Five things this Friday

1. More doodles

2. Influence

I rather liked this short blog post by Austin Kleon - The way we talk about influence is backwards.

Rather than Van Gogh influencing Basquiat (which is kind of impossible if you think about it, and implies passivity on the part of Basquiat), try instead thinking of Baquiat working on Van Gogh…

I particularly like how, in the quoted Michael Baxandall text, this new arrangement opens up the language we use.

3. Eight week blocks

As an experiment, I’ve started the year trying to work in eight week blocks. I got the idea from a couple of different places. Now half way through my first block and I’m thinking of changing tack. I expect I’ll write more on this at a later date.

4. Nakatomi Space

Image from Die Hard

Die Hard meets the essay Lethal Theory, “walking through walls” and “what it means to bend space to your own particular navigational needs”.

Read (approx 10 mins) or listen (approx 14 mins) to this text by Geoff Manaugh.

5. Personas

A couple of conversations about personas (for artists) got me thinking about the Tom Peters book The Brand You 50. (He’s no relation, or at least not that I know of!) I’ve got the book tucked away somewhere along with his book Re-imagine. Both are full of provocative nuggets. It could be time to dig them out for a browse.

Five things this Friday


There’s a review of A Slow Take over at Eye Contact site. It’s written by John Hurrell. I was introduced to John at the opening (thanks Maggie!) and noticed later in the evening he was having a close look at my work, which was great to see. And I find it’s interesting he mentions Billy Apple as I was thinking of one of his works just the other week.


Two images I liked on instagram this week. Click through to go to the original post.

Yup, that’s Blinky Palermo.


Choir! Choir! Choir! + David Byrne singing David Bowie’s Heroes. Discovered one morning this week – a slow start and then… well, what a way to start my day.




A short article looking at the Japanese perspective of space. The author looks at four types of space:

  • Relational space (wa)
  • Knowledge-mobilizing space (ba)
  • Location (tokoro)
  • Negative space (ma)

Instead of being about the built environment, the Japanese words for space center on the interactions and relationships among people.

In Japan, a building can’t be in Tokyo without Tokyo being in the building.


One of mine from 1989-90. Oil paint with Polyfilla on board

Little boxes

Geometric ink drawings on dotted paper

Detail from my sketchbook

I’ve got myself a dotted notebook again. While I have no problem drawing over lines on a page, the dots I find hard to ignore. Unlike a plain page, where anything goes, the dots encourage doodles of boxes, diagonals and straight lines.

From these drawings I’m beginning to explore similar structures in paint – just to see what may be possible (or not). As you know, paint on the end of a brush behaves quite differently from a 0.5mm ink pen on paper so there’s a translation of sorts to be negotiated. Scale, surface and colour all come into play too but for now, to keep things simple, I’m sticking to mixing only black and white on a small mdf panel.

Five things this Friday

1. Trying to write today’s post I find I can’t not mention Mark E. Smith, leader singer / head honcho of The Fall. As you may have read, he died yesterday at the age of 60. Others have described him and his influence far better than I ever could. I’m glad I got to see The Fall play at Bodega back in 2015. They are kind of special, by which I mean they’re quite something.

Mark E. Smith - The Fall at Bodega, Wellington, October 2015. Photo: Dan Robinson

2. My friend Nik wrote about my work Slipped Monochrome #2. As he said to me, it took his writing to an unexpected place. Find out where over here.

Slipped Monochrome #2, 2017 Te Tuhi

3. Just after writing my previous post about Scale, I came across this quote over at Daniel Levine’s website. A painter of monochromes since 1990 he says, amongst other things, ”I realized that a painting can never be large enough, but it can always be small enough. A small painting can easily fill a wall; seriousness is not inherent to scale.”

4. Austin Klein, writing about work/life balance succinctly sums up a poem by Kenneth Koch published in a 1998 issue of the New Yorker, “Work, family, or friends: pick two. You can have it all, just not all at once.”

5. These paintings by Ryan Crotty look rather nice. Whoever took the photos has done a great job. (And for you sports fans, no, not that Ryan Crotty).

