Sunday, 13 October 2019

More thoughts on Drawing time

Time has always been central to how we engage with drawing. Whether this is to do with the amount of time it takes to make a drawing, the period of time a drawing is a reflection upon, the difference in how time is perceived in looking at a drawing or how historical time impacts on the way we read drawings from different periods of history.
Recent performative drawing practices have explored duration as being central to an understanding of the making of drawings. Often pushing duration to exhaustive limits, these artists look at how their bodies can cope with the extremes of drawing conditions. For example Katrina Brown's drawings that are choreographed images resulting from her dance centred preoccupation with movement, or as she puts it, 'Drawing as a durational activity that opens up a time-space'.

Unfolding spine: durational performance drawing score
Duration minimum 30 minutes – 90 minutes or longer

This is how Katrina Brown describes her drawing 'Unfolding spine': 
'A performer moves and draws on the ground with her limbs organised around her bowed spinal axis. She works on her knees low to the horizontal surface, breathing and drawing while retreating backwards over the paper sheet. Her eyes resist following the line that she draws whilst still aiming for each line to be parallel to the previous. She co-ordinates breathing line and drawing line –  breath follows line and line follows breath including the turn of breath between in and out. As lining and breathing sync in a real-time working, line is breathed and breath is scored. Lines appear and spread over the surface of the paper on either side of an emerging central track and a kind of flat diagram of the body unfolds. Charcoal as a fragile brittle material punctuates the event and continual rhythmic flow of movement.'
Drawing and breathing are closely connected and in some of my posts on drawing and mindfulness this is reflected upon. Breath is central to an understanding of what it is to be alive, our first breath signifies the moment of arrival into this world and our last breath, the moment that we exit it. We are very aware that the rhythm of our breath is an indicator of the relationship between health and ability to control our breathing. The oldest connection I can point you to is the way that blown drawings were made in Palaeolithic times. Charcoal or another pigment like red clay, was crushed into powder and diluted in water. This was then taken up into the mouth and then blown out as a spray, in a very similar way to how spray painting is done today. Each blown breath becoming a directed spray of spittle mixed watery pigment, its image being in effect a frozen breath.  

Palaeolithic stencilled hand images using blown pigment

These Palaeolithic images bring two durational issues together. They are of course very old,  made approximately 30,000 years ago. They have endured so long that their origins are obscure and their meanings completely open to interpretation, but the very fact that they are so old impresses upon us meanings about what it is to be what we are as a species and it makes us reflect upon what short time spans our lives have. On the other hand these drawings still reveal the freshness of their making. You can see the spray on the wall and connect with the person making these images. In your mind you can 'see' one of your ancestors spitting paint out onto his or her hands. This physical recording of an action can be read as a durational piece very similar to Katrina Brown's drawing, as it records the time taken for a human to interact with some materials in such a way that the activity leaves traces. 

Jordan Mckenzie, in his exhibition ‘Drawing Breath’ made the public on entering the exhibition space, place their hands over his heart. They were meant to feel his breath go in and out. He then filled a small plastic bag with his breath, coated it in charcoal and exploded it in order to leave a trace of this breath on the wall for the duration of the exhibition. 

The durational aspect of drawing was essential to Robert Morris's 'Blind Time Drawings'. Morris sets out the instructions for making one of his drawings like so: 
'‘With eyes closed, graphite on the hands and estimating a lapsed time of 3 minutes, both hands attempt to descend the page with identical touching motions in an effort to keep to an even vertical column of touches." 
I have posted on his drawings in much more detail here. Anyone wishing to develop a drawing practice involving duration should look closely at his drawings and then read his instructions, as they are seminal to an understanding of this area of performance drawing. In particular, by removing the drawer's ability to see what they were doing, (most of these drawings were done in total darkness), he was able to reinforce touch as an essential control mechanism in the making of drawings. Time is also very subjective, therefore Morris introduces several ways of thinking about how to measure the duration of actions. For instance by counting. By having a certain number of actions to undertake, the drawing has to be done over an extended amount of time. Also by extension, by having to cover a certain amount of the paper surface, again the drawer is forced to extend the time period in order to achieve the task. 

