A painter living in the wilds of Yorkshire (Sheffield, so not really 'wilds' as such). Has been painting for 15 years, properly established in 2008.
Visit my portfoilio website at www.artbyandyonline.com

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Richard Bolam's work on display in DINA

As I write this post fellow walker around Sheffield city, Richard Bolam, is in the middle of his residency in DINA the new Sheffield arts venue with his project 'IN THE PIPE (Phase I) - video installation & mini-residency at DINA by Richard Bolam'.

In Richard's own words:
  • I am currently “in residence” at DINA, a new venue for events, arts and education at 32 Cambridge Street, Sheffield, UK. The installation is part one of phase one of a project that I have been planning for some time, called IN THE PIPE. This part of the project consists of loops of timelapse video that I shot of Park Square Roundabout in Sheffield. http://bolamshf.wordpress.com

For more details:

DINA venue's details:

First posted on my blog for the 31st March - 11th April 2016 APG Works painting show "Uncertain Spaces" - http://uncertainspaces.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/richard-bolams-work-on-display-in-dina.html

Monday, 25 January 2016

'Heterotopias' - Foucault's Description of 'Other' Places

An interesting youtube video created by architecture student Gladys Eugenia Tena Ley, "Public Spaces: Heterotopia, Places and Non-Places".

So, what is a 'heterotopia'? -

"Heterotopia follows the template established by the notions of utopia and dystopia. The prefix hetero- is from Ancient Greek ἕτερος (héteros, "other, another, different") and is combined with the Greek morphemes οὐ ("not") and τόπος ("place") and means "no-place". A utopia is an idea or an image that is not real but represents a perfected version of society, such as Thomas More's book or Le Corbusier's drawings. As Walter Russell Mead has written, "Utopia is a place where everything is good; dystopia is a place where everything is bad; heterotopia is where things are different — that is, a collection whose members have few or no intelligible connections with one another." From the Wikipedia article "Heterotopia (space)".

The term was created by Michel Foucault in his article "Of Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias" 1967, as a way to describe places of difference, "espaces autres", "other spaces". A heterotopia can be real and/or unreal a place or space that appears to be one thing but is actually something else. A space of change and ambiguity. Possibly a space of control, deception, or subversion. Possibly a space of escape, and release. Think of a theatre stage, during a play the space transforms often - You are no longer in a theatre you are in a forest, in a city, on the sea, in a motel room. A mirror is a heterotopia - you can see a space that doesn't physically exist yet for all intents and purposes it is there. Facebook can be considered a heterotopia. It uses the language of space - groups, walls, pages - yet all of it is virtual, unreal.

Before I go further a brief warning about the term heterotopia - the term is not an "either/or", as in a didactic "that, is a heterotopia" versus a "no, it's not" set of statements. Foucault leaves the term open in its bounds. If you can imagine a space, of whatever kind, as being a heterotopia, then essentially it is one. I would also suggest to not get too obsessed by the exoticsm of the term heterotopia, I find using "other space" when getting bogged down in the philosophical use of language helps free up the topic immensely.

Foucault develops his idea by advancing 6 principles of heterotopia. (The following list is a reconfiguration of the points in the Wikipedia article as after reading the original Foucault essay I found the list to be at fault. Also, with Foucault himself I have a problem. Though he lists 6 principles it is difficult to discern whether only one principle needs to apply or if all six do in some way to define something as a heterotopia, I'm going with the 'one principle' view. If more principles relate then all the better.)

