Friday, 19 December 2014

Its still glowing... Installing in Stoke-on-Trent

Liz West, 
In The Window: Assaulting the Asphalt
(No.22 Magical Magenta & Oklahoma Yellow) and (No.23 Jade & Magical Magenta)
300(H) x 280(W) x 100(D) cm,
Cellulose acetate, tracing paper and fluorescent bulbs

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Exhibition: Assaulting the Asphalt at Airspace Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent

Assaulting The Asphalt - LIZ WEST 
Dec 17th, 2014 - Jan 11th, 2015   

Assaulting the Asphalt explores Liz West’s research into the relationship colours have to each other and how they affect the spaces they inhabit.  

West's investigation into the relationship between colour and light is often realised through an engagement between materiality and a given site. Within physical and architectural space, West uses light as a material that radiates outside of its boundaries and containers. She playfully refracts light through using translucent, transparent or reflective materials, directing the flow of artificial light. Our understanding of colour can only be realised through the presence of light. By playing and adjusting colour, West brings out the intensity and composition of her spatial arrangements.  

These ephemeral interventions forge new spaces and environments, by flooding a physical site with a rich mixture of light. By limiting her use of materials, West simultaneously challenges herself to focus on arrangements rather than an array of colours. In a recent series of spatial light works based on research into colour theory and light fields she has transformed architectural spaces.  

The saturated light in this work casts sumptuously vivid colour reflections out of its container, through the window and reflects onto the asphalt below. The Winter darkness outside raises the strength of the illumination and colouration in the work.  

Luminous colours are “colours that escape their containers and bleed onto the street; they deliver what colour always promises but doesn’t always achieve: a release from the surfaces and materials that support it, a release that leads to the fleeting magic of the ‘fiery pool reflecting in the asphalt’.” 
– David Batchelor (The Luminous and the Grey, Reaktion Books, 2014)

Friday, 12 December 2014

Work published in USA journal Reunion: The Dallas Review

I am delighted to have recently had several of my works published in the University of Texas at Dallas annual arts journal, Reunion: The Dallas Review. My work was chosen for the front and back cover as well as an inside feature.

For over two decades, Reunion: The Dallas Review has been dedicated to finding and publishing exceptional examples of short fiction, drama, visual art, poetry, translation work, non-fiction, and interviews. Their mission is to cultivate the arts community in Dallas, Texas, and promote the work of talented writers and artists both locally and internationally.

The School of Arts & Humanities, the home of Creative Writing at the University of Texas at Dallas, is not your conventional university department; they are a forward-thinking, interdisciplinary unit that offers degrees that cross the normal boundaries between art and science, language and literature, technology and philosophy.

For more information and how to purchase the journal please visit:


Thursday, 11 December 2014

My work published in In The City catalogue

I have recently had my work published in a new book exploring perceptions of the city on a global scale. 'An Additive Mixture #2' was chosen to be printed in this zingy book which was published to coincide with an exhibition of the same name at Hanover Project, UCLAN, Preston.

Artists were invited to reflect current cultural, social and political subjects through engagements with the built environment in which they live and / or work. The exhibition and book is the result of an open call for submissions, and works have been received from artists working in Ireland, Sweden, UK, Portugal, Lithuania, Denmark, Italy, Sweden, USA, Austria, Israel, Romania, Germany, and Qatar. The book and exhibition were curated by Victoria Lucas.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Revisting and renewing old works

On one of my previous blog posts I spoke about how I have used materials from old work to make new work. This week I am still playing with the 6 LED Light Sheets sourced from my old work Repeated Everyday.

In the past couple of days I have been layering coloured acetate's on top of the light sheets to make new light drawings (images here). I have been excited about the results and think that the use of transparencies works well within my practice and within my research into luminosity.

Today I decided to use the notion of reusing elements within old works to use within new experiments. I pulled open my plan-chest draw to find 10's of works on paper that I had made last year as part of my Arts Council England Grants for the Arts Research and Development funding which I was awarded.

There were some works that I never showed as they didn't quite work. They didn't work because the colours were too flat or sordid or there wasn't enough white space around the image; basically the image I had created didn't jump off the page, like the successful ones did.

I felt this was a shame, but didn't bin them. I don't keep everything, but I kept these sheets. There was elements within them that I liked, but they weren't 100%. Now I know why...

They totally lacked luminous colour! 

I was attempting to use bright hues, but the colours didn't sing. 

One by one, I laid the works on paper onto my LED light sheets and photographed them. I felt a sense of excitement when a few of them started taking on a new lease of life. The light source offered the colours a voice: they were singing!

The colours were at last, vivid in their hue, saturate and glowing; they has become luminous. Of course not all pieces did this; especially the ones where I had applied colour on top of black or collage. The blackness blocked any saturation the colour could muster altogether.

In some of the more successful ones, shown below, the use of the black separates the colour, as a line in a drawing or a wall within a space. I believe that this is how these works should be shown. I feel they are finished. 

