Invasion: Michael Zwingmann at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Michael Zwingmann, Invasion


I stole a trip to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park to catch the huge David Nash show, and this work by Michael Zwingmann had a major impact on my day.

Made from cast asphalt, these monumental structures occupy a space which would have been the football pitch of the old school housed in the buildings now used by the sculpture park. The title brings to mind the frantic pitch invasions we have seen on the TV, but your eyes are jolted back into the stillness here. There is no crowd, and no trees, which is a contrast to much of the rest of the grounds. The material is incongruous to the setting. Manufacturing and construction are juxtaposed with nature. The scale of the forms echoes that of straw bales, yet nothing will be fed or insulated with this.

And then the more general features of the space make themselves known, as you listen beyond the quiet and the wind and birdsong, and you hear the background noise of the M1 motorway. So constant in our lives we barely notice it, and so invasive of this quiet green space. This work is dropped before us, an assault on our eyes and noses (you can still smell the tar) in accompaniment to the road noise.

The stillness with which they sit there is cold comfort against the frantic rushing of the cars.


David Nash at the Yorkshire sculpture park


Feb 2011

Standing broad and tall and managing to look large even in a huge gallery space is david Nash’s Occulus. At approx. 2m square, the form is made of one piece of wood, the result of four eucalyptus trees growing and fusing together to become one. The sides are uneven in places, though none protrudes outside the cube form which it has been cut into. Excess wood was sheared off by the artist using a specially constructed double handled chainsaw, and the offcuts stand around the room, sentient, loyal, yet sloughed off the main.

The cut sections of the form still bear the marks of the cutting, and this surface contrasts with the smooth curves of the untouched trunk.

The form dwarfs you. Adults come up less than halfway, and children become smaller just as it becomes larger next to them.

The faint smell of cut wood and charcoal permeates the galleries. Visitors flow in and out of the spaces, and children play around the sculptures. It’s as if the presence of so much blatant nature condones the sense of celebration.

The artist himself wrote that although he believed that he was working in wood, what he actually works in are the four elements, water, air, water and fire. All elements associated with trees and wood.

So it is that all these hunks, hulks and husks of wood become optimistic, as the growth and life of these trees is acknowledged, their wood appreciated in it’s current forms, and the fuel some of them might otherwise have become, had the artist not quenched the flames with his hose.

The neighbouring galleries are host to sliced, split and scorched pieces, all large works in proportion in this setting, but the occulus sits in its own space, regal and quiet. I returned to it twice during the day, and the last time i went there was a large family group visiting with me. I smiled as i remembered the time before when I’d had the space alone with the work, feeling pleased about that. Then, as i was thinking about leaving, a small child ran into the centre, under one of the legs formed by the fork of the tree as it grew, now supporting one corner of the form which stands inverted. As she emerged she declared she could see through it, so i peeked in to look too. Sure enough, i could look through, and this was no accident, as it was a square cut hole, the humble gift of the artist who wanted the Occulus and us, to have light.

‘the skull’ by saâdane afif

I really like the delayed ‘aha’ moment this provokes. manipulating the objects and the location adds an overbearing sense of implicit involvement in the work. modernist 21st century style.
‘the mori art museum in tokyo japan presents ‘french window: looking at contemporary art through the marcel duchamp prize’
together with the association for the international diffusion of french art and japanese publication, the asahi shimbun.
on now until july 3, 2011, the exhibition represents a decade of contemporary french art through the perspective of the private
collectors who form ADIAF. 

featuring the work of duchamp himself along with 28 contemporary artists who have won or been finalists for the prize,
the exhibition marks 10 years for what has become one of france’s most prestigious art awards, the marcel duchamp prize.
held in honor of the 20th century french artist, the award supports and promotes artists who lead the french contemporary scene.’

Julian Wild

Julian Wild uses materials and their properties to explore the furthest reaches of his synergy with them, resulting in tubes becoming lines which form a visual solid, glass becomes a flawless frozen moment of liquidity, and ceramics take on softly folded and crumpled forms.’

the workmanship and the considered approach to it’s transparency and the momentum of his sculpture and commission work are really interesting to me- and which I aspire to.

Wish I’d been at the private view of the Occidental show at Brighton Uni last year, which featured his peice Doodleform

Since writing this blog I have been looking at the work of Richard Deacon, and I am pondering the obvious connection, and is Wild inspired by or derivative of Deacon’s early work?

Deacon appears to be considering ways of representing the form and its’ construction, whereas Wild seems almost to be challenging our understanding of how the material can be manipulated. His workmanship is integral to his explorations, and Deacon’s workmanship, the process of production, is more integrated into the final expression.



Martin Creed

Martin Creed’s show at Hauser & Wirth in London features a large revolving neon sign. It stands 6 foot 8 inches off the ground and revolves at varying speeds. The way he talks about his work is really illuminating- thought not in the sense of critical analysis, rather in the poetic sense: Martin Creed himself seems to refuse to be drawn beyond a certain point when discussing his concepts and intentions. Offering practical explanations such as ‘I wasn’t really sure what speed it should go at’, and that he realised that in making the work turn implied the mother slightly out of control. It’s as if he is experiencing his work with us, with the same discovery and delight, reading alongside, as maker and viewer.