Robert Morris: Blind time XIII 1973

Frank Auerbach

A Frank Auerbach drawing gives us a slightly different insight into drawing and time. This drawing is as much about the long hours of looking at the subject, as about the long hours of making marks and erasing them. The drawing has been erased so many times that it is beginning to fall apart, new sections of paper being added in when the older paper is no longer workable. Just like the Brown and Morris drawings you can see a lot of time has gone into the making of the image, but in this case erasure has covered up previous decisions so it is much harder to ascertain exactly how long this drawing took. But the drawing is also about how to hold on to fleeting perceptions. It is as if Auerbach thinks that if he persists for long enough he will be finally able to capture the un-capturable. Our eyes scan over things, they don't settle on one image, the image we think we see is a product of our mental processing of these fleeting perceptions. Auerbach sets out to see if an image on paper can in effect be arrived at in the same way that our cognitive processes arrive at one. What takes a few thousandths of a second of mental processing is though now taking hour after hour, an exhausting exercise in fruitily, which paradoxically begins to work as it communicates to us about the search for something that is impossible to find. How we as humans deal with this attention to the phenomena of experience is something that many philosophers have engaged with; 'phenomenology' and 'embodied knowledge' being areas of thinking that have made us very aware of how important our physical nature is. 
If you are interested in these issues a good start would be to read Merleau-Ponty's essay 'Cezanne's Doubt'. 

Cezanne remains central to our understanding of the process of making an image from observation, if only because he was so stubborn and awkward in his nature, and in that particularity of character became a stereotype of the artist struggling to visualise what it is to actually 'see' anything. He is the anti-photographer, the opposite of the quick win and the instigator of 'the hard won image' school. He was the man who dragged out time and embedded it back into his work. 

William Coldstream

William Coldstream taught a certain approach to drawing at the Slade for many years. This method involved searching for points of measurement across the surface and as you did so your search was recorded by a growing grid like structure of points and lines that both contained the image and became part of it. It was as if the clock ticked very slowly, these images feel as if the air was sucked out of the room as the artist held his breath for that moment of exactness. Cezanne's wavering lines becoming converted into something more controlling, more organised and disciplined. I sometimes think of Coldstream's influence as being military like, his drawings and paintings freezing time, as if we could capture it in a tin. 
This approach to drawing was at one time heavily criticised. I have reflected on what was called at the time, 'Giron and fesspoint drawing' or post-coldstream drawing when thinking about past approaches to drawing here at Leeds College of Art; it was argued back then that Coldstream forgot to breathe when he drew and that the 'giron and fess point'  method allowed for the movement of the body to be reinserted into the process. In this case 'rhythm' being seen as essential to an understanding of time when reading a static image. 

When you look at a drawing you see it all at once. (Of course there are huge drawings that are too big for you to do this but most drawings are human sized) The simultaneity of experiencing a drawing is part of the specific nature of it as an art form. Many art forms are durational, like music, dance or theatre, therefore they tend to often have narratives attached to them. However the simultaneity of a drawing's perception privileges experience over narrative. This heightens a particular type of awareness of time. It is also of course why we can walk through an art gallery in 5 minutes, glancing at each image as we pass and like a tourist at the Louvre being happy to simply have 'been there'. 
More than one thing is going on at once here and your mind can flit between them. The first is the awareness of one thing being done after another. It is easy to see this if marks are laid on top of each other. You can unpick their order and as you do so, in many ways you are reading the drawing in a similar way to a musician reading a music score. This approach sits theoretically much more easily into the phenomenological or embodied drawing terrain and is closely linked to concepts such as drawings as 'traces' of actions, or recordings of encounters.
However the graphic mark can also be thought about in other ways. As an 'inscription' for instance, whereby it is seen as a type of visual expression of a thought. For example we have all looked at the way handwriting differs and it is very easy to slip into ways of interpreting this as being a reflection of the character of the writer, hence the discipline we now call graphology.

Eugen Peter Schwiedland: The Graphometer 

In Schwiedlnd's case it was the angle of handwriting that was the most expressive aspect of the marks made, we have all looked at 'cramped' handwriting and thought that this might reflect something of the character of its maker. This graphic trace when transferred to art making was in French art criticism called 'La Patte' or the artist's signature style. The artist's touch or personal style being something that still resonates through certain corridors of the art world, as the search for the unique individual on which to invest money continues. This aspect of the artist's mark is embedded into the rhythm of an image and it is within this visual rhythm that another type of time is revealed. 

