Tuesday, 31 August 2010


After another recky tonight with Tavis (my youngest) I have found several trees that I think will suit the pieces that I want to create. They are in a really darkly lit place, dense with moss and decay. I feel that this will add to the mood of the images even more - it just means that we will have to be more adventurous with the lighting I guess (won't we Eric?)

Next job on the list is to purchase an angle grinder! I had one but forgot that last time it was used was when my brother borrowed it and broke it before returning it! Family - who would av em!!!

I have taken a few shots of the trees I have in mind and placed them below for reference...


One thing that I wasn't expecting when I went to YSP was to find a room separate from everything else within the galley that was designated solely to the Twin Towers and September 11th.

This s a very different kind of work as it had a narrative: Nash created An Awful Falling 9.11 in 2001 after seeing images and film footage of the attacks on the Twin Towers, New York. It was not his intention to make a work in response, the exhibition notes inform, but he realised that a piece of beech he was developing looked ‘hauntingly like’ one of the images he had seen of the aftermath. The installation is displayed on its own as Nash sees it as separate from the evolution of his own practice, being a direct reference to global events. In his career Nash strives to make positive interventions in his environment, to work with natural processes and to develop a practice that both attempts to make sense of, and also celebrates, the world around us and our place within it. His career is inspired by the lived experience, including the tragic, the profound, and the gently humorous.

His sculptures resemble so much, those images we all have in our minds of that day. The burnt effect he has applied to the pieces further enhances the work and really leaves a numbness as you walk around the exhibit.


The first of my deliverables for this final dissertation is going to be a series of images that depict decay in various formats. The raw files were then taken into photoshop and a HDR render was applied to them to produce a series of 10 images that are going to be (Hypothetically) installed within an art gallery on death and decay.

Below are some of the images I have chosen to use for this first practical outcome. The HDR rendering really highlights the decay on these images and is a great medium to get across the subject of decay as covered in a previous post.


On Sunday I had a break from the writing and went for a walk at the back of the house to get some air.

Whilst I was out walking I came across an old tree stump and decided to copy a piece I had seen earlier in my research on Jacob Wolf Miller. Wasn't trying to re-invent the wheel just having a play with the materials around me. Tavis my youngest son came with me and thought it was "really cool Daddy, can I make some art with you"! SO we went back home and started to draw what Tavis wanted to make on our next exploration...


I have been searching high and low towards the end of last week to find someone that would be willing to crush up decaying material that I am gathering at the moment. I had a chap lined up about a month ago but he has now decided that it is going to make too much of a mess of his machine and has now withdrawn his offer (very frustrating).

Even my contact within the trade (Howard) has drawn a blank. This is really frustrating as the idea I have will make a really interesting sculpture and it would be a crying shame if I couldn't pull this one off.

I haven't given up hope yet but time is catching up with me and there isn't much of it left!!!!


Having recently visited The Yorkshire Sculpture Park in Wakefield, West Yorkshire it gave me some ideas as to where I wanted to take my final practical outcomes.

One piece that I was looking forward to seeing was the Antony Gormley piece: "One and Other" but when I asked one of the staff which way it was she told me that the tree stump that it had been erected on was decaying and for health and safety reasons it had been removed (ironic that!!).

David Nash has his largest collection of work exhibited here until February of next year. If you haven't been to the exhibitions yet I strongly advise you to check it out - it may be a bit of a trek to get around the whole site but it is well worth it. As you walk around the park you can see work from other people such as Andy Goldsworthy, Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, James Turrell and Jonathan Borofsky.

The installations from Henry Moore are amazing - there aren't many places around were you can see children using his sculptures as climbing frames and truely interacting with them.

One place that I really enjoyed was the Bothy Gallery, this is were Davis Nash's "Boulder" was exhibited. This wooden Boulder was a large wooden sphere carved by David in the North Wales landscape and left there to weather.

Over the years the boulder slipped and rolled its way through the landscape, following the course of streams and rivers until finally it was washed out to sea.

Since it was caught in the currents of the Irish Sea the sculptor has no idea of its location, and enjoys the notion that wood which grew out of the land will finally return to it. The story of the boulder is documented in a film by Welsh film-maker Pete Telfer.