Such a simple change makes all the difference. Lifting them from out of my draws, out of their dullness, and into becoming possibilities. I see all my works on paper as possibilities: potential for how they could be taken into three dimensions and how they might one day occupy space.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Visual Research: Using my iPhone for Documentation

I have been continuing my experiments with coloured theatre gels and the LED light sheets I recovered from an old work earlier last week. I have been mainly just playing in my studio; arranging then rearranging the coloured acetate filters onto the LED light sheets, both as they come as by cutting them into my desired shapes. 

This playful approach very much reminds me of the Construction Project that I set myself earlier in the year; making, documenting and taking apart whatever work I made. I have been using my iphone as a way of documenting my stream of ideas very quickly. I do not want the photographs of the ideas to be polished, as the ideas themselves aren't yet; they are still developing.  

Visual research.

As I try and bring reading back into my practice as a method of learning, I have also tried researching my concerns through doing and making; I find a combination of both suits me well (an obvious thing to say and do, but I'm still learning). 

In the past, I have felt unable to be as playful, thinking that everything I made had to be polished and therefore a finished work. I was wrong. This method of practice has proved unhealthy as I found myself churning out commissions without allowing myself time to develop as an artist.

This set of images shows how I have used the coloured gel filters in three dimensions rather than laying them flat over the light sheets, laminating them or overlaying them on top of each other to create different levels of saturation within the colour scale. 

I have still managed to achieve the increasing saturation through the building of layers, but with these images, I have thought more about how I could create this within three dimensional space. These small acetate experiments are positioned on top of and in front of two of my LED light sheets to make the colour luminescent. 

I envisage these meager tests works to potentially exist within large spaces, maybe in front of opaque windows (natural light turning the colour transparencies luminous) or another light source. I can imagine them scaled up to mammoth proportions, as to impact on a space. Giving the viewer a chance to stand amongst the sculptures, becoming part of the coloured layers. Or allowing a viewer to gaze at the intertwining layers that create stronger colour saturation as the scrolls roll tighter. Another thought: Placing them on a LED light sheet shelf (keeping with the small scale) to allow people to come up, close and personal.

There is so much potential here. So much to play with...

When I was at The Glasgow School of Art, Ross Sinclair gave a lecture about the importance of documenting everything you did. He was right. Whatever I decide to do, at least I have snapped away and got them in my iphone photo library -  my digital sketchbook.

Monday, 3 November 2014

The benefits of dismantling old work for reuse...

I got back in the studio last week after a busy period including my Merz Barn residency and a number of exciting commissions.

I started the week by dismantling an old piece of work in order to retrieve some custom-made LED Light Sheets that had been fabricated for me over 3 years ago to fit inside a miniature chamber piece commissioned by Manchester's Blank Media Collective  for their Arts Council Funded 'Inside' exhibition.

As some of you already may know, I often use elements from my past works and build them into current pieces. An example of this can be seen with my sticklights that I had commissioned using my Arts Council England funding award last year. I have used them in several works since, included the work that they were initially made for;

Tempo, September 2013, In solo exhibition On Brown & Violet Grounds, Piccadilly Place Manchester
An Additive Mixture #1, October 2013, Bury Light Night
An Additive Mixture #2, November 2013, In group exhibition Synthesis, Victoria Warehouse Manchester
An Additive Mixture #3, March 2014, Solo exhibition, Exeter Phoenix
Beyond Space, August 2014, Commission for Kendal Calling Festival
I know it is cheeky to use and re-use materials, but when there is very little funding available for each project then needs must. With each/any dollop of funding I buy a new stock pile of exciting lighting equipment, this then see's me through a period of creative endeavors.

I'm digressing.

So, I now have a set of 6 LED Light Sheets, which are an incredibly well-made, even light source that I can use within my current practice. They are made up of an LED matrix that stretches across the whole sheet of polished acrylic. They are, in all effect; a small, very flat, spectacularly neat, light box. Even though I have had them in my life for over 3 years, they have served their initial purpose and been hidden away within my old Chamber work and therefore seem like a brand new toy now.

I began by layering sheets of cut theatre gels onto the light-box surface. I started my making multicoloured laminated collages, which then quickly transformed into single or dual coloured overlays. What is interesting about them for me, is how different shades and tones of a colour can be built up using these transparencies. 

These examples are using just two colours in each: yellow and amber, green and pale blue, peach and red. They are laminated in A4 100g pouches and laid over the light source for documentation. More to follow...

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Reflecting on my Residency at Kurt Schwitters Merz Barn

My creative reflections were all discussed in my previous blog post. I discovered more than just artistic revelations on my residency.

Now I am back from Kurt Schwitters Merz Barn in Cumbria, I am pushed back into city life. I have had a lovely bath and snuggled in my own bed, however, it is the simplicity of Merz Barn I am missing.

It has been amazing to retreat for a week. 

I loved the fresh air, fresh eggs, the DIY approach. I enjoyed cooking vegetarian food with Alana and our evenings of chat.

I thought pictures would do more justice than words to my time spent at the Merz Barn between 13th - 19th October 2014.