This is one linked to our own inner clock, our heartbeat. We intuitively understand the link between physical exertion and our heartbeat. The faster our heart beats the more exertion we have been involved in and therefore as we recognise a fast scribble of a signature as opposed to a carefully and slowly written one, we link into the recognition the excitement associated with fast movement, the flight or flee moment, as opposed to the calmness of contemplation. These changes in awareness are associated with changes in rhythm, the changes in rhythm eventually becoming associated with meanings. It is easy to see how this works in music, a military beat being very different to the rhythm of a dance tune, or the slow beat of a funeral march. But as more refinement is added, such as 'tone' a much more sophisticated set of associations can be constructed. The best example being Christian Schubart's 'Ideen zu einer Aesthetik der Tonkunst'. For example:

B flat major: Cheerful love, clear conscience, hope aspiration for a better world. 

B flat minor: A quaint creature, often dressed in the garment of night. It is somewhat surly and very seldom takes on a pleasant countenance. Mocking God and the world; discontented with itself and with everything; preparation for suicide sounds in this key. 
B: Strongly coloured, announcing wild passions, composed from the most glaring coulors. Anger, rage, jealousy, fury, despair and every burden of the heart lies in its sphere. 
B minor: This is as it were the key of patience, of calm awaiting ones's fate and of submission to divine dispensation.

The communication of excitement via speed of rhythm now being conjoined by mood changes depending on tonality. In a drawing the speed of execution of a mark, being conjoined with other qualities such as changes in pressure, direction, types of materials used etc. will all  be used in the reading of 'time'. In this case 'time' no longer being simply to do with awareness of duration but also an awareness of 'feeling tone'. This is also what is read in the simultaneity of experiencing a drawing. In this case we can begin to read a drawing in other ways, one as a type of cardiograph, whereby we can read something about the condition of the maker from the marks and another to do with a more formalist approach.  

Mark Toby

This is how on one web-site we are told to approach abstract art:

'Rather than trying to figure out what the painting looks like, just allow yourself to be taken in by the painting. See what emotions, sensations or memories emerge. Let your eyes relax and travel around the piece without expectation. Examine the colors, forms, materials, surface, and how they interact with each other. Take your time. Let the painting "speak" to you.
Notice how the various elements like shape, color and form affect you. An intricately detailed, vibrant painting will affect you differently than a calm, cool Malevich.' The writer believes that aabstract painting is something that will 'speak to you', emotions and sensations will also emerge alongside memories. This points to a different experience of time, one about getting lost in looking at the painting. You are meant to travel around the image, follow the movements indicated by form and shape, as if you are moving around some sort of map. You are asked to enter the image as if it was some sort of window through which you could travel in order to begin exploring new unfamiliar landscapes. A fascinating idea and one that would have appalled Clement Greenberg, who argued that one of the values of abstract painting was that it removed the tendency of people to regard paintings as 'windows onto the world'. I suspect what we are looking at here is the time of the daydream or of the reverie, a time where we are not being pressured to make immediate actions. But what happens to time in a photorealist drawing as there are no clues as to how it is made? A conceptual puzzle as to 'how was it done?', fills the mental space where we would normally be looking for a way into a thoughtful recreation of the image by following traces of the artist's hand. 

