Photoshop and images from Ciempozuelos

I finally found a source of scanned analogue photos from Ciempozuelos. There are a huge variety and this was just a begining of seeing what I can do with Photoshop. I now need to add women, animals and try overlaying in the proportions of my fabrics. I also wish to add more colour.

580587_157292087787139_1167325239_n      935808_157292247787123_1954401727_n      ciempo 3     


ciepo x3 1

Ciempozuelos 15th April

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This was my most disastrous visit to Ciempozuelos to date. I had a list of equipment to take after a day teaching and I remembered most of it. However, the ladder from work was crucially too short. It was very heavy but I couldn’t reach the metal beams to hang the fabric. This was my main objective to show for next weeks crit so I was disappointed. I then decided (as I felt I had to do something to add colour to the figures. I did not have either much water or a decent sized brush. This had not been my priority but I felt frustrated have driven out there so I tried. Painting on the walls is really unpredictable. I cannot control the paint well. The brush was way too small to fill in areas. The whole experience became really frustrating.





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I decided to try sticking the stencil from the making day to the wall and see how this worked. I quite like the destroyed publicity look but not for this project it doesn’t add to my ideas for the site. the way it pulled off layers on my wall back home was far more successful.

I also realised quite how much water I need to take to work on site. I completely ran out.

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In some ways the animals I had stuck on Monday were the most successful thing. They were so easy to make compared to the rest of the project. in a way much less of a challenge. Ink on cardboard and then playing with the white of the wall (much whiter than the wall) was fun and very easy. I remember Stewart Geddes in his lecture, that he paints over the part of the painting which is working most. These animals probably deserve the same fate. They have a cuteness a sentimentality which I was trying to avoid. However it is harder to paint over an animal than a person for some reason.

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These are the animals with the groups of people. With the new images I will be able to integrate animals into the groups more, but I do like the cardboard. I don’t think this is merely because it is easier to bring the cardboard than face the walls and how difficult it is to paint in them. There does need to be a connection though – maybe more cardboard brought in to the images of people?

19th April on site

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Things finally started to go a bit better at the site. I went really early on Sunday morning leaving home just as it was getting light. I had just the right equipment. A ladder which was long enough to comfortably sew the fabric (sheets) on to the metal beams. I also felt pleased as now many of the inhabitants of the fabric are based on photos from Ciempozuelos: both men and women. Interestingly these groups are pretty segregated in the sphere of work. I realised that I had used more colour on the women also a smaller scale (unintentional gender bias). I had deliberately started to change the scale but I seem to have got bigger with men and smaller with the women.


This was my discovery yesterday (Saturday 18th) the thinner fabric (also calico but really lightweight) and worked on this until late yesterday evening in order to see how it works. Unfortunately it is maybe too transparent. One cna barely see anything. I wonder what it would be like were all the images this faint? With the others there it just appears to disappear but if they were all like this? I was also surprised that the other fabrics do not appear so heavy in the space, the wind also gives them the sheet like feeling. The heavier calico seems quite light and somewhat transparent.

DSC_1172        DSC_1173exp proj          DSC_1183   On leaving the site I did wonder how it would look when I return. I spent some time taking photographs. In addition to these digital ones I decided to take some film as well although I used black and white so the colour will be lost. I need to investigate documenting the project as this will be crucial – I start to wonder who will see it – who is the real audience. I realise that this is not the point of the exploratory project but I am fascinated by the unknown visitors.

investigation into an abandoned site – new images

As I live in a country with many abandoned villages, housing and workplaces. I realize that I prefer my work in these types of sites because I had an exhibition in a disused cigarette factory and it worked so well there. I am wondering why that is. It was noticed by a variety of visitors, who are not artists such as an old friend who is a psychologist. I will ask him why he thinks that is. My feeling is that my work evokes the past and that in some way combines with the idea of the empty site and it’s story.

Whilst investigating the site in Ciempozuelos and I have just found, with the help of my friend, some photos that are actually from there. There is a whole group of scanned images on a facebook page called Ciempozuelos FOTOS. This turned out to be so easy after asking various people. Here are a range of people to use in my work.

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The last one is particularly interesting as they have animals and I know for certain there were pigs and chickens in the building.

I want to suggest the presence of these people – I want try to make them faint as if they are almost not there I may investigate with photoshop tomorrow before I return to the site. I am trying to work both directly onto the walls and onto cloths I can hang from the metal beams. I will leave all this there. Perhaps I shall bring stuff back too.


Here I started playing with Photoshop to visualise the pale layering of these images.



Ephrem Soloman


The Two Gamblers, 2013, woodcut and mixed media, 62 x 62 cm

In addition to the work of Armand Boua in the Saatchi Gallery last week, I was very pleased to encounter the work of Ethopian artist Ephrem Soloman. The works were the equivalent of the inked up wood then collaged. However they were painted and there was not suggestion that the carving was made as part of a printing process. The figures, for these examples I have chosen double portraits, are dejected and their poses are dejected. According to the Saatchi these can be seen as indirect comments on the Ethiopian political system and society. 

Ephrem solomon_untitledlife4
Untitled Life 4, 2013, woodcut and mixed media 90×95 cm
The layering and use of removing rather as well as adding newspaper texts and paint really strikes a chord with me. I have always removed and erased from the surface but I am now becoming more interested in removing parts of the support.

