Saturday, March 18, 2017


I have started publishing short pieces on Linked In.  Gives me a chance to adopt a slightly different persona, perhaps.  Here's a link to the latest


It was sparked by a response to my previous post, which was about my dad and some of the paintings he did over the course of his long life.  They provide fascinating insights into the cultural life of the industrial north of England ,where I grew up. Jo wondered how I would set about depicting the social setting I live in today, as a guest-worker in Dubai.  Here's my dad's work

Actually these are all early works of his, from my childhood days.  I get very nostalgic looking at these.  I wonder if my children will get nostalgic about my Dubai pictures, 40 years from now.

About a month ago, I took some pictures of the mish-mash of low-grade shops and apartment balconies that I see on my walk to buy some local fruit and veg.  I live in International City, in fact I'm one of the pioneers who moved into this tacky/vibrant district while it was still under construction.  Actually it's Dubai, so it's still under construction ... but it was barely half built when I moved in ten years ago.  Lots of lorry drivers and nurses, receptionists, shop assistants, etc living here.  It's not very stylish, but it's kind of "real" which is difficult to find in a theme park city.

Here's what I did with one of the images.

So what is this about?  Is it art?  WTF is art anyway? ....
Exactly.  Those are the kinds of questions I'm exploring.  Trying to get more physical and intuitive, to reconnect with my submerged "drawing self", which used to be one of my primary identities.  At the same time I want to integrate this with the digital tools and processes I've been using the last couple of decades.  So you've go digital photography; hand sketching; layers, filters, transparency ... all mixed up together in a semi-accidental way while I focus my attention mainly on how to create an image that captures how I feel about this environment I live in.

In a way it's not much different from Georges Braque mixing oil paint and newspaper clippings etc ,,, except a lot less innovative and significant of course.  No big ambitions here, just me amusing myself as usual.  One of the things about art, for me, is always the interaction between form an content.  You keep flipping between the quality of the paint as "stuff on a flat surface", pure abstraction if you like, and the meaning: the emotions, the magical conjuring up of 3 dimensional reality, memories, social commentary.  So I'm absorbed in technique: how to get the digital and manual working together convincingly.  And I'm also deeply intrigued by what kinds of images I can use to capture the last 13 years of my life as an alien in the desert.

Here's the view from my desk at work, if I turn my head sideways (more or less)

I like the layers here.  A series of stripes really.  And it's kind of receding but it's also kind of flat and abstract.  I've tried to create some kind of tension between the way different stripes are treated ... the blurring in the foreground (which is kind of a cheat) the rather sloppy line drawing of the second hand car lot, overlaid with the slightly more painstaking and mechanical cross hatching of the wire fence.  Then there's the somewhat palette knife feel of the orange box vans, jumping forward from the background.  The cardboard cutout effect that emerged when I was working on the skyscraper skyline.

Anyway I'm not trying to get all pretentious here.  Just giving a feel for the stuff that flows across my consciousness as I struggle to get to grips with this activity.  It's very different from building BIM models, and I really like that.  Watch out for the next phase, when I start to sketch over Revit renders. 

"What's BIM about that ?" you may ask.  Well if BIM is about gaining deeper insights and making informed decisions, then a different perspective might just help.  If we have started to realise that BIM is really about connecting different software packages together in agile ways, so the "data flows".  And if we also know that the hard part of BIM is the people, the human interactions, the deeply embedded behaviours ... maybe we need to integrate the more physical and intuitive type activities into the BIM loop.

More to come.

1 comment:

I've been getting a lot of spam so had to tighten up comments permissions. Sorry for any inconvenience. I do like to hear from real people