This was a great piece of film documenting the journey this spherical wood took with no narration this piece was purely of the boulder and the sounds around it as it went on its journey.

The wooden boulder was last seen in June 2003 on a sandbank near Ynys Giftan. All creeks and marshes have been searched so it can, only be assumed it has made its way to the sea. It is not lost. It is wherever it is.

Friday, 27 August 2010


Well - over the past few days as well as polishing my new bike! I have been rummaging around the scrap yards and metal dealers in the area. I have managed to acquire a couple of mountain bikes, a kitchen sink (yep you read right) and several other small objects that I going to experiment with over the next couple of weeks.

I have also been lucky enough to get a friend of mine Eric (a professional Photographer) to document the final outcomes of this project. I can take a decent picture when I have to but as these pieces are going to be merged with nature and the outdoors they are not the sort of things that can easily be situated in a gallery so the only way of showing them in a true visual way is through the medium of photography. I would hate to go to all the trouble of creating these final pieces and them be let down by some (ok) photography. So thanks to Eric Howard of Karen Wright Photography, www.karenwrightphoto.co.uk. much appreciated.

I have been pondering over some issues regarding how I can make some of these objects look as though they have been in situ for a long while. This has lead me to using moss, when I was out with Richard Shilling we had a discussion about creating art without disrupting the natural flow and cycle. This has put me in a bit of a dilemma in taking moss from its natural environment and placing it on a foreign body. I am just thinking out aloud as I type this post so I will hopefully find a solution to this over the next few days.

I have found the location to create these pieces (I think) it is on common land so I am hoping that there are no issues with trespassing etc...

I have dropped in a couple of pictures some of the elements I will be using.

Well today is scheduled for a little more dissertation writing so I will close this post for now.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010


Back in the 1950s, old lifts were removed in the Notting Hill tube station in favor of more modern escalators. Recent work at the station revealed these posters in the old lift passageway.

There isn't any other information for this post other than it is great to not only find a place that has been untouched for some 5o years but look at the artwork for the old posters - they are great.


Michael Kareken received a BA in Visual art from Bowdoin College in 1983, and his MFA degree from Brooklyn College, CUNY in 1986. He also attended the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture (1988) and the Yale Summer School of Music & Art (1982). After graduating from Brooklyn College, Kareken lived and worked in New York City until 1993, when he moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Since 1996 Kareken has taught at the Minneapolis College of Art & Design, where he is a Professor of Fine Arts.

Kareken is the recipient of a 2010 Bush Artist Fellowship and a 2009-2010 McKnight Foundation Artist Fellowship. He has also received grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board (2007, 2000, 1996), Arts Midwest (1994), the New York Foundation for the Arts (1990), and the Vogelstein Foundation (1993), as well as a residency fellowship from the Millay Colony for the Arts (1988). He has received three Faculty Research Grants from the Minneapolis College of Art & Design.

In 1997 Kareken received The Louise Nevelson Award for Art and The Childe Hassam Purchase Award from the American Academy of Arts & Letters, and has also received awards in printmaking (2002, 2000) and drawing (1996) from the National Academy of Design.

Kareken has exhibited his work in numerous group and solo exhibitions regionally and nationally, including New York, Los Angeles, Seattle and Santa Fe. His work is held in the collections of The Walker Art Center, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, The Minnesota Museum of American Art, the Frederick Weisman Museum of Art, and the Minnesota Historical Society, among others.


The landscape I am most compelled to paint is the city or more specifically the fringes of the city. I spend a lot of time wandering around the vast industrial parks that have become a common part of our environment. I am attracted to the rich visual experiences these places offer. As a painter, the sensuality of the forms and the play of light and shadow, as well as the pure enjoyment of laying on paint engage me. I find beauty in these arcane structures, even if it their beauty is of an unconventional nature.

Valeri Larko has had numerous solo and group exhibitions of her paintings throughout the New York metropolitan area. Notable solo exhibits include The New Jersey State Museum, Trenton, Safe-T-Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, Bronx River Art Center, Art Guild of Rahway, NJ, Johnson and Johnson Corporate Headquarters Gallery, New Brunswick, NJ and the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, Summit, NJ. Notable group exhibits include The Jersey City Museum, The Morris Museum, The National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC, Aljira, a center for contemporary Art, Newark NJ, William Paterson University, Wayne, NJ, MB Modern in New York City and the Bruton Street Gallery in London, England.