John Baeder White Tower 1974 Graphite

A photorealist drawing or painting like the one above is in fact a very conceptual work. First of all you have to know that the image is made from a photograph. If you think about it, it is pretty obvious that it is, but some people are fooled by appearances and think that it could be possible to create an image like this directly from nature. What they have done is begun to think that we see like a photographic image, because most of the images reproduced in our society are from photographs. Our probing eyes are constantly looking for information, so everything is moving in and out of focus, but there is a certain link between how we see and how images like this are made. A common method of developing a photorealist image was using a grid placed over the image to be copied and another one over the paper or canvas on which the image was to be reproduced. This allowed for the artist to focus on the details of tonal or colour change, without getting distracted by what it was that they were actually drawing. This in may ways brought the world back into a pre-linguistic state, a state whereby we see changes in tonality or colour rather than dogs, cats, trees, humans or other things. We had to be taught how to recognise objects out of the flux of experience and the techniques of gridding and turning the image upside down, often used by photorealist artists are to ensure that no trace of 'knowledge' enters the image. Because of this I find this sort of image outside time, or 'timeless', it's 'experience' is restricted to copying the surface of an already existing image, therefore the experience is very 'thin' and the image often finds itself being a place where our restless minds can fill its emptiness with narrative meaning. For instance think about how easily we invent a narrative to explain what we think is going on in old photographs. 

Some of Terry Hammill's drawings of 'Klocks' 

The clock can itself become a subject. In Terry Hammill's drawings time division extends on past the circular clock face and becomes a regular rhythmic divide that suggests that clocks, (Klocks) tick away in alternative formats as they enter the logic of two dimensional space. Like the shapes in Abbot's 'Flatland', these 'klocks' live rich lives dependent on an internal logic that makes perfect sense to a flatlander, but perhaps not to a fifth dimensional time traveller. 

Hanne Darboven's subject matter was often the passage of time. Sometimes she wrote the date over and over again. It's was if she wanted to trap time in the way she used numerals to indicate it. All numerals indicate time in one way or another, from the old childhood game of hide and seek, whereby we count to ten before we start looking, the counting in some way entangling time, so that we don't get to begin looking too quickly, to ideas such as infinity, whereby the implication of a set of numbers is that we could go on generating a sequence for ever. 

Hanne Darboven

I sometimes think of Hanne Darboven's drawings as 'time traps'. You can get stuck in the intricacies of her numerical thinking, especially in her tendency to valorise repetition. Like alien calendars her images appear to make sense but the longer you work with them the more you realise her logic is not as easy to follow as you might think. The time spent trying to understand her drawings being an integral part of the experience. 

Most of the recent exhibitions I have seen whereby drawing and time have been interlocked have been performative, therefore I'll leave you with a performance drawing. 

Am Rand: drawing performance by Jaanika Peerna in Berlin


Friday, 4 October 2019

Collage part five: Gordon Cheung

Gordon Cheung in his studio

We have looked at collage several times before as a way of drawing directly with the world itself. Collage materials are wonderful in that they bring into your work all the associations and stories linked to their previous life. 
Gordon Cheung uses collage in such a way that as well as bringing in those associations he uses collage as a bridge between drawing and painting.


The image of the tulip above is typical of Chung's use of collage as a support for his painting. The background is made up of sections of the Financial Times stock exchange lists and its pink is a colour that has long been associated with the newspaper. In 1893, The Financial Times, began printing its articles on light salmon pink paper, which was meant to distinguish the paper from its rival the Financial and Mining News. Of course it was also cheaper to print on unbleached, slightly pink paper at the time. This decision would turn out to be the most significant branding step the company would ever take. The Financial Times is still pink to this day, and its colouring has become its distinguishing factor. Over the years, it has intensified its pink as the company’s brand has become increasingly synonymous with the colour. Chung has been using Financial Times listings for the support of his images for some time now and just as the pink of the newspaper became a recognisable brand, the use of the Financial Times in his backgrounds has now become a brand for Chung. 
His work reflects on the power of money to drive the art market and many of his images also comment on the role of investments in world affairs, therefore the fact that he has developed a brand or trademark look is a vital part of his conceptual remit. 
At one time the tulip was central to an economic boom in the Netherlands. 

This tulip above, known as "the Viceroy" comes from the 1637 Dutch catalog Verzameling van een Meenigte Tulipaanen. A bulb of this tulip would have cost between 3,000 and 4,200 florins, which was about ten times the average yearly wage of a skilled craftsman. Tulipmania, was what the boom and bust financial climate at the time is now called, thousands lost all their money by investing in this trade, a situation that has occurred several times in the history of the stock exchange. Chung by bringing together his painting of the tulip with the stock exchange lists, reminds us of the fragile nature of monetary value.

