Cosmic Latte 1/2 1418

In responding to the themes discussed at the Allenheads Contemporary Arts Open Door residency I have produced an initial run of collagraph prints. At some point, the interesting fact emerged that if you combined all the light wavelengths in the Universe the resultant colour could be described as ‘cosmic latte’ (roughly the colour in the centre of the print). I have brought this observation together with another well regarded theory (J-P Luminet et al. 2003 Nature 425 593) that states that the shape of the Universe is a dodecahedron, one of the Platonic solids. Hence the coffee coloured developmental net of the twelve sided polygon.

The months roll round very quickly! These are the flyers for All Ears in March and April. The March event was probably the busiest yet and was a very enjoyable mix of musical styles – with an increasingly sophisticated range of visuals. This is a link to All Ears website and this is a link to the Spotify playlist for the evening. My set consisted of a series of videos of the saxophone and clarinet player Shabaka Hutchings and these can be seen on YouTube here.


I arrived at Allenheads Contemporary Arts to join a weekend community of artists brought together to consider and discuss the ‘Beyond’. Changing patterns of work have meant that this area of the North Pennines, that once employed thousands of people in the lead mining industry, now feels – if not quite the ‘back of beyond’ – then certainly some distance from the nearest towns. It is this remote setting and the dark skies that accompany it that has encouraged ACA and the local residents to establish a community observatory. This facility with its telescopes, planetarium and local astro-enthusiasts forms the focus for the open door residency. We gather together around warm stoves, amid clear skies, plummeting temperatures and the prospect of snow, to ponder on mythology, metallurgy, the unknown and the unknowable, time-space and the scientific method.

Staying in an unfamiliar place affords opportunities to explore geography, history and the local community, whilst meeting new people and becoming friends brings rewarding conversations and an appreciation of others’ attitudes, ideas and approaches to life. I brought my own interests in architectonic spaces, in surface mapping and the consideration of deep time and took away enthusiasms for meteoric iron, muon’s and the Orion nebula! It will take a little longer to notice the influence on the development of my work but I found the whole experience a rewarding one with plenty of chat, laughter and singing – and I won’t quickly forget the sight of Alan dancing to the B52s or Robert getting to grips with dowsing. Thanks all for a very enjoyable few days.

Photograph taken through the telescope at the North Pennines community observatory.

I was fortunate enough to be selected for the BEYOND open door residency programme organised by Alan Smith and Helen Ratcliffe at Allenheads Contemporary Arts in Northumberland. The project brings together a number of artists who are interested in exploring what might be suggested by ‘the beyond’ whilst exploiting the facilities of the community observatory situated behind the arts centre and in the ‘dark skies’ of the North Pennines. The introductory weekend included demonstrations, talks, discussions and short presentations. Most of the time, however, was spent chatting, laughing (eating & drinking) and discussing all manner of scientific, technical, pagan, mythical and wondrous interpretations of the astronomical. Special thanks to Alan and Helen for a lively and exhausting few days – I shall post a bit more on the manner in which these subjects will impact on my work when I’ve had time to think about it!