Duke Mitchel – artist talk

Exploring the links between photography and painting 

This work by Mitchel was made from a record he found one day and repurposed into a painting. He likes the idea of recycling found objects, we see a lot of rubbish around the streets, and e would have the compulsion to go and pick that stuff up. Around the edge are clumps of paint which had fallen off of other paintings and are repurposed into a frame around the record. He would go out to find street litter to use as raw materials for more sculptural works.

Here I see links with my own works, these objects have been lost or abandoned in the same way as the spaces which I have been photographing and painting.

I would also like to explore the concept of bringing found materials into my work, in paintings where there re abandoned structures for example, I would paste actual found posters or images onto them like what may be on the walls themselves, or actual signs that may be in place there.

The textures of the paint around the edge are also similar to some of the experimenting I did with pint and other substances to create texture, through my work I also tend to keep scrapings of left over paint from my palette to perhaps use later, which I would incorporate into my paintings to create textures.

Mitchel also has a series of works which are somewhat the opposite of how I have been working. The photograph on the left was taken to mimic the painting on the right. He has a series of photograph taken in this way. In my work I have been going out and taking photos, with the intention to make them into paintings later on. These paintings can be constructed with parts from different images and edited how I want the same way that a photograph can be adjusted and staged in the moment and in post.


Catriona Leahy – Artist Talk

Catriona Leahy / Aesthetics of Disappearance

Drawing attention to a sense of loss and disappearance

“I examine time, duration & memory both in a personal and wider social context, giving these inherently ambiguous, intangible and subjective phenomena a material and spatial context. I am intrigued by the apparently enduring presence and stability of structures and form – social, physical, geographical and cultural – and the transitory and malleable nature of memory, a moment in time, where time as well as these constructs are perpetually moving and in flux. Redundant or vacant spaces often pose as protagonists in my work; their structure and form have a virtue of clarity, coherency and vividness but by their curious appearance and ambiguous setting, they remain notoriously evasive and ambivalent with the ever-present possibility of dissolution. As conduit spaces for my exploration into time and duration, they call to mind the brevity of our occupancy of space, and the dependency on our presence to ensure their abiding memory.”

Found photos of purpose built game areas, 3 sided structures to play hand ball in. she was interested in these photographs because they seem out of place, out of time, no longer used how they were made to be, rather they may now be used as places for storage or dumping grounds. These structures are gradually falling into disrepair. Mirrors the gradual decline in local populations and micro communities in small towns. These structures are left behind as emblems of a community that no longer had that community to activate it. Bult by funds, community spaces, people would come to play and as spectators.

Her work developed from this is shown as a projection, the video of the game area is show along with sound which she recreated. the camera is positioned where the spectator would be.

Spit bite etching miniatures, documenting different ball alleys.

These photo etchings are the same ball alleys, but these show the podium where the spectators would watch the game, where the camera was placed in the video work. These were built at a later date than the ball court, perhaps to encourage spectators and renew interest in the sport.

Photo etching of a factory on rusted steel (abobe).  Closed in the 1980, causing the loss of hundreds of jobs. It remained empty until very recently when it was dismantled due to the amount of asbestos used in it so people were reluctant to get involved in dismantling it

This print (below) of the same factory was printed using a laser printer, and then transferred using chemicals onto   Japanese paper, each small piece that make it up is about a5 in size. These pieces mirror the fragmented appearance of the structure itself. They are assembled onto the wall only by the tops of the paper, which causes the fragile paper to move with the audience, which results in a floaty, dynamic appearance.

These works of hers in particular are of interest to me due to their similar subject to some of the work I have been doing. These abandoned empty spaces which have lost their purpose. Although for Leahy she is more interested In the shift of society and cultures, where mine are more fantasy like,  looking at the  stillness of empty spaces as if society as a whole has vanished.


photographs – primary research

As part of developing my work I have gone out to take my own photos, as part of my research and development I have taken a variety of my own photos from around the area where I live. when I went out on this walk, I was specifically aiming for one building that I had seen before and knew I wanted to photograph, bit I found that as I was walking, I saw lots of other opportunities to take photos which inspired me. I later used many of these photos as reference for paintings.

George Shaw is also known for painting urban spaces, specifically the council estate which he grew up on. These paintings show no people, but usually show signs that there was someone there, graffiti, doors left open etc. Along with this there always seems to be nature creeping into these paintings, there are trees and other plants around the buildings, which is something that I found around me also, in the places I photographed and is something I used heavily in my paintings like these.

I have always found this kind of imagery interesting, abandoned buildings, objects decaying, nature taking over structures. These kinds of images create a quiet, eery atmosphere and makes you question what could have happened. For me, I also enjoy when the paint itself reflects the atmosphere, with the colours and textures. For example, this print by Catriona Leahy is done onto rusted metal, bringing the surface es in the image into the art itself. It is also quite dark, in a similar way to the paintings I have been doing of buildings.

When it is easier to travel more, I would like to be able to travel to more places specifically to photograph building and areas of abandonment, perhaps even areas of nature which have no people around so that I can try to capture the stillness of being alone in those spaces. I would also like to try looking for found objects outside, or in second hand sops to incorporate into my works.