  • 1) A ‘crisis heterotopia’ is a separate space where behaviours of change take place out of sight. In Foucault's words "there are privileged, sacred or forbidden places, reserved for individuals who are in relation to society and to the human environment in which they live, in a state of crisis: adolescents, menstruating women, pregnant women, the elderly, etc." Examples - boarding schools, military training schools, honeymoon suites, plastic surgery retreats. Foucault suggests that crisis heterotopia are being replaced by 'deviation heterotopia’ which are institutions where we place individuals whose behaviour is outside the norm. Examples - rest homes, psychiatric hospitals, prisons. Retirement homes and hospices fall under both deviation and crisis heterotopia definitions.
  • 2) Heterotopic spaces are hugely flexible in how they are related to and how they are used and because of this reflect changes in society and societal belief. Foucault focuses on cemeteries as an example for this principle and points out how societal changes in relation to religion have reflected in changes with how cemeteries are approached and considered. "In western culture the cemetery has practically always existed. But it has undergone important changes. Until the end of the eighteenth century, the cemetery was placed at the heart of the city, next to the church [...] in a time of real belief in the resurrection of bodies and the immortality of the soul, overriding importance was not accorded to the body's remains [...] it is from the beginning of the nineteenth century that everyone has a right to her or his own little box for her or his own little personal decay [...] it is only from the start of the nineteenth century that cemeteries began to be located at the outside border of cities. In correlation with the individualization of death and the bourgeois appropriation of the cemetery, there arises an obsession with death as an 'illness.' The dead, it is supposed, bring illnesses to the living, and it is the presence and proximity of the dead right beside the houses, next to the church, almost in the middle of the street, it is this proximity that propagates death itself. This major theme of illness spread by the contagion in the cemeteries persisted until the end of the eighteenth century, until, during the nineteenth century, the shift of cemeteries toward the suburbs was initiated. The cemeteries then came to constitute, no longer the sacred and immortal heart of the city, but the other city, where each family possesses its dark resting place." "The Second Principle" from Foucault's article.
  • 3) 'Contradictory heterotopia' which is a single real place which is composed of and/or juxtaposed by several other real/unreal spaces. Examples - a theatre stage (as mentioned above in it's ability to transform and flip into a variety of represented spaces), the cinema, a stately home garden, an art gallery, a TV screen.
  • 4) 'Temporal heterotopia' a place that provides an absolute break from the present that the viewer currently inhabits. Places that exist in time but also exist outside of time. This principle has two sub categories
    i. Places of infinite timelessness - e.g. ruins, cemeteries, museums.
    ii. Places of time "in it's most flowing, transitory, precarious aspect" which ironically exist outside of time - e.g. festival spaces, fairgrounds, holiday homes, skiing villages.
  • 5) 'Heterotopia of ritual or purification' are spaces that are isolated yet penetrable but not freely accessible to everyone unlike public places. To get in one must have permission and make certain gestures. Examples - temple, church, sauna, nightclub, masonic lodge, music concert.
  • 6) Heterotopia has a function in relation to all of the remaining spaces. The two functions are:
    i. A 'heterotopia of illusion' creates a space of illusion that somehow exposes structures that exist in every real space outside of itself. The 'heterotopia of illusion' of the brothel can point to the moral and ethical restrictions that are imposed everywhere outside of that space. I suggest that gay clubs exist in this category too as they allow for a freedom of behaviour that for a long period of time was deemed unsavioury to culture as a whole. For some cultures this is still very much the case.
    ii. A 'heterotopia of compensation' where the space's "role is to create a space that is other, another real space, as perfect, as meticulous, as well arranged as ours is messy, ill constructed, and jumbled." Foucault considers "the first wave of colonization in the seventeenth century, of the Puritan societies that the English had founded in America " are perfect examples of 'other places' of this second function.
For me, all of this gets me thinking about mundane spaces in the everyday. What urban/suburban spaces have the possibility to become heterotopic "other spaces"? Abandoned factories, car parks, bus stops, empty streets, closed shops. In what way do these spaces fit with Foucault's principles?

(Having written all of this there is a side of me that is wondering if this is all a load of deliberate intellectual bull on Foucault's behalf. *ponder ponder* Is this one huge Foucault mindgame?)