Making Day 11th April 2015

After working on the site in Ciempozuelos I was looking forward to the ‘comfort’ of working in the studio and having the freedom to change media and choose what to use spontaneously. My aim was to work directly on to the wall in the passageway as it is already quite uneven but also painted white and gave me 3.20 x 1m – I do not have a lot of free white wall space in the flat. The only slight issue is the lack of natural light. I prepared the wall yesterday evening by glueing kraft paper onto it. I did this to make sure it would be dry when I started this morning. So starting out with the diluted acrylic paint I had been using in the workshops because I want the figures to be faint. I moved on to white paint and cutting out the faces into the wall. I was not happy with the cutter lines. I prefer the ripped paper and less awkward lines it produces. The cutting into the paper worked best where it pulled off some of the layer of white and we start to get previous patterns from wall paper (or possibly the print made by the wallpaper into the plaster). This was the type of layering I wanted: both adding and taking away. The idea of the people being there, not very clearly and that they had become part of the wall and barely noticeable.

beginning wall      detail face

initial painting on the kraft paper.                                      closeup of the cut out face with the white paint coming off the wall.

early stage      step 2

I continued painting outlines of the figures under the bottom of the kraft paper on the wall. I wanted to try adding colour, in some places this was really diluted whereas in others it was thick – I experimented with how I applied the paint: brushes, fingers etc.                               wall      wall stencil

When the figures seemed to darkly defined I added a white wash. I then realised I could peel the paper off the wall like a huge stencil that I considered putting up in the site.

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However, what I really liked was the way in which the wall was left with bits of paper and in other areas the paper had ripped the paint of the wall but still leaving a suggestion of where the figures had been. Running out of time for the crit I added some lines, tentatively drawing back in the figures.


In addition to the workers there were also pigs and chickens in the workshops in Ciempozuelos so whilst I was waiting for the wall to dry on several occasions I decided to draw the animals on pieces of cardboard I had found.

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I didn’t get time to do very much with them but I wanted to try putting them in.

Questions About the Exploratory Project

After speaking to Stewart Geddes during the holidays I now want to frame some questions about the project in order to help me focus the final phase and keep in exploratory. Stewart’s feedback led me to think about making the work more ephemeral and fugitive. I also need to work on documentation if my work is to decay and be completely site specific.

If the ‘worker’ is an outmoded term how can I describe the protagonists of these narratives?

They are historical figures from the recent past. I had previously called them the forgotten (los olvidados). I want them to be seen as people who worked in the space. They are now either retired, working in another new industry, dead or unemployed.

How important is the human figure to me? Are there other motifs I could use?

I initially thought of the nests but I am not convinced they are well connected to this project. I had previously thought of the tools used in the workshop. However I am still keeping the figures I feel they are necessary.

carpinteiros  The tools could be meaningful or even the furniture. I am thinking about carpenters and blacksmiths.

I have been aiming at figures slightly bigger than real life which has been a challenge. How will changing the scale affect the work?

I wanted them to be bigger than real life as in history paintings. Slightly smaller than life size I felt did not work well. Much smaller figures I could try but I don’t think they would work well. They are not the same as small birds seen unexpectedly in the nomansland in Palestine. The only way I think it could work would be maybe individual figures. However I really wanted to paint the community.Stewart’s idea about making them less obviously seen is good but I think I will try to make them paler or layered.

What materials can I use and leave on this specific site?

There are tyres (tempting to make nests) and also nets which look like fishing nets. There is a lot of building waste – broken bricks, tiles, timber etc. I would like to use materials that are recycled as much as possible and paint and glue. I could experiment with painting using building materials. This I need to investigate.

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which verbs could help describe how I would like to make this work?

I would like to use: sticking, dripping, drawing, scraping, removing, covering, filling in, layering, breaking, uniting and joining so far. I want to use a variety of materials, some of which are found and others I bring, possibly started in the studio.

How can I document the work?

I need to use photography but it also occurred to me that the one element of photography I like is the darkroom although I rarely use it. So I could try analogue as well as digital photography (which I need to work on). I also had the idea of making some kind of prints with the work, physically. The last idea which I had today was to collect elements of the work as if I were an archeologist and display them as fragments of a past. maybe that could be a little pompous. I don’t want to give that ‘authority’ rather question it. The idea of taking some souvenirs from the site does strike a chord.


I stumbled across this artist unexpectedly in the Saatchi Gallery’s exhibition of ‘new art from Africa and Latin America’ called PANGAEA II, whilst I was in London at easter. These works gripped me immediately when I entered the gallery but I was especially drawn in by the process of making them. I have felt drawn to cardboard already this year but now even more so. I love the way Boua works into the surface of the work and mixes media. He seems on the verge of destroying the support althogether – the pieces are a bit like ancient fragments rather than very recent work. His figures, like mine, are suggested and I prefer the ones where there are no features. I must confess I was expecting to find more interest in the Latin American artists as I maybe know more about the culture and history but the African artists were unexpectedly more directly helpful to me. I do not have very much understanding of the history or contemporary conflict in Africa and need to look at this context for the work.



Tar and acrylic on cardboard

82 x 95 cm

These and others are children – disenfranchised and anonymous. According the the website he creates formless figures and deals with the inhumanity he observes. Especially with the forgotten children it is suggested this is a result of his experience in Abidjan and the violent and difficult local situation. He works with found materials acrylic paint and tar. I would say I feel there are very definite forms here but with no details. One feels the presence and the anonymity of it. I am thinking of new ways to add wheat pasting to the abandoned sites and as much as possible to keep what is there. In a way like a post industrial Andy Goldsworthy project where the materials are from the site and rearranged: the paint being the only addition.


Tar and acrylic on cardboard

95 x 85 cm