Confessing that he ‘wouldn’t know where to start’ to make a work of art, approaching things from a making point of view, it is his music which comes across as the most knowing, the most crafted of his works. His songs are succinct and precise in their lyrics, often bringing our attention to the tiniest parts of life which might otherwise be overlooked.

Songs such as ‘ABC’ and ‘Blow and Suck’ convey a joy at playing the most rudimentary notes, and an integrity of performance without irony.

Vik Muniz

Vik Muniz

Just watched a really interesting video on TED talks featuring artist Vik Muniz. In it he talks about his path in life to where he is today. I like his view on the arc of things leading to this point. From starting out as a maker of artifacts, he moved on to the specificity of his works, leading to images of sugar-plantation children rendered in sugar,

and drawings of clouds made out of clouds (see first image above).

Again questioning how he, and we, see the world, he began to play with scale and presentation, leading him to do his earthworks series, which involved photographing images carved into the earth, some of which were person-sized, some of which were monumental, visible only from the air:

His play on scale and perception is really interesting to me- something technically really well executed, and looking at how work is presented to us, and how accessible it is.


Work In Progress 13/11/2010 10 till 4

An exhibition by the Fine Art FdA students, with examples of our work to date on our second year. Grab yourself a mug of tea from the market cafe and come on over for a visit and a chat. It’s open air- so wear a mac!

@ compARTment, open market, London Road, Brighton

– includes some of my new work

2nd Empire State Building , Lizzie Hughes, (2001)

Listening to Lizzie Hughes’ work 2nd Empire State Building, a sound piece consisting of a series of brief phone calls in which the caller asks politely which floor the person on the other end of the line is working on, I was at first unaware of the title and date of the work.

It took me until the 11th floor to work out that the calls were in sequence, and after that it became vividly engaging, as I waited for each floor, wondering how far up the building we could go. The answer would come, similar but always varied answers, all the way up to 80.

The higher we go, the more it narrows the possibilities for which building we could be listening to. The caller is British and states that she is in London, the people answering all have American accents and reveal various street names which imply the building is in New York.

In some respects the date and title of the piece become irrelevant. Whenever this was made, the mere phrase ‘New York Skyscraper’ today conjures up images of the destruction of the twin towers, ‘911’. The stark human component of a skyscraper, the human beings in the concrete and glass, the lives lived out and cut short in the attacks are brought to life, and to death.

But while listening to the work, they all live, and become real people on the end of the line. Like a vine growing up from underground all the way from us to them, the lifeline reaches impossibly high, higher than any living thing can reach up unaided above ground level. It is a marvel and a tragedy, a celebration, affirmation and memorium.

The Empire State Building stands 450m tall and consists of 102 floors, the first 80 of which are offices.

The world trade center buildings stood 530m tall and consisted of 110 floors.


We told him it was an intervention. He told us to go and intervene with outside.

Ai Wei Wei’s 100,000,000 sunflower seeds at Tate Modern, made as a comment on trade, production, society, cultural history and workers’ rights, are now closed to those of us who want to walk on them. Two enlightened individuals took action and interacted with them in the spirit of their creation. Then were ejected from the museum. Management argued that ‘now workers will have to don masks and spend time raking them again’. Funny they didn’t think of that before they agreed to house the work. As for the workers who produced them- I wonder if they were all issued with masks too? Not that it matters now, as I hear the factory is not only closed but will be pulled down. This intervention in the film is in celebration of the rights citizens and workers do still possess in the UK. Remember to cherish them.

I’m amazed there aren’t more examples out there of people doing this. Notice that no-one joined us out on the seeds.

Mercedes Nunez Ferrari

Mercedes Nunez Ferrari Mercedes is an artist who works mainly with textiles and stitching, drawing on her life experiences as a woman for inspiration. Previous works include ‘The Mother’, as shown above, which draws us into a dialogue of the role of a mother, featuring an ambivalent suggestion of physical demands.
The work which will be discussed here featured a collection of 3 pieces of work which address the similar theme of the mother. They were presented in a group, as roughly illustrated below.
The work consisted of a graphite representation of a uterous surrounding a pink plastic peg, a pair of hand-sewn fabric representations of breasts suspended on the wall, and a large graphite title declaring ‘Like a 24hrs shop ready to serve’
Whilst the works were recognisably referring to a common theme, I will discuss them separately, as I feel they were strong enough to stand alone, or in a group, rather than collectively as one piece.
The Uterous. Containing a pink peg in contrast to the drawing surrounding it, this suggested domestic chores, which are chores after all- and the choice of colour, associated with the femine, was supported by the female reproductive organs. A peg is an object with which to hold something up, but it can also pinch. This seemed really fitting, echoing the nurturing, or ‘holding in’ of the foetus, and also the physical pain of childbirth. The inclusion of an actual peg brought it into the present, rather than presenting it as a nostalgic image, suggesting an ongoing use.
The Breasts. Visibly hand sewn from calico and pink fabric