Websites of interest:

The Heterotopian Studies website develops Foucault's ideas

Books of interest:

Dehaene, M. and De Cauter, L. (eds.) (2008) "Heterotopia and the City"

Ritter, R. and Knaller-Vlay, B., (eds.) (1998) "Other Spaces: The Affair of the Heterotopia"

Hetherington, K. (1997) "The Badlands of Modernity: Heterotopia and Social Ordering"

First posted on my blog for the 31st March - 11th April 2016 APG Works painting show "Uncertain Spaces" - http://uncertainspaces.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/heterotopia-places-and-non-places.html

Sunday, 24 January 2016

‘Inner City Round Walk of Sheffield’ from 1996 - An Alternative Sheffield Walking Guide

Way back in 1995 I worked as an assistant in a general store ("Gene's") opposite Bramall Lane football ground. During still periods I would gaze over the local Star newspaper. In one issue there was a pamphlet advertised 'Inner City Round Walk of Sheffield: A 6 part exploration of urban Sheffield by Terence Howard'. I sent off for it and still 20 years later I am following its routes.

I want to call it a ''Not' The Sheffield Round Walk' (a well known city walk which takes in Sheffield's green spaces). It's a great walk of urban and suburban Sheffield which takes you around the city to look at and compare architecture with environment and hopefully provides an understanding of Sheffield history and past economies. I've completed it several times with my partner and seeing the shift in cityscape over the past 2 decades has been fascinating and at times disturbing as the industrial 20th century city changes as it tries to deal with the needs and impositions of the 21st century.

‘Inner City Round Walk of Sheffield’ (1996).
A 6 part exploration of urban Sheffield by Terence Howard.
ISBN: 0952293412
Illustrations by Dan Sumption and Gill Howard.

(Click on the images to see them in better detail.)

1 - Front Cover

2 -  Introduction

 3 - Key and Wybourn Map

 4 - Heeley & Sharrow Maps

5 - Broomhill & Upperthorpe Maps

6 - Pitsmoor Map

7 - Back Cover

First posted on my blog for the 31st March - 11th April 2016 APG Works painting show "Uncertain Spaces" - http://uncertainspaces.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/inner-city-round-walk-of-sheffield-from.html

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Walking In And Around Sheffield - Sheffield City Council Links, Info and Resources

I have taken the excellent following information from the Sheffield Council website's "Walking in Sheffield" page. I am hugely surprised by just how much comprehensive information is available. Time to get the walking boots on.

First posted on my blog for the 31st March - 11th April 2016 APG Works painting show "Uncertain Spaces" - http://uncertainspaces.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/walks-around-sheffield-sheffield-city.html

Friday, 22 January 2016

Books - 'Edgelands', 'Geography Of Nowhere', 'Non-Places', 'Night Walks', & 'The Sublime'

In this first blog I aim to introduce some of the books that I have read as I developed my new body of work. They may be of interest and they may give some extra insight into what I do and why I focus on it.

click here to buy at Waterstone's online

'Edgelands',  2012
By Michael Symmons Roberts and Paul Farley
ISBN-13: 978-0099539773

'Edgelands' are the spaces that are in-between and on the edge. Places that are and have been ignored, yet all of us pass through, possibly on a daily basis. Rather than see me wax lyrically about this book do watch this following video of the two authors describing their intent in the creation of this wonderful work.

Read an edited extract of the book on the Independent website here.

(Available to buy online from Waterstone's here.)

A great review of this book written by geographer and environment campaigner Marion Shoard can be read here. Marion Shoard is credited with creating the term 'edgeland' in the book "Remaking the Landscape: The Changing Face of Britain" edited by Dame Jennifer Jenkins. The essay has kindly been put online to read here. Listen to Marion Shoard giving a short talk about her thoughts on edgelands here.

click here to buy at Waterstone's online Marketplace

'The Geography Of Nowhere: The Rise And Decline of America's Man-Made Landscape', 1994
By James Howard Kunstler
ISBN-13: 978-0671888251 (Out of print)

I came across this book when looking for writing about cities going through huge moments of change. The title alone had me hooked.