Thank you Ian and Celia xx 

Monday, 27 October 2014

Day 7 - Kurt Schwitters Merz Barn Residency

On the last day on my residency at the Merz Barn in Cumbia it was time to reflect on my thoughts over the duration of the week. As I mentioned in a previous post, I had stapled a huge sheet of plastic to one of the gallery walls and had been writing the contents of my head on it all week with a permanent marker pen. It had grown quite a lot, as I had added to it whenever creatively conducive thoughts popped into my brain.

At the beginning I really struggled to write anything, but by reading, thinking and talking I managed to squeeze out lots of interesting ideas, starting points, questions and suggestions.

Before I set off to the Merz Barn, I had been questioning what, how, when, where.... I had been trying to think about my practice conceptually, formally and aesthetically and question myself on all accounts. I was trying to get to the bottom of why I was doing what I was doing, without losing any integrity and my personal interests: - I wanted to come away from the residency with some starting points for the future, not end points to a final work or to draw a conclusion. I wanted this residency to help challenge my ideas of thinking and allow me time to question my main concerns.


On the last day of my residency, Mark Devereux of Mark Devereux Projects was due to visit both fellow resident artist and buddy Alana Tyson and I for a critical feedback session. Alana laid out her works in the gallery space and I was ready to show Mark some of the photographic projects I had done over the course of the week - it was the sheet of plastic with my scribbles on that he was more interested in talking about.

Firstly, he asked me to talk through everything I had written down and add to the diagram if I needed. By saying my internalized thoughts out loud, I heard them for the first time (sounds obvious, I know). I further emptied my head during our conversation - this was a relief as it had been swirling for weeks regarding the questioning of my practice. Mark added to the wall diagram, picking out pivotal things I was saying and adding his ideas too. By the end of the session my mind was spinning again but this time in a good way instead of a confused way.

I had begun to realise what my focus was; I had even managed to pin it down to just one word: Luminous! I had thought about which of my previous works were the strongest and why, I had clearer ideas for the future and for possible lines of inquiry, I also had room to add to the sheet; which is exactly what I am going to do when I get back into my studio at Rogue.

It was through externalising my thoughts that I had come to realise that it wasn't the objects within my work that was of deep interest; they have been there as a device to stabilize the lighting elements and to create bridges for the colours to balance from. It is the purity of colour and how it effects our senses within an immersive environment that is of real interest. How do different colours affect us mentally, psychically and spiritually? How do our eyes respond to light? It is artificial light that interests me the most; where the colour choice is the saturate hues available in chemical manufacture, that I will investigate with rigor, intregue and delight.

The pieces of work I have made up until this point have lead to more sculptural end-points, where the lamps act as divisions or additions within the space; never-the-less illuminating it. It has been a frustration of mine that when people visit my works/exhibitions they sometimes fail to notice the glorious reflections and reverberations of colour around the room. Colour theory at work. It is my job to direct people to look at what I want them too, as well as their surrounds.

I want to take away any structures and investigate the impact of coloured light on us as a pure form. Light fills spaces, like a painting or sculpture or video or a performance. Only in my future inquiries it is the viewer becoming the performer and the walls becoming a huge light painting.

Then in was Alana's turn to have a critique. She learned lots of things too, you can read her blog from our time at Kurt Schwitters Merz Barn here:

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Day 6 - Kurt Schwitters Merz Barn Residency

After finishing my book yesterday, I was left with lots of different ideas for how to start testing and playing. I wanted to carry on with the mini-projects I had begun to set myself (I like good project), they were proving both useful and practical. 

I was beginning to find my voice again, after initially going on this residency with the aim to strengthen my ideas and challenge concepts within my practice, I was gradually learning bit by bit more about myself. Re-discovering why it is that I am so immensely fascinated with colour and light combined. 

Luminosity was the word that encapsulated both interests in a way that made sense to me. The notion of luminous colour seeping, spilling, bleeding and staining the surfaces around us has been present in my practice for years, now I had a word for it. 

In the essay 'The Luminous and the Grey' Batchlor writes;
Luminous colours, however old they are, appear to have a particular relationship with the world around them and with their beholders that is unlike that of other colours. First, these are colours that escape their containers and bleed into the street; they deliver what colour always promises bus doesn't always achieve: a release from the surfaces and materials that support it, a release that leads to the fleeting magic of the 'fiery pool reflecting in the asphalt'. p.49
My has always been my challenge and interest to capture this notion within my practice. This concern, I feel, now has to be researched, pulled apart and made into being work, as my understanding of the medium deepens.

Reading whilst on this residency has been initially challenging for me, but has given my so much back in return. When I return home, I shall keep it up, keep learning and keep feeding this knowledge back into the work I develop.

Today I started to think about luminous colour within nature (as it was on my doorstep). Making a series of 'colour slides' which became little jewels when held up to a light source. I was thinking small-scale in order to trial the idea, the photographs below demonstrate how flat surface colour become luminescent.

Remember what I wrote on Day 3? - "What interests me about colour in the natural/rural landscape is the vividness created when the intensity of the sun shines onto/though it. More on that later…" In this experiment I was testing this thought out, instead of using the sunshine (of which there was very little on this cold autumnal day) I used a bulb.