Top 10 Dead Celebrities Still Earning, No 8. Andy Warhol

Many of Chung's other subjects reflect the interrelationship of money, investment and art, his series of images, 'Top 10 Dead Celebrities Still Earning', a reflection on the fact that when famous artists die, their wealth often increases and value is as tied to the blue chip investment houses as to any form of cultural capital. 

On top of his collaged surfaces Cheung often uses spray paint together with oil paint, both these mediums again carrying with them meanings associated with their various histories. Spray paint was an industrial finish but is now much more associated with graffiti, the 'paint of the streets'. Spray paint is the low art medium, whilst oil paint is the high art medium being the medium of choice for all those aspiring painters that wish to enter the pantheon of art saints. Therefore when Chung uses spray paint to create a 'halo' around Warhol's head he is conjoining several different concepts. One being the central position of religious painting within Western art and its status of being an activity practiced by the first artists to become famous as art heroes, as in Vasari's 'Lives of the Artists'. In this case it could be argued that in Cheung's image, Warhol becomes an art saint. The other being an awareness of all those anonymous graffiti artists that work on street walls in every Western city; spray paint is their medium of choice and although 'tagging' is about having a street 'signature', for most people these street artists are nobodies. Before Vasari artists tended to be anonymous and in many other cultures artists never achieved the status of cultural superstars as they did within western culture and therefore also remained anonymous. Finally the bright streaks of oil paint and accompanying drips, reference the honorific value that oil paint has as a signifier of 'proper art'.  One of the reasons collectors are drawn to Cheung's work is that it still has the cachet of oil painting, which has traditionally been the most bankable or  ideal investment.
The key issue here is how the various associations with each medium combine to make a complex interrelated set of ways to approach Cheung's work. Collage materials will always carry with them a past history, but we often forget that so do all the other materials that we use to make art, such as those that seem 'normal' or 'the right' materials to use, especially those that you can traditionally buy on a visit to an art suppliers. 

Gordon Cheung: Machine Dreams Jerwood Drawing Prize 2004

See also:


Sunday, 29 September 2019

The evolution of an idea

I have a piece of work in an exhibition in Halifax at the moment. The exhibition, Temporal Terrains: an exhibition on wheels - is a Yorkshire Sculptors Group exhibition at Dean Clough  and it lasts from 7 Sept to 6 Oct 2019 and like (im)Material Disarray is another fringe exhibition linked to the Yorkshire Sculpture International 2019 festival. The piece is a complex one and I thought it might be interesting to look at how it evolved because I rarely show anyone the scrappy little drawings I do to work my way around a problem, but in many ways without them an idea would never get to fruition. 

This is the piece I have in the exhibition. 

‘How to move a plant in flower’  Garry Barker: A sculpture in three parts: 2019
Ceramic with metal, textile and wooden additions. 

This was the short text written for the exhibition:
Plants are supposed to be fixed to the soil, but in a post-truth age where nothing is as it was or as it ought to be, the distinction between plants and animals begins to break down. Therefore plants will move and as they do they will take on the characteristics of animals.  A selection of a small group of hybrid creatures that totter on the brink of self-discovery, as they ask themselves, “are we animal, vegetable or mineral?”

I belong to the Yorkshire Sculpture Group and they often set particular challenges to group members; challenges designed to ensure we don't get too complacent in our approaches to art making. I enjoy these responses but don't engage with all of them because I also need to keep focused on the issues I'm mainly concerned with, but this particular challenge did intrigue me.  

In particular I had been reading and thinking a lot about how as humans we have privileged ourselves in such a way that other things were ignored or simply seen as resources for humans to use. I had therefore set myself a task to try and make work that in different ways gave agency to non-human things. Such as allowing materials to work in dialogue with myself and trying not to force them to do my bidding, or to use recycling more (as in the (im)Material Disarray work), or to open my conversations out to include non-humans and to try and act as if my role as an artist was more like a conduit between things, or someone that revealed the interconnectedness between everything. Because sculptures had to be on wheels for this exhibition I thought this an ideal opportunity to test out some ideas related to the removing of distinctions between animal, vegetable and mineral categorisations. 

These are some studio shots taken when the sculpture was nearing completion. 

