Tag Archives: lichen

mind over matter

Sunday 12 February 2012

the surfaces of the sculptural ‘woodwork’ pieces have progressed which has in turn inspired something else…

sculptural relief wood panels in art studio

see previous states of this work in progress here: on making art again and not a painting, not a sculpture.

on the much smaller panels (gesso on wood), there is a deep bloom of patina, quite muted and monochromatic at the moment, with the illusion of atmospheric depth (if it is a given that painting is always an illusion).

patina on gesso wood panels in art studio

and inbetween things, some sketchbook drawing…

in the new year i decided to watch three tarkovsky films almost back-to-back (a feat of visual endurance) with some sideline dipping into ‘sculpting in time‘. it was interesting to compare tarkovsky’s writings on art and film to the ‘the non-object through painting‘ (with only six illustrations!) – slow looking, slow narratives, subtle signs and symbols that we wait (or wish) to discover for what they might reveal to us about the perilous course (and meaning) of life – allusions and analogies aplenty.

art is born and takes hold wherever there is a timeless and insatiable longing for the spiritual, for the ideal: that longing which draws people to art.

andrei tarkovsky, sculpting in time

there are always books of various kinds ‘open’ here, as art seems unavoidably connected to various strands of philosophical thinking – artists are natural thinkers although we may take some time to arrive at any clear conclusions.

last week i read an excerpt of foucault’s the order of things; back in 2007 a work colleague had mentioned this book, because of foucault’s critical discussion of the interplay of analogies or ‘similitudes‘ as he terms them, to communicate and construct a universal ‘taxonomy’ of knowledge (inspired by a story by borges). this resonated with me:

the interplay of duplicated resemblances to all the realms of nature; it provides all investigation with an assurance that everything will find its mirror and its macrocosmic justification on another and larger scale; it affirms, inversely, that the visible order of the highest spheres will be found reflected in the darkest depths of the earth.

michel foucault, the order of things

i found some of foucault’s textual expressions quite poetic (obviously in translation) but mostly it seemed too convoluted in its reasoning and argument to grasp it fully. i could see how my work colleague found this book a stimulating read, as a collector of things, how someone working in art or education could create new taxonomies, creating new meanings and connections out of collections of things. you can read more about foucault’s concepts here.

however, foucault’s reference to ‘nature’ drew me back into thinking once more about the miniature world of lichens, and also to many years back, when i worked for a while in a herbal dispensary, learning more about various healing plants and their connections to organs and functions of the body. i recall the ‘story’ my boss told me of the plant usnea (a type of hairy lichen, also known as oak moss), how it was once harvested from the rotting skulls of dead soldiers and then used to treat the wounds and infections of the other (alive!) soldiers in the battle field. i am not sure how true this story is although the plant is known for its antibiotic properties. extracts of willow bark reduces pain & inflammation and oak bark is a powerful astringent, suggesting that their ‘nature’ or constitution (such as willows near flowing water) somehow aptly signifies their medicinal benefits.

thinking of weeping willows and oak trees and the history of herbal medicine (many herbal cures & remedies originate from china) draws me back to the non-object through painting again and to the notion of the ‘holistic’. the inter-connectedness of nature feels to be one of one vast, breathing organism, a symbiosis of forms and space, between being and non-being, as he describes:

true resemblance lies in the allusivity to the invisible dimension that permeates the concrete particularity.

françois jullien

the ambiguity that resides between space and form, between the real and the imagined, the perceived and the invisible is difficult to express in art without some outward expression of an object, a physical, lasting presence – which leads me back to materiality of process and the making of art in the physical absence of the ‘thing’ that it represents, and that in time the ‘thing’ will make itself visible again. is this the difference between western reasoning & eastern spiritualism..? that a form need not have to represent (or depict) the original form (a look-a-likeness) to be truthful, but could appear as a re-representation in a new form/space, as an emblem or a symbol for it, or (as i have understood from the book), a ‘transcendence‘ of it. in essence, one need not  ‘picture’ the whole form to ‘see’ it whole.

also fascinating to watch a while back, was the bbc documentary ‘the strange science of decay‘, how slime mould so efficiently & intelligently ‘grows’ and maps out a network in the search for nutrients for its survival, a pattern mirroring modern transport systems – and thinking along similar lines, how certain cells in the body when observed under the microscope function like miniature cities, or how the network of blood vessels mirror the spreading branches of a tree. this is not the stuff of science analogy, it is the stuff of life and the cosmos (but i am not a scientist).