Ryan Crotty, “I Like Me Better” (2017), acrylic, gloss gel, and modelling paste on canvas, 24 by 20 inches

Slipped Monochrome #2 in Three Acts

by Nikolas T. Brocklehurst


Prologue To begin is to establish an edge, a boundary, a periphery from which its other shall be measured.

Act 1 Surface tension: The tale of Surface and Void

Act 1, scene I Patrons enter gallery “What do you see?” “I see depth, I see an endless blue void, it’s kinda peaceful”, “what do you see?” “Hmmm, hm I can only see surface, solid, stable. oh no wait, I can see the other too.” “Oh yeah I see that too, hmm” “Hmm” “Yeah hmm”

Act 1, scene II Staring upon Slipped Monochrome #2, our vision quickly adjusts and readjusts only to adjust again. It is searching for something, anything to grasp onto before it falls flat upon the surface or falls forever into the void. No sooner has the surface been discovered than it dissolves and we slip below it. As the descent begins we are brought back to the surface, gasping for that most ethereal substance before we sink once more.

To evoke void is to suggest an engulfing emptiness, to consider surface is to acknowledge an impenetrable fullness. The irony of course is that they are both visibly invisible. Without referent to firmly grasp we are visually trapped in the absurdity of a Zenoian Paradox.

This flickering between the infinite and the finite, definite and indefinite, this multistable perception of cosmogony as void and self-evidence as surface allude to the actual object searched for. A moment that can only be observed after its instantiation in the acknowledgment a pre and post object, that is the unknowable ontological moment

Act 2 Masquerade: Place, space and form

Act 2, scene I “Hey, look at that!” “At what” “That”

Our patrons take step back

“And there” “hmm” “Hmm”

Act 2, scene II Embracing architecture as anti-stretcher, Slipped Monochrome #2 descends onto the floor and out of the gallery. Exposing the referential wall, it traces place to make form manifest. Forced to acknowledge its own dimensionality, its micron thin physicality it gaines a sculptural weight. Yet the work’s actual intrusion within the space of place, reveals an installational spatiality where we are invited into the work as the gallery is subsumed into the experience.

To see Slipped Monochrome #2s shedding of its painterly functionality as a critique of the modernism’s aspirations of transcendence and its place of worship, legitimises their intent. Instead it is precisely the gallery’s inability to hold SM2 within the confines of form and place that translates critique to expansion.

Brought to the for is not the play of the signified but their substitution, suddenly the wall exposed comes to stand for each and every wall, the white walls of the gallery, the timber walls of a house, the brick walls of garden, the tile floor of the gallery becomes every floor, the street, the earth. Thus Slipped Monochrome #2 does not universalise the subject but subjectises the universal and ubiquitous. Despite a guise of modernism, it negates the singularity of the enterprise and undertakes the postmodern turn.

Act 3, scene I Finding the marvelous: The zoetropic effect.

Our patrons continue their metaphorical journey. “Hmm, why is it like that” “What?” “Umm, you know, unsure of itself” “Oh! hmm, umm, i think it is very sure of itself” “Hmm” “Hmm”

Our patrons head toward the exit. “Hey, check that out, it…”

Act 3, scene II The simplicity of Slipped Monochrome #2 exposes the complexity of creation. Not of an ideal art but of the idea of art itself. The works literalness acts to disembody and lay bare an inability to define itself without referencing the multiplicity of others. Taking it beyond Duchampian considerations of the artist, dispelling illusion or exposing distraction it rather acknowledges the continual search for itself.

Through the act of memesis askew, the work places those definitional boundaries into instability. Oscillating between assumed opposites, void/surface, painting/sculpture, architecture/installation, modern/postmodern, referent/referentless, fact/fiction it alludes of an inbetweenness, those spaces, moments, definitions that have aspects of each other without being either.

This zoetropic effect is as much in life as it is in art. If the device is seized it ceases to be anything other than its constituent parts, yet if encouraged unveils the marvelous.

Epilogue To end is to define the scope of measurement. Yet it is the pause in between that most valued.