In the fall of 2000 Valeri Larko was awarded a major mural commission from New Jersey Transit and the New Jersey State Council on the arts for the Secaucus Transfer Station. She painted four murals for their north mezzanine. Completed in August of 2003, the Secaucus Transfer Station is the largest train station in the state of New Jersey.

Valeri was awarded a public art commission in 2004. This time by the city of Summit to create two Fragmented Glass Murals for the Bus Shelter located in front of the city’s train station. Other honors include grants from both the George Sugarman Foundation for painting and the New York Foundation for the Arts Strategic Opportunity Grant in 2006, an Artist in Residence Fellowship from the Newark Museum in 2002, a New Jersey State Council on the Arts Fellowship Grant in 1992 and several awards from the National Academy of Design in New York City. Ms. Larko’s work is in the collections of the Jersey City Museum, The Montclair Museum, The New Jersey State Museum, Johnson and Johnson, Rutgers University and a number of other significant organisations.

Educated at the Du Cret School of the Arts, Plainfield, NJ and the Arts Students League, New York City, In 2004, Valeri moved from her long time residence in Summit, NJ to an artist loft building in New Rochelle, New York. Presently she holds the position of Director of the Tomasulo Gallery at Union County College, Cranford, New Jersey, a position she has held since1996. She is also a painting instructor at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, Summit, NJ and teaches international landscape painting.


Anna Held Audette began her career as a printmaker and later evolved into a painter. She taught at Southern Connecticut State University for many years and her books, The Blank Canvas and 100 Creative Drawing Ideas came out of that experience. Her main studio is in New Haven, CT. During the summer, however, she works in southern Vermont in a studio near the old farmhouse handed down from her family.

Her work ties in with this research project and her paintings are mainly of urban and industrial decay.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010


"Your Last Best Chance For Life--and Your Family's."

The Cryonics Institute offers cryopreservation services and information. As soon as possible after legal death, a member patient is infused with a substance to prevent ice formation, cooled to a temperature where physical decay essentially stops, and is then maintained indefinitely in cryostasis (ie, stored in liquid nitrogen). When and if future medical technology allows, our member patients hope to be healed, rejuvenated, revived, and awakened to a greatly extended life in youthful good health, free from disease or the aging process.

Since his teenage years in rural Minnesota, when he built a $500-a-week slot machine business financed from money he made trapping and selling mink and muskrat, Nevada casino-resort owner Don Laughlin has always lived large. At 79, he still tools around in his helicopter, surveying the town 100 miles south of Las Vegas named for him after he bought a local bankrupt saloon and motel that he built into the multimillion-dollar Riverside Casino Resort, which now attracts some 3 million visitors a year.

Many millionaires Laughlin's age spend time contemplating a life well lived and preparing for their day of reckoning. But not Laughlin. Not now and perhaps not ever.

Instead, he is one of almost 1,800 people around the world who has made arrangements upon his "legal death" to be cryogenically preserved, with plans to be resuscitated when modern medicine advances enough to treat whatever killed him. To support his "better-than-average" chance at one day being revived from a cryonic suspension, Laughlin says he's arranged for a portion of his estate to be placed in a trust designed to support him when he's revived.

"If you had said 100 years ago that millions of people would be flying around the world in airplanes, they probably would have tied you up at the stake and burned you," Laughlin says from his office at the 1,405-room casino and entertainment complex overlooking the Colorado River, where he still works most days. "Growing up on a farm in Minnesota, every year a lot of people would die of polio, scarlet fever and all of these different diseases. Then penicillin came along and eliminated a lot of them. Who's to say there won't be medical advances in the future that cure some of the diseases people die of today?
"It's a controversial subject, but it's better to have one chance than no chance at all," he theorises.