mould seen through a microscope

last summer i took some photographs of grape mould through the lens of a cheap (a child’s) microscope…

mould seen through a microscope

and a couple years ago, while photographing some lichens, i also stopped to gaze at the miniature landscape of mosses growing on a grave. who wouldn’t find such micro-landscapes fascinating to observe?

moss landscape

moss landscape

i was reminded of a more reflective, spiritual path in art earlier this week on hearing about the death of the catalan painter, antoni tàpies. for the media to describe tàpies as an abstract painter (abstract reduced to the expression of a style) rather misses the material complexity and the philosophical, symbolic content so evident in much of his work. i first got to know about tàpies’ work when i was an art student and his work regularly appeared in the high-end galleries of london. around this time, the work of the artist anselm kiefer also started to become more widely known and there are many similarities in their work.

for all the ambiguity of my painting [et amicorum, 1978], i wanted it to express a central theme: it signifies both a symbolic gift to all friends of painting – only they really know that its beauty belongs only to those who love it! – and a homage to my best friends, books…

antoni tàpies [in tàpies, andreas franzke]

lichenscape, a material world in macro

Sunday 19 June 2011

lichenscape I is one of my recent paintings, currently on show in an art exhibition at the harleston gallery, norfolk. here is the painting in situ, above a dark grey marble fireplace in one of the upper galleries…

lichenscape painting by artist jazz green - harleston gallery norfolk 2011

[lichenscape I, harleston gallery, norfolk]

lichenscape lichens abstract painting by jazz green - harleston gallery norfolk july 2011

at the recent preview evening someone saw a similarity in the material surface elements of lichenscape to a scientific image which was published in the guardian newspaper that very same day! (friday) – an image taken by the nasa hubble space telescope of the distant galaxy Centaurus A

‘Resembling looming rain clouds on a stormy day, dark lanes of dust crisscross the giant elliptical galaxy Centaurus A. Hubble’s panchromatic vision, stretching from ultraviolet through near-infrared wavelengths, reveals the vibrant glow of young, blue star clusters and a glimpse into regions normally obscured by the dust.

The warped shape of Centaurus A’s disk of gas and dust is evidence for a past collision and merger with another galaxy. The resulting shockwaves cause hydrogen gas clouds to compress, triggering a firestorm of new star formation. These are visible in the red patches in this Hubble close-up.

At a distance of just over 11 million light-years, Centaurus A contains the closest active galactic nucleus to Earth. The center is home for a supermassive black hole that ejects jets of high-speed gas into space, but neither the supermassive or the jets are visible in this image.’
© NASA 2011

hubble space telescope - centaurus A
Image © NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage

[new stars born into a distant galaxy, and there’s a ‘supermassive’ black hole in there, somewhere]

so, this serendipitous, inter-stellar connection has signalled the opportunity to take a closer look at the cosmic surface of this painting…

lichenscape by jazz green - detail of surface textures of painting

lichenscape by jazz green - detail of surface textures - lichen weathering on walls

lichenscape by jazz green - detail of weathered surface textures

lichenscape by jazz green - detail of surface textures of painting

lichenscape by jazz green - detail of surface textures - decay, lichen on walls

lichenscape by jazz green - detail of surface textures of abstract painting - cosmos, material worlds

lichenscape by jazz green - surface elements - lichen textures on painting

lichenscape by jazz green - surface elements of abstract painting - lichen on walls - material worlds

lichenscape - lichen textures - abstract painting - decay elements

my visual influences are many & varied, including the natural, microscopic and biological world, but equally satellite images of the earth and outer space. the link to a faraway galaxy is perhaps a tenuous one to make for this painting, but when i have observed the intricate patterns of mould, algae or lichens growing on a surface i am always reminded of the visual comparisons and sychronicity between such things, even within a discreetly colonised surface there is a small universe all of its own…

such small surface elements are often discovered in places of structural decay or simple neglect, where nature has (naturally enough) taken precedence over the man-made environment, where the material elements of time & nature are etched deep into surfaces, with a sense of solitude or melancholia quietly pervading the scene. i am also intrigued by how seemingly abandoned places are very much ‘alive’ and ‘active’ and resonate with a hidden history…

thinking back to the expanding universe and the cosmos, also caused me to think again of a painting in the tate modern art collection, cosmos and disaster by david alfaro siqueiros.

david alfaro siqueiros - cosmos and disaster 1936, tate modern london

Cosmos and Disaster (Cosmos y desastre) circa 1936. Duco, Pyroxilin, sand, wood on copper mesh over plywood
© Tate/Estate of David Alfaro Siqueiros

duco is a brand of enamel paint and pyroxilin cellulose car paint. it is a painting in which the use of unconventional materials (at the time) seem to give birth to the image, arising out of the process of painting, and yet the artist must have had some initial concepts in its making beforehand – as if the multitude of personal thoughts and feelings surfaced and directed the outcome of the painting. siqueiros ran experimental painting workshops in new york city at around the time of this painting, and one of his students was jackson pollock.