This following general synopsis from the Waterstone's Marketplace Online describes the book perfectly -

"Eighty percent of everything ever built in America has been built since the end of World War II. This tragic landscape of highway strips, parking lots, housing tracts, mega-malls, junked cities, and ravaged countryside is not simply an expression of our economic predicament, but in large part a cause. It is the everyday environment where most Americans live and work, and it represents a gathering calamity whose effects we have hardly begun to measure. In The Geography of Nowhere, James Howard Kunstler traces America's evolution from a nation of Main Streets and coherent communities to a land where every place is like no place in particular, where the city is a dead zone and the countryside a wasteland of cars and blacktop. Now that the great suburban build-out is over, Kunstler argues, we are stuck with the consequences: a national living arrangement that destroys civic life while imposing enormous social costs and economic burdens."

(Though 'out of print' it is available to buy online from the Waterstone's Marketplace here.)

click here to buy at Waterstone's online

'Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity', 1995
By Marc Augé
ISBN-13: 978-1844673117

An incredibly dense book by French anthropologist Marc Augé. I have to confess that I found this incredibly hard going and some parts impenetrable. (I have seen some online comments suggest that there is a problem caused by a poor translation from the original French text.)

This 2008 video by Jon Stam, has selected quotes by Rem Koolhaas and Marc Augé concerning non-places.

Marc Augé presents his lecture "Architecture and non-places" in English to students at the Melbourne University in this 2013 video.

(Available to buy online from Waterstone's here.)


'Night Walks', (Penguin Great Ideas series) 2010
By Charles Dickens
ISBN-13: 978-0141047508
(Originally written 1860)

This essay was written by Dickens at a time when he was suffering greatly from insomnia. For him a way to deal with his frustration was by wandering the streets of London until he became weary. His wanderings were often varied and quite far. "Night Walks" is based on these rambles through the capital's moonlit streets. It's fascinating to read what closely amounts to a 'stream of consciousness' approach to writing describing the Victorian London he moved within. He writes about homelessness, drunkenness, and other vices. One bit that moved me hugely was his crossing the path of a hungry stray dog and his interaction with it. You will need to get hold of a copy to see what I mean as the moment he describes is incredibly vivid and tangible.

(Available to buy online from Waterstone's here.)

As an aside I have seen Victoria Woolf's "Street Haunting: A London Adventure" being used as a comparison with Dicken's essay.


'The Sublime: Groundwork towards a Theory', 1998
Tsang Lap Chuen
ISBN-13: 978-1580460279 (Out of print)

I stumbled across this book on Wikipedia during an internet search exploring thoughts and ideas about moments described as sublime. Art theorist and historian James Elkins in his essay 'Against the Sublime' argues that the contemporary understanding of the sublime is too wrapped up in relativism and bound to subjective experience and in turn open to too much interpretation that the term becomes unintelligible.

I disagree (surprise) and this is the purpose of Tsang Lap Chuen text to propose an idea of a relativistic sublime which is about reaching limits of experience - life-limits. So the sublime moment is not rooted in what is observed but in the individual reaching their limits and the awe that is then provoked on having reached that limit. The limit can be abstract/conceptual as well as physical/experiential.

In the book he describes the history of ideas underlining the sublime, and establishes 3 types of sublime experience.

1) The sublime of the mountain top - an upper limit, an affirmative mode - a conquering euphoric sublime. Examples - experiencing the majesty of Mount Everest and having climbed it, the Grand Canyon. (The 'Overview Effect'?).

2) The sublime born of being safe whilst being witness to possible destruction - a lower limit, a preservative mode - an abject sublime.
Examples - a tract of vast uninhabited nature, a neglected graveyard, being on the edge of a precipitous cliff.

3) The sublime born in the familiar, mundane and everyday being transformed into something other - an equilibrium, an appreciative mode - an uncanny sublime. Examples - a swallow's eyes, the fall of leaves in autumn.

It is the third sublime that I am specifically interested in.

(Though 'out of print' it is available to buy online from the Waterstone's Marketplace here.)

First posted on my blog for the 31st March - 11th April 2016 APG Works painting show "Uncertain Spaces" - http://uncertainspaces.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/books-edgelands-geography-of-nowhere.html