Science or science fiction?
Many cryonicists trace the idea that people can be "frozen" and later brought back to life to the 1964 book The Prospect of Immortality, written by Robert Ettinger, a physics teacher, science fiction devotee and founder of one of two U.S. cryogenics facilities operating today, the Cryonics Institute (CI) in Clinton Township, Mich., according to the CI website. The word "cryogenics" is derived from the Greek words "kryos," which means cold or freezing, and "genes," meaning "born" or "one that is produced."

The 73-year-old psychologist James Bedford was the first person to be cryogenically preserved in 1967 upon his legal death (a distinction cryonicists make from "biological death"), according to the Web site of Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale, Ariz., the other U.S. cryonics facility. Bedford's body is still housed there.

The process of cryopreservation ideally begins within minutes of death. Blood circulation and breathing are artificially restored to the body, much in the same way doctors do during a heart transplant, ostensibly to protect the brain from deterioration because of a lack of oxygen. The body is then quickly transported to CI or Alcor. Once there, the body -- or in the case of neurocryopreservation, only the head -- is prepared to be cooled to negative 320 degrees Fahrenheit and stored in liquid nitrogen contained in fiberglass or large stainless steel vacuum-insulated containers. They are kept until the day "re-animation" is possible.

A total of 185 human bodies or heads and 100 pets are currently stored at Alcor and CI, according to statistics maintained on the CI website. As of Dec. 31, 2009, another 1,746 people are dues-paying members of the organizations, many of whom have made arrangements to have life insurance policies or trusts pay the tab for their cryopreservation and ultimate revival.
While "there are some fairly well-known people who are not public with their cryonics arrangement," says Rudi Hoffman, a 53-year-old cryonicist and certified financial planner, those who have been preserved include baseball legend Ted Williams and Dick Clair, creator of the Emmy award-winning NBC TV show Facts of Life, which aired throughout most of the 1980s. Contrary to a popular urban myth, Walt Disney was not cryogenically preserved, the Alcor site also notes.

Edward O. Thorp, a mathematician and hedge fund industry pioneer in his late 70s, has also created a multimillion-dollar trust to support himself should he be re-animated after his planned cryopreservation, The Wall Street Journal has reported. (Contacted by e-mail for this report, Thorp replied he did not have time to discuss his cryonics-related estate planning because of a family medical issue.)

Although the erroneous image "of a Frankenstein coming out of a tank behind a walled mansion" persists, "the technology is actually a lot farther along than most people think," said Hoffman, whose Port Orange, Fla., firm has sold whole life insurance policies to about 1,000 policyholders who want to fund their cryonic suspension with life insurance proceeds. "A lot of scientists and skeptics who have been waiting on the sidelines are now looking at this seriously and getting their life insurance in place."

Typical cryonicist: Male, intelligent, but not necessarily wealthy
The "average cryonicist is male with an extremely high intelligence level, and is often a mathematician or computer engineer," Hoffman says. John Dedon, a principal in the trust, estate and tax planning practice of Washington, D.C.-area law firm Odin, Feldman and Pittleman, agrees that his cryogenic clients are smart and accomplished. "There's a somewhat limited audience, but the ones I've worked with are incredibly successful and bright," he says, adding that he's designed trusts for six to eight cryonicists. "I wish I had a hundred more of them."

In addition to sometimes macabre misnomers, "one of the myths about cryonics is that it's only for wealthy weird dudes," Hoffman said. "Through the magic of life insurance, it's also available to non-wealthy weird dudes," he adds, with a self-deprecating laugh.

Hoffman, who's completing a book to be titled The Affordable Immortal, says, "For the price of a cup of coffee every day, you can have the possibility of seeing the year 3000."

Alcor charges $150,000 for whole-body cryopreservation or $80,000 for neurocryopreservation, with surcharges for members outside of the United States and Canada or for "last minute, non-member cryopreservations." But Hoffman says he usually sells life insurance policies to cover costs totaling $250,000 to also pay for transportation costs to the Arizona or Michigan facility and the likely increase in cost over time in cryogenic procedure and preservation. He then often works with clients to secure and invest assets they will live on in the event of re-animation.

Estate planning raises interesting questions
While estate attorneys and planners often tackle thorny issues for their clients, few are as challenging as the issues raised by cryonicists.

