Selected Other Works

An entry for the Turner Prize

I have looked at the Turner prize over the years and almost out of the blue had a notion that I would like to make an entry. For a while I mused on what exactly an entry by me would add to the culture; very little, until I remembered a work I began on cows when I lived in London.

Having retired to Dorset for nearly twenty years I have seen many cows and grown ever fonder of them. City farms aside the last cows living in London were in Peckham and perhaps a few years longer in Highgate, on a small stretch of grass in front of 'The Ovaltine Factory' but I could be mistaken it's so long ago now.
Apart from cows since my retirement I have had time to develop an interest in ways scientists have spent their lives and in particular a love of thermodynamics. I make no claim to an understanding of science; it's hard enough trying to understand art but having an interest and being an amateur is fine by me.
Here are my notes then as I build up what I would like to propose as an prize entry; they may well change as I move towards my submission because I like the notion of something on my website that is unfixed.


Patterns: -

My entry for the prize is The System; a system can be closed or open; as my entry is as yet incomplete (just a notion at the back of my mind as it were) it may turn out to be either.

One of the things about entropy is expressed as the degree to which elements of a system can be rearranged without noticeable differences when looked at from the outside. High entropy is disordered in that it needs lots of work to get it organised … umm … I'll have a think about abstract expressionists and field painters which may sound odd, out of context even because rather than look in wonder I'd be using them as illustrations but as I think that an aspect of art is a method of human balance I need to examine the route that brought me to my current thought.

I shall/should aim in my entry for low entropy (high quality) a prize entry; it'll be tricky because most human activities tend towards states of disorder. What I wonder would be the
amount of entropy in art works like these two for example

Kelly Artwork

Elsworth Kelly



Pieter Brueghe

This may seem obvious at first glance but just how would one set about judging the amounts of work done in these paintings and though one looks tidy and the other more random the whole aim is to present a rectangle where even the slightest change would alter/ruin the whole work; then there are 'the lookers' who also add work as they see and respond to the art within these two contexts. This leads to another thing I feel bound to consider in my efforts for a valid entry, namely the cold sink (In thermodynamics the cold sink is where the heat ends up after it has done some work and plays a vital function in the process). I think that the cold sink in the art world has been disregarded; it is essential for an efficient system to include the cold sink as an integral part rather than the leaving the surroundings viewed as, for example, the hoi pol-loi.



The surroundings for my entry/system are the judges, the audience and perhaps a farm, oh and perhaps a vet. I can add things to my system if it turns out to be open; you cannot add things to a closed system.
N.B. systems are defined by their boundaries.

Letting the cat out of the bag perhaps a little prematurely my entry shall include a Friesian cow, that's the black and white ones. I wondered about their colouring and found that Alan Turing had worked on vertical and horizontal stripes on Tigers and Zebras coming up with this formula.

Formula Example

I find it interesting how research constantly seems to offer side tracks, getting my entry for this prestigious prize has taken me into many unknown places that as ever, with my work, begin and often end up as disparate jottings; I have to keep repeating to myself that these notes will in the end become an important part of my attempt to enter the prestigious Prize

My cow, I had thought to buy one, may end up as a depiction because I wouldn't want to harm her by cruel usage but for me she lives in the system along with these notes. I shall have to remain content with photographs and notes and still hope that this is a successful bid. That said I'd really love there to be a live cow in Tate Britain, perhaps I could insist on a hole in the wall looking out onto an area of lush grass where 'my beauty' grassed.
The black and white patterns on Friesian cows fascinates me, they must all be unique and I have tried to understand as much as I can about the complexities of patterns. Here for example is a quote from Peter Atkins book Galileo's Finger

"A repeating pattern for a frieze has five variations; wallpaper variations are also limited this time to seventeen variations"

I wonder if there is a pattern for judges to follow when they look at the contestants for a competition; so I made up a quote I would have liked to have found

"Many systems operate along clandestine lines whether or not they claim open or closed entry. 'The Art World' is no exception"

Contestants :-

Contestants for the Turner Prize may or may not be in equilibrium.
Equilibrium may well be disturbed during the selection process.
Judges, outside the system, may affect the equilibrium; in fact it is almost impossible for judgements not to do so.
If contestants for the prize A and B are in equilibrium and also contestants B and C are also in equilibrium then contestants A and C can also be considered to be in equilibrium.
Post judgement a winner of the Turner prize may well be moved out of equilibrium with the other contestants.
Prizewinners move into other systems or indeed the art world itself; a few also enter the celebrity system and become celebrity artists who may not be in equilibrium with the art world.

The celebrity system
Celebrity artists have to face a shift of entropy leading to states of disorder.

"Making fire is easy; making a steam engine is difficult"




As an apparent/possible side issue Ludwig Boltzmann committed suicide in 1844, on his tombstone is written

S=K logW

Sometimes, the things which you know about the world are not a complete picture of it: this coffee cup in my hand has a certain volume of coffee, a certain temperature, an internal pressure profile, sugar content, number of molecules of water, et cetera. That's on the order of 10 variables that we know.

When art flows through us we stand a small chance of balance from both sides of any hiatus.



