16


Empty spaces: the other arm of history is empty spaces: this include the writtings of Gaston Bachelard – the poetry of domestic spaces, abandoned buildings which is where I want to work at the moment  and a special Luc Tymans nest. After completing and dismantling the nest I regretted not including Alselm Keifer.

Slide 17


Space and connections. Making the map allowed me to see the ideas I was exploring in a new way. I was particularly pleased with introducing the 3rd dimension. The height element allowed me to look at the map from many different perspectives. Linking the nests using string was a real learning experience. I began to change everything. I could have continued with this a lot longer adding a wider variety of connections and varying the string by weight or color.

Slide 18


For example this little nest became attached to the portability aspect of the work. In the final map it was attached to mail art and that is a logical place for it to be. It was initially called folding and I thought a lot about this after seeing Eugenio Dittborn’s work. It could however change the name and the way works could be packaged in order to send. In the end I liked the way the nests were not directly named it allowed me to develop the ideas they represented. Maybe words don’t help me to describe this idea.

slide 19

DSC_0042    DSC_0043


Two views of the ‘final’ map. I did not want to stop there but we ran out of time. I am now surrounded by the nests and have a bunch at home and at work. I am keeping them out of the studio for now. I would have liked to have added more links different strings etc……

Slide 20

View from History


final explanation of the last version for the Pecha Kucha I redrew the final version adding words to explain how the meanings changed. It still feels very provisional. I will develop in the studio so that I can use it.