"We think of [cryogenics] as sort of a deep freeze, that an individual's body and mind come back intact, but the reality could be very different," says Thomas Katz, an estate planner at the law firm Katz Baskies, LLC, in Boca Raton, Fla. "For example, what if it's the same body, but there are no memories? Is that the same person? Or what if all the memories are intact in the very same brain, but you have a different body?"

Philosophical issues aside, Dedon says most individuals planning for cryogenics and a future revival should start with a typical "dynasty trust" that is legal in many states and which traditionally depends upon life insurance to either pay estate taxes, provide for survivors, or both.

"From a life insurance perspective, the proceeds, instead of providing for future generations, would provide for your cryogenics preservation or for you once you're revived," Dedon says. "From that perspective, life insurance may be an even more critical component" in estate planning for cryonicists.

Trusts can be longer, less vulnerable to challenge
Katz adds that in the past decade or so, the legally allowed period a trust may exist has been extended in many states, making it more likely that a cryonicist's trust could withstand legal challenge from heirs who think dad’s science fiction fantasies should take a backseat to their family's current financial needs. For example, Florida allows estates to establish trusts for as long as 360 years, while "many other jurisdictions allow trusts forever," he says. In one recent case, Katz designed a trust for a cryonicist who designated that a portion of his life insurance proceeds go to his wife and children, with the remainder going into a trust to support him upon revival. "If he has not come back in some fashion within 360 years, the trust proceeds will go to charity," Katz adds.

Still, not all variables are controllable. Two individuals who died in the 2001 World Trade Center attacks had plans to be cryopreserved, Hoffman says. In instances in which bodies are unrecovered or too damaged or decomposed to allow the procedure to take place, proceeds from life insurance policies or trusts go to a secondary beneficiary.

"Those of us who are cryonicists are very aware that there are many unknowns to overcome, but we believe deeply that it's a very rational, reasonable gamble," Hoffman says.


Ageless, the Anti Age Perfume, Promises To Keep You Smelling Fresh


Forever young? Well, unless you're experimenting with cryogenics a la Christian Troy, eventually, no anti-aging cream or plastic surgery procedure will save you from the signs of aging (hey, Joan Rivers tried her hardest and look at how that turned out!). That being said, we can try to preserve our youthful looks without resembling a science experiment gone awry - it just requires some precautionary measures: from maintaining a proper diet to exercising regularly, avoiding cigarettes, using SPF protection, investing in the right moisturizers and eye treatments, etc.

But here's the scary part: apparently, as we age, our bodies start smelling a bit different, revealing our true ages. Now, I'm not necessarily talking about that dreadful "old people" smell (and yes, I know it sounds really politically incorrect but, if you've spent any time around viejitos on the bus or at the doctors' office, you know what I'm referring to! It's like a baby-powder-meets-Depends-meets-dust smell that's thoroughly unpleasant). But in any case, I'm not necessarily alluding to that severe a smell -- I suppose it's just that, as you experience hormonal changes, your body's pheromones smell differently. And, apparently, this can happen as early as your 30s and 40s - which freaks me out.

That's where Ageless, a new anti-aging perfume developed by Harvey Prince & Co., comes in. In clinical trials, women who sprayed this scent on their bodies were believed to be about 8 years younger than they actually were. Now, I tried the perfume on several times and while nobody mistook me for a college student or anything of the sort, I did get many compliments on the scent. So, while I can't guarantee that you'll actually smell younger, I CAN tell you that you'll smell quite good.

The Ageless fragrance features top notes of pink grapefruit, pineapple, mango, apple, pomegranate and leafy greens, a heart of jasmine, lily of the valley, peony and cherry blossom, and a dry down of musk, precious woods and vanilla for a fruity floral scent that's refreshing and feminine.

Monday, 23 August 2010


Danny forwarded this great idea for a continuation of the life/death cycle.

This is a 240 pencil set made from the carbon of a cremated human. Each pencil is foil stamped with the name of the deceased.

The clever part
Only one pencil can be removed at a time. You sharpen the pencil by putting it back in the box. The shavings then occupy the space of the used pencils. Over time the pencil box fills with sharpenings — turning the box into a new urn (it’s filled with the shavings which are made from the cremation).

Sunday, 22 August 2010


So what did I learn today?

Well, something quite useful actually. That it's possible to eat cold pasta with two pencils.