Understanding the celebrity system is different on the inside and or outside.
In a way dead artists cannot be created or destroyed whether or not they are or are not discovered. Work is key here rather than the success of truth; perhaps like heat art doesn't flow even though it feels as if it does.
If any kind of artist is doing work they will be changing energy from one state to another. High entropy would mean less energy available to do useful work however low entropy indicates energy is available.

All entrants for the Turner Prize must be prepared to do work which might mean engagement with the audience and open what may currently be a closed system.
An audience, outside the system might not see the same work on different occasions when they look because a work may be a process and not an entity. I must keep in mind.





"Making fire is easy; making a steam engine is difficult"

Heat is an entity and frequently used without knowledge. There is plenty that's right with this; understanding is not possession, see Lion Hunt in the British Museum



A few last things before ending this part of my entry concerning the Tunicate or sea squirt they, sea squirts eat their own brains; a brain demands much of our energy so if we could learn to do without them, well, we might just balance humanity.

I had a friend sadly no longer whinnying with us who complained about not winning the lottery; when I pointed out she needed to buy a ticket she declared this to be insufficient reason.

I have no idea how to enter the prize but this is my entry anyway. When I taught students they had to apply to degree courses after completing a foundation year and were often asked to supply 'back up work'; now I know there may be hidden danger in 'the delight of the first idea' but forcing students, anyone even to provide:-
for example, 'pre' drawings that lead towards a completed painting, well really. None the less I have been with this work for some considerable time now so there are to be back up notes included in the submission.

Alas there will almost certainly never be an entry that counts but were I given the opportunity to enter I am convinced I would be short listed especially were I able to include a contented live Friesian cow.

Visual part of entry


1. Sirloin. 2. Rump. 3. Aitchbone. 4. Buttock. 5. Leg. 6. Flank. 7. Thin Flank. 8. Brisket. 9. Prime Rib. 10. Middle Rib. 11. Chuck and Leg-of-Mutton Piece. 12. Neck. 13. Head. 14. Clod. 15. Shin.


Click the file below to see the larger version.

Final Turner Prize Cow small - click here for large


4 Wrapped MDF laminated prints - 27" x 44"

Marcel Proust   Albert Einestine portrait   Sigmund Freud portrait   Willber Wright

After I had retired and moved to Dorset I tried to engage with work managed on computers; what I didn't know was how tricky it is to do it well. My things tended to make those you know roar with laughter as I flicked coloured lines of Quark with mouse and keyboard.

A Quark maestro I had once taught drawing sat with me watching as my thoughts on these four men became an artwork.

They are Marcel Proust, Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud and Wilbur Wright. I had wanted to include Paul Cezanne but he didn't entirely follow the thought pattern.

Marcel describes the arrow and cycle of time, Albert the curve of gravity and Sigmund the bending of our unconscious minds; Wilbur's challenge to fly a figure of eight was managed by wing warping or curve-bending his wings.

The first three quotes are deliberately misplaced, only Wilbur's is correctly aligned; that's because his quote discribes an action, the others abstract notes of mind perhaps belonging to us all.

Click on the images above to view them large

Coastal Waters

17 Framed A4 Giclee prints in a fabricated wooden crate.

Coastal Waters Crate




















Irish Sea
















Fair Isle





Forth   Tyne    

A musical recording of 'Sailing By' on the radio precedes the shipping forecast and the mentioned names of our U.K.s Coastal waters. From the general synopses to the detail comes information that is vital for anyone about to venture away from the U.K. shores by boat. Affection seems to be the word most people use if asked about the tune but for me it is accompanied by a vacancy. Vacancy is a word that comes to mind if I think about a phase of my life that began in the 1970s; 'Vacant affection' seems out of sync but perhaps not for me back then.

In the 1970s I had a friend who lived in Norfolk, his parents had a large home there and I spent some weekends there with him along with other guests. Cromer was not far away and on a visit there one day at the end of the pier a notion popped into my head to collect some seawater; at that time I had no idea why or what it would lead to.

Vacancy, as I'm calling it now, allows me to avoid a tale of woe that has become tedious; I have to admit though that sometimes the chemicals/memories or whatever they are may reach gale force as I remember my rage. For then though all I had was a jar with some seawater. Some thirty years later I made a large wooden box hung with photographs of my collection that could be entered. I'd faffed around a lot in the in-between years with efforts to make the work but vacancy dominated my thinking.

It's not a bad work of art, I still like it and perhaps because of it I can see gaps.

A more recent work just begun is about gaps too though of a different kind but there are defiantly going to be a few more jars and bottles of water; I'm excited.


Photo montage of The Feminist Ambassadors

Along with many others, I have looked at Holbein's depiction of the Ambassadors throughout my life. When I gave a talk about the work to a group of retired scientists a feminist version came to mind. My notion being that it would add a little humour for us all. This art print stems from that notion and is a montage using the decorative astronomical instruments I made as versions of Nicholas Kratzer's originals.


The Feminist Ambassadors

Animation and 5 framed prints - 1330mm x 320mm

Art print
on 160g coated paper.

View the Art Print as a large scroll.
View the animation for desktop.
View the animation for mobile device.

Echos from the past

A large collection of photographs taken of people in London during the 1970's. They are unlike anything I had been taught to look at, not following any traditional rules of framing images.

Click here to see the whole set.

Aged slide of man


Genuine 1970s haircut and not Noel Gallagher



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