A Certain Kind of Light



I visited A Certain Kind of Light exhibition at the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne. Subtitled, Light in Art over Six Decades, it will come as no surprise that the subject matter was light!

Although a small collection of work, it was also a fascinating one. I wish to look at some of my favourite pieces from the exhibition and two that I struggled with.

This blog is intended to link with my last one regarding Richard Sweeney. It may be found here:


No catalogue was available for this collection, but I was permitted to photograph the work (I used my phone’s camera).

The next section of this blog looks at some of the work, whilst the subsequent considers my responses to this and Richard Sweeney’s work.


towner fig 1 words

towner fig 1
Fig. 1. Reflections on Anish Kapoor

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Difficult Background – Grayson Perry

Fig. 1. Perry, Grayson. “Difficult Background” (2001) – two views

Fig. 2. My sketches – Top left sketch of a girl, top right sketch of a boy, below are some observations about the pot


The Brighton Museum and Gallery has a Grayson Perry pot, Difficult Background (2001), on permanent display.

I wish to discuss it for two reasons. Firstly, I like Grayson Perry’s work in general and this pot in particular. Secondly, I was struck with how the pot was described.

The pot is in its own cabinet and sits in a corner. It is, however, on a revolving plate which allows all aspects of the pot to be seen. On both of my recent visits to look at it, however, the revolving plate wasn’t working. This had the effect of hiding about one fifth of it.

The cabinet carries a description of the pot. It says:

“Difficult Background, 2001, appears to refer nostalgically to childhood, with figures of children playing, dressed in 1950s-style clothes. However, a closer look reveals scrawled images of terror and war: burning buildings, blasted trees, naked figures running screaming from others carrying rifles. A girl presents an apple to a boy over a fallen signpost labelled ‘lost innocence’. Perry thus makes a powerful statement about the atrocities of conflict.”

I would agree with all of that but I was surprised that the description did not pick up on another aspect of the work. I will, therefore, discuss the piece in a little more detail and then return to the above description and consider other interpretations.

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Jeremy Deller’s Battle of Orgreave (Assignment 1)

Assignment 1

This assignment is a submitted piece of work so is saved as a PDF.

It is in three parts:

  • Part A – A brief reflection on my learning on this course so far.
  • Part B – An interpretation of Jeremy Deller’s Battle of Orgreave, looking specifically at time and place.
  • The final part is a self-evaluation.

I should say that I think that this work by Jeremy Deller is extremely interesting and it was a joy to write an assignment about it.

Please click on the link below if you are interested to read it.

Assignment 1 – Joe Haywood 516004

‘Place – The First of All Things’ (Project 3: Place in Art – Exercise 1)

Exploring Art

Read: ‘Place – The First of All Things’ by Tacita Dean and Jeremy Millar

List artists mentioned and look at least one piece by those whose work incorporates text.

1. Notes

Ian Hamilton Finlay

Finlay I H The World Has Been Empty Since the Romans - 1985

Fig. 1 Finlay, I. H. The World Has Been Empty Since the Romans (1985)

I find this piece quite baffling. This image was taken from the Tate’s website (see list of illustrations below). In the text that accompanied the image, it was explained that “Despite its ruin-like appearance, Finlay’s sculpture was in fact specially made in its present form.” The text goes onto discuss various aspects of the context of the work, in particular that this is the first part of a sentence which concludes, “But the memory of the Romans fills it. They go on prophesying liberty.”

This exercise has asked whether the pieces have any relevance to ‘place’ and how they reference it.

The piece is quoting a reference to the Romans but “The World” as understood by the Romans was not the planet, it was largely Europe, North Africa and those parts of western Asia abutting the Mediterranean Sea.

The sentence is attributed to Antoine de Saint-Just, a military and political leader during the French Revolution. In terms of place, there is something curious about a revolutionary leader of the 18th Century referencing the Roman concept of the world. Whatever his aims and ideals for the French revolution, the quote suggests an antiquated sense of what he felt the world was or could become, which is underscored by the old and damaged appearance of the stones.   


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Damien Hirst and ‘nature morte’ (Project 1: Arts and Ideas – Exercise 5)

Part 1

Find two examples of still life work which includes fish and in each case note the title, artist and date. Make a quick sketch of both pieces.

I decided to choose two pieces that were quite different. The first was a Picasso and the second by William Merritt Chase. It is no exaggeration to say that I have not tried to draw properly for decades. I tried to experiment a little in each sketch. In the first there are areas of colour and so I decided to use coloured pencils.

In the second,the artist’s emphasis was on realism so I used normal drawing pencils but instead tried using both hard and relatively soft ones.

Drawing 1 – Based on Picasso’s Still Life with Fish (1923)

P1 Ex 5 - picasso

Drawing 2 – Based on William Merritt Chase’s  Still Life with Fish (Date unknown)

P1 Ex 5 - w m chase
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Video Art – Sam Taylor-Johnson’s Still Life (Project 2: Time and time-based media – Exercise 2)

Interpreting video art

Watch: Sam Taylor-Wood’s Still Life (2001) http://samtaylorjohnson.com/moving-image/art/still-life-2001

Make notes on:


  • Initial response after 1st viewing
  • Media and form of the piece
  • Contextual info; influences, other work, etc
  • How does this comment on time


In 250 words describe your understanding of this piece. What do you think Taylor-Wood wants us to think about or experience from watching this?

1. Notes

Initial response after 1st viewing

The opening shot of fruit in a bowl is reminiscent of old still life paintings. The fruit has been selected and chosen with care. The colours are a mix of reds and pale yellows. The small bunch of grapes reminded me of Edwaert Collier’s “Still Life with a Volume of Wither’s ‘Emblemes’”.

The bowl is a gentle brown and its texture contrasts with the smoothness of the fresh fruit. The background behind the bowl is out of focus and provides no distraction from the fruit. The light shines from the left and so produces shadows which accentuate the shapes and forms of the different fruits. The fruit is resting on a pale wooden table with a blue ballpen to the right of the bowl. The pen’s colour and form jars with the fruit. Whist everything else maybe described as natural, the pen is plastic and cheap.

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Longplayer (Project 2: Time and time-based media – Case study)

Case study Interpreting Sound – Longplayer

  • What is your initial reaction to the idea of this piece?
  • What do you think about the sounds in this piece?
  • Why do you think Finer has chosen these particular sounds?

Roundhouse Performance 2009 – Look at how it is presented to the audience. Think about:

  • Quality of the sound
  • Choice of singing bowls
  • Positioning of the bowls
  • Positioning of the spectator
  • Length of the piece
  • How it is performed

Write a short interpretation of Longplayer

1. Initial reaction

I think the idea is an interesting one. The thought that a piece can sustain itself without repetition for 1,000 years feels original. The website likens it to a planetary system where 1,000 years might pass before the planets return to their original alignment. Finer is quoted as saying that the preoccupations that led to its conception were not of a musical nature, rather “…they concerned time, as it is experienced and as it is understood from the perspectives of philosophy, physics and cosmology.” From a cosmological perspective, however, 1,000 year is no time.

My main reactions are questions. Does a good idea necessarily translate into an interesting piece of art? In a piece such as this, is the art the thought and/or conception? If so, does the idea actually need to be executed? If I were to be honest, I think I have more questions than opinions about this piece.

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