Michael Raedecker

Michael Readecker is a Dutch artist working in the United Kingdom, he studied fashion in Amsterdam and later he art at Goldsmiths in London.

Readeckers work is much more stylised than another artist which I have looked at, George Shaw, and in this way connects more to the work which I have been making. His colour palette is much more limited, the work being made up of unrealistic, close tones which make them appear fantasy like.

Description of Ins and Outs (2000) from Saatchi Gallery, “ins and outs is a sublime dream home. Steely grey in the dead of night, manicured in the expansive landscape, trees in a straight line, boulders placed decoratively for maximum effect: it might be the retirement retreat of a Silicone Valley millionaire, the kind of person who would bother to have their trees pruned into perfect orbs, who’d insist that their sky be as delicate as a Japanese watercolour. Michael Raedecker’s paintings are always little seeds of gossip. Drawn to this house by the impossible intensity of the light – made up of countless tiny pink and yellow threads – the first instinct is that something suspicious is happening within.”

This painting is very dark, with lots of close tones mostly in fairly neutral blues with hints of greens. The light coming from the doorway particularly stands out, its much lighter than the rest if the painting and the yellow stands out against the blue surrounding it.

In my building paintings I created contrasts between the manmade structures and the plant life/ nature growing on and around it. While very different in subject matter, my skeleton paintings have a similar darkness to them, and close tones. They also use more unusual, unrealistic colours.

Although this piece is very different in subject to what I have been painting, the colours and atmosphere it creates are inspiring to me. The plant appears to be almost entirely made up of embroidery, the subtle shading below it and the yellow which surrounds some areas makes it appear as part of the background, situated in the space more so than just sitting on top of the paper. The contrast of the very light petals stands out against the dark background, giving it presence and making it appear three dimensional.

The paint in the background is dark and desaturated, it appears to be staining the canvas more so than covering it, which makes it look softer.

Contextual Painting

George Shaw

George Shaw paints empty, sometimes derelict suburban spaces. To me the emptiness in one image is somewhat unsettling, but not as much as when you see these works together. One painting with no human or animal like could be coincidence, but seeing multiple together makes the atmosphere feel much more ominous. Based on this I am considering presenting my work as a series which is meant to be seen together.

His paintings also have hints of someone having been there relatively recently, such as graffiti, litter, a pathway worn into the ground by frequent use or a garage door left open. There always seems to be some nature creeping into Shaw’s paintings, even those seeming to be focused on the various buildings, there are always bushes, trees showing from behind them or an area of grass, which is something that has been present in my paintings of man made structures, with plant life growing on or around them. nature always creeps back in.

Within Shaw’s paintings there is a very sophisticated use of light, even in the very dark paintings you can see the light in the background creating some very dramatic contrasts.

These two paintings feature much more nature, with the man made structures hiding more in the background or in subtle, especially the painting on the left. this painting shows pathways where people (or animals) have left pathways in the ground through frequent use, as well as wooden posts. The shapes marking the edge of the dark area, before the red sky are somewhat triangular in shape, indicating that they could be the silhouettes of the roofs of houses behind the trees.

Shaw’s paintings are much more defined and realistic that the style which I have been working in, where my pieces have been much more stylised and expresive.

Contextual Painting

Primary Research – Colours – Acrylic Paint

As part of developing my practice and improving my use of colour, I spent some time specifically practicing mixing dark colours with new, better quality, paints which would allow me to have more depth in my colours. For this I used Golden Artist Colours, specifically Quinacridone Magenta (PR122), Phthalo Blue (green shade, PB15:3) and Benzimidazolone Yellow Medium (PY154). I started with magenta, and gradually added more blue. From blue I then added yellow to make a variety of greens, and then from a dark green I cycled back through to magenta. my aim with this was to create examples of all the dark colours that I can mix and use in the place of black, using just primaries, and from the chart I can see what colours were used to get there.

This has allowed me to make my paintings dark, like Raedeckers and Shaw’s without everything looking washed out and dull.

These are some examples of the first paintings which I did to test these paints, on 3×4 inch canvas boards. With these paintings I was experimenting with mixing colours with these paints, looking at how they layer and blend and what I could do with them in comparison to other paints which I was using before.

Although these paintings were not initially a part of my project for this year, I found that they were more enjoyable to me to make that the manmade structures I had been painting before.

Something which I struggled with when using these paints was thinning them and also photographing them. For example, the ‘blue’ human skull painting on the top right actually leans much more green in real life, and I could not find a way to get my camera o pick it up as it was, and even with editing in post it does not like how it was intended. Due to these paints being much glossier than those I was using before, the methods I was using to thin my paints before did not work, it would cause the paint to simple bead up on the surface. This same glossiness also made them difficult to photograph, as there were many reflections on the surface. To get around this I would photograph them at an angle and use Photoshop to straighten them out in post editing.

Contextual Painting

abandoned building photographs

As a part of my primary research , I took photographs of empty spaces and abandoned places whivh i thought would work for the theme of my work around leicester.