Flower heads develop animal tongues

A fleshy ceramic (mineral) flower emerges from a wooden branch

There is nearly always some book research that bears fruition in terms of ideas development and in this case it was an image I came across in a Medieval book of herbal remedies. The way the roots were drawn looked to me as if they were turning into bear's claws and it reinforced the concept of plants and animals being both things that moved. It is just that they have different time frames. 

Nightshade from a Medieval book of herbal remedies

I had already been making ceramic plants for an exhibition in Patching in Nottingham and had devised a system of stems made from ceramic exteriors with steel rod centres. I had made lots of these as test pieces so I could continue to play with them and see if there were other possibilities. 
This was where drawing came back in. 

Ideas for bases

 The 'flower' sculptures for Patching had rods that went straight down into the ground, a solution that would be impractical for what I needed, so I began to think about other forms and how these could perhaps sit on a flat base and be screwed into place. 

Ideas for 'bone stems'

As I was thinking about the way stems fitted bases I realised that if a plant was to become an animal its stems would have to be more like bones, so I began to look at the green stems becoming white. 

First animal head ideas

The stems needed flowers and the first ideas were simple animal head flowers, which as you can see were far too uninventive and a poor fit. 

As always when stuck for an idea I tend to return to objective drawing and feed my ideas with what nature invents. 

Plant heads drawn from life

There is something already animal like in plant heads (the fact we call them flower-heads indicates the connection). 
Bird flower

The bird head idea was then morphed with the flower drawing, it was better but still not right. 

I then returned to thinking about bases again. 

Rabbit base

Ungainly and too much like rabbit, but it was a germ of an idea. I liked the feet if nothing else.

A badly remembered Renaissance idea

The next drawing tried to morph several ideas of animal forms together and was based on something I had seen before. 

Simplified version of above

Ceramic version of the drawing above, mounted on a wooden base with wheels attached. 

In a simplified form it worked much better, but was now a bit boring, so I persisted. 

Slug base

The slug base

It seemed to me that the slug was a creature between animal and plant forms, (remember I'm an artist and can just decide on any form an invented life might take) I now had several ideas I could take into making and so I made about six or seven variations of these bases and began to test them out in the studio. But I soon came up with a problem and this was how to get everything moveable.

Idea for a cabinet in wheels

The first idea was to deconstruct an old piece of furniture and put all of my ceramic ideas into it, cutting holes for the plants to grow through. I went so far as to make the cabinet by reconfiguring a piece of furniture I took from my bedroom, but it just didn't work. However one of the heads I had come up with interested me and you can see its form in the final piece. I decided to use the idea of cutting holes through things in another exhibition, yet to be realised but coming up in October. 

I had been out walking and brought home with me some branches from a tree that had been recently cut down. There was something about the way the branching worked that gave me a clue how to embed the interconnection into the base construction. 

Thoughts about branches on wheels

I began to see in my head an idea of wheels being attached to the branches and then I could perhaps put rods into them to 'grow' the stems directly upwards as if they were simply further 'growths'. 

But this was far too unstable, and I added an extra branch.

My attention begins to return to bases that can then be attached to wood

Final idea of wooden bases with wheels attached, screwed into the branches.

Eventually with lots of trial and error I made wooden bases for the ceramic bases and then attached the wheels directly to these, rather than to the branches. 

However it was this sketchbook drawing below of a related idea that really helped the concept come to fruition. A ghost of a human confronts a bird and a plant, in a scene that could be from anywhere.

Animal and vegetable actors playing out a scene

I have missed out lots of other drawings of plants with tongues and other bases but hopefully you get the idea of how I use drawing to think through an idea. The textile hanging from the head of the 'Jar Jar Binks' type creature was printed by Spoonflower a company I have used for a lot of my textile designs. 

Design for headscarf

I had made several drawings of men attempting to climb ladders and these were based on ideas coming from reading about Raymond Lull and the ladders of his art. In these minerals are on the bottom rung and God at the top. Humans are above plants and animals, but not quite at the level of angels. My idea was to have a human endlessly trying to climb upwards but getting nowhere. We are at a quantum scale at the same level as minerals, animals and plants and that is something to be celebrated rather than dismissed. The work was about the interconnectedness of everything and so was meant to appear complex. 

So what looks like a pretty