i think i work in a similar way, having in my mind the essence of a ‘subject’ and the materials & processes to realise it, but the conclusion of the work is arrived at through the material engagement with process. i like to discover or unearth small incidents along the way – but i erase things too. the lower left of lichenscape was later blocked out, but some underlying texture still shows through when light hits the surface.

i should like to tackle this subject again (from mould, decay, lichens), to take it forward into more ambitious, larger scale works (but i would need some money and a much larger studio to pursue this!). it is a subject immersed in the material elements of the environment, but like appearance, metaphor and meaning in art, the narrative is subjective, generative and varied.

sadly, lichenscape II (a more muted grey painting) did not survive my long-term ‘critical eye’ and it now resides in a tray in sixteen very ragged canvas pieces… perhaps something new will materialise out of this random act of destruction?

lichenscape I, abstract painting by artist jazz green - not selected for elements material worlds art exhibition, forum norwich, july 2011
lichenscape I, 2010, mixed media on canvas, 95cm x 95cm

are there any questions..?

lichenscape I is currently on show at the Harleston Gallery norfolk, from 18 June to 11 July 2011

current exhibitions

Reunion Refresh @ Reunion Gallery, 5 Feb – 22 Oct 2011

HWAT exhibition 2011 @ Harleston Gallery, 18 June to 11 July 2011

on artworks and new paintings

Saturday 11 September 2010

the artworks 11th annual exhibition opened to the public at blackthorpe today… i am a new member of this professional group of thirty east anglian artists… and this year the environment and mankind’s impact on it is the linking theme of the exhibition…

here are some snapshot photographs of my new paintings in the artworks exhibition, sadly, only taken with a mobile phone… two large lichenscapes and nine small mouldscapes… note the ancient flinty wall on which they hang…


lichenscape I and II, mixed media on canvas

it doesn’t quite look it, but this section of the barn wall is four metres wide; i had to contend with a power socket smack in the middle… thinking more about this access to electricity perhaps the idea of backlighting might be worth pursuing more rigorously as a creative diversion – that is, my work is seemingly very solid, slab-like and heavy ( a concept i quite like exploring within the relative lightness of a stretched canvas – but i had back in 2006 pursued some ideas around using painted skins. light effects and transparency

the artworks private view was very well attended with much work sold in the first couple of hours…  it was very nice to see some ex-work colleagues but somewhat odd to see the ex-boss there too; i am sure they didn’t recognise me as a past employee… here are three of my small mouldscapes on wood panels, all are 15cm x 15cm x 3cm…


mouldscape II, acrylic & composition gold leaf on wood panel


mouldscape VI, acrylic & composition gold leaf on wood panel


mouldscape IX, acrylic & composition gold leaf on wood panel

a new exhibition with some fresh, new work! although my artistic concerns remain pretty much within the environmental decomposition and decay mould…

i will also be doing a painting demonstration during the exhibition – painting without brushes. i’ll be working on some paintings whilst there and will be available to answer any questions on my painting methods, which includes not using regular brushes to create the myriad textures of rust, corrosion and mould…

if you are in the area, please do go see this exhibition as there is much more to see, all of the artists exhibiting are highly regarded… it would be impossible to mention everybody, (and sorry, no images)…

michael wiggins incredibly detailed pen & ink drawings are a visual delight, with their optical complexities, imaginary scenes reminiscent of mc escher & piranesi…

lynn hutton has created some intriguing free-standing sculptural pieces using light, fused glass and embedded fragments of textiles to allude to identity & memory loss – i was reminded of radiographs and x-rays…

eleonora knowland’s 3d curved canvases reference the lie of the land and the wider curvature of the earth’s surface in the subtle perceptual shifts of colour, light and atmosphere, whether experienced as sculptural paintings or painterly sculptures…

valerie armstrong’s prints are both playful and dream-like, with imaginary figures and scenes lush with vibrant colours and a cultural richness…

the 11th annual artworks exhibition at blackthorpe barns, is open daily. 10am – 5pm, 11 September to 3 October 2010

i also have some unique, one-off collagraph prints in the breaking ground exhibition at the harleston gallery, 28 august to 25 september 2010…

lastly, i have somewhat neglected the little art giveaway with all the preparation work and finishing off of things for the artworks exhibition – it is not forgotten, but the deadline to win three small postcard paintings will now be extended to 1st october 2010 – to be in with a chance of receiving some free art just visit this blog post