I started the day a little bit pickled from the night before, shcatter-brained and dishorganished.

Dave - he who do the MA about Decay - was accompanying me again and I hadn't made my mind up where we should go. For once I knew what I wanted to create and I would rope Dave into help but I couldn't decide where. We would need stone and the first option has some great stone but sadly I'm banned from doing anything there, the next two are next to rivers but the very heavy rain of yesterday would probably mean they would be too high to gather enough material.

So just as Dave arrived I checked the tide and it would be at its height in an hour and half.

We arrived on the coast and the tide was still high but fortunately I had left my camera behind so a return journey home and back to the bay would mean our second arrival to the bay would be timed with it just starting to recede. Perfect.

Along with that the sun was shining and the sky was blue, not what we were expecting and not what the weatherman said. Even better.

I've been putting together another proposal for a commission and the ideas I am pursuing are to do with the fragility of our existence and the possibility that we have reached a tipping point where our actions (or perhaps lack of the right ones) may end up in our own demise. 2010 so far has had the highest global temperatures on record and whether or not you believe that this is man-made or a natural fluctuation of earth temperatures, in my opinion is missing the point.

Human beings have spread far and wide and taken all that they can from the earth in order to feed our addiction to needing stuff and to be able to increase our ability to survive, to protect ourselves from our environment, to keep our families safe and well. But as we've persued these needs with have funnelled ourselves into a trap where our collective future is now uncertain. We talk about saving the planet but that is rot. If we truly wanted to save the planet then it'd be better off if we all disappeared. No, what we really mean when we say we want to save the planet is we want to save our own skins.

In order to represent this I am going to create a series of shelters containing rock balances, seal them up so that the fate of each delicate sculpture is unknown unless you look within. Just as our lust to better ourselves, to protect ourselves from the world and to have a better chance of survival has ripped all the finite resources from our planet and delivered us to a place where this quest has left us with an uncertain future. Will we be able to shelter from what our earth will throw at us now if our climate tips out of control? Will our delicate existence continue or will it collapse like a stack of pebbles and rocks?

There is much more to this project but I don't want to reveal it all now.

Anyway back to the important business of the day:-

My camera wasn't the only item I'd forgotten. When I sat down to eat some lunch I realised I didn't have a fork. I thought that I might be able to whittle one out of driftwood but that might need more calories than the pasta might contain. I looked through my bag and found a pair of scissors and some thorns. Nope, that wasn't going to do it. How about I just stick my face in the food and eat it like a pig? I probably would have done if I'd been on my own. I know, why not use two pencils as chopsticks? They were actually easier to use than normal chopsticks. So if in doubt make sure you always have two pencils with you. Or else you might go hungry.

Dave built the left wall and I built the right hand one. We found some driftwood for the roof and it was now ready for the sculpture to be built within. I tried several times to get the first few layers up but I couldn't sense where the centre of gravity was without being able to stand above it and all I ended up with was backache and a feeling of frustration.

We took down the roof and I begun again. This time, still with effort and much searching for the right stones, I got it to stand. Gingerly we replaced the roof, being careful not to drop anything into the chamber and stood back to review what we had done. Originally I'd wanted to extend the sides and brick up the entrance but I thought it was fine just as it is.

I wonder how long it will last?


Saturday, 21 August 2010


Mourners are increasingly choosing to do something different with the remains of their departed loved ones.

Until recently, the trend was for burial or a discreet scattering of the ashes in a remote far-away place that had sentimental memories for the bereaved, or their family member.

But now those left behind are looking for something different.

Those who are still following a reasonably traditionalist route, can find places of beauty on National Trust land.
The Trust says it does not have a formal policy and will consider requests as long as they have no adverse effect on the environment.

"We are in charge of a lot of coastlines so obviously we can't police all of that and as long as it does not interfere with others enjoyment of a property," a spokesman said.

English Heritage, too, seems to be quite kind-hearted about the idea.

The caretaker of Stonehenge says: "It is not possible to scatter ashes within the Stone Circle itself, however it is possible in other areas of the site."

The Royal Parks, on the other hand, are against the idea, saying: "Remains contain high levels of minerals and other elements which, over time, can sterilise the soil and leach into watercourses..."
Among the latest strange offerings are organisations such as Ashes into Glass, which turns your loved one into jewellery or paperweights, or Heaven's Above Fireworks, which specialises in firework displays that incorporate some of a person's remains.

If you want to go further afield, HAF even offers memorial space flights which sends a small portion of the ashes into space.
Artist Jason Shulman decided on his own tribute to his father by incorporating his father's ashes into an artwork.

The sculpture was aptly called "A Piece Of My Father".

Some people keep their loved one’s ashes in an urn on the mantelpiece; others scatter them to the wind. A contemporary artist, however, has decided to pay tribute to his late father by using his cremated remains as part of a new artwork.

The work, entitled A Piece Of My Father, is on display as part of Magnetic Vision, a new exhibition at London’s Kinetica, the UK’s first museum dedicated to kinetic, electronic and experimental art.

Created by London-based artist Jason Schulman, the piece comprises suspended particles extracted from the ashes of his father by use of a magnetic field - together with brightly coloured elements, which have been meticulously sorted, sieved and filtered from his father’s remains.

“My father died, he was 92, and I went to collect his ashes from the funeral director,” Shulman told the 24 Hour Museum. “While I was there a thought dropped into my mind from a book I once read as a child about how, if you broke the human body down, you could get something like six erasers, four pencils, four horseshoe nails and things like that. What I particularly remembered was the iron in the body for the horseshoe nails.”

After being given a tour of the crematorium and a detailed explanation of the processes that go into the cremation of the human body, Shulman took the plastic bucket full of his father’s ashes back to his studio to test out the iron theory.

“I got a huge electromagnet and sifted the remains, which are like coarsely ground coffee, and all the iron basically stuck to the magnet.”
Emboldened by this remarkable discovery, he then spent the next couple of months meticulously filtering all the colours – the greens, the reds and the blues – visible in the remains, which appear as a result of the bones oxidising.

“It’s a very cathartic process to go through and it’s quite shocking coming across gallstones or a filling,” he added. “A great anvil drops on your head at the enormity of the experience. I think I kind of connected and disconnected with him at the same time – and to be honest I’m still surprised I did it.”

“My initial worry was how the family would react, because at the time they didn’t know I was doing it, but when they came to see the piece they were actually okay about it. I honestly don’t know what other people will make of it.”

The finished piece features beautiful stratified layers of colour and iron encased in a glass tube, which is precariously suspended by a thin thread above a concrete floor. If a heavy lorry trundles along the road outside the gallery, the whole piece shakes as though it could fall at any moment – effectively evoking a second level of mortality and adding a strangely human dimension to the work.

It is, by its nature, a very personal work. But unlike other pieces of modern art Shulman, who has been praised by fellow artist Marc Quinn as “one of the most interesting artists I have seen for a long time,” says the piece is most definitely not for sale. “I will never sell it,” he said. “It will remain an art piece, but selling it would be like selling your own grandmother.”

It’s probably this personal and human element which makes this piece of art different from the other equally fascinating pieces on show – many of which display technologies such as electromagnetism as well as sound waves and computer technology.


As well as spending time with Richard building a land art project this afternoon I also found some time to scour the beach for objects that visualise decay.

Above are a selection of the pictures I took - I particularly liked the images I took of the huge piece of drift wood root which I couldn't stop taking pictures of - it really drew me in with all the different textures and the starkness of its colour. There was also lots of rubbish that had been washed up and the salt water from the sea had already taken a few prisoners!! There were also some really interesting grain patterns from some large stump trees that had been washed up on the beach. It was really good to get out and really search for interesting images that really get across the narrative of decay.


Today (Saturday 21st August) I went on another Land Art trip to Heysham with Richard Shilling. The purpose of todays project was to experiment with an idea Richard has for a proposal he is putting together for Lancaster University regarding the new LICA Building.

I helped Richard today in as much as building one side of the wall (the left). It was great working with Richard - he has given me inspiration for my practical outcomes over the last two meetings and watching and listening to him at work has helped me to focus more on what I want to achieve from this final dissertation of my MA. - Thanks Richard for putting up with me!!!

Above are a few of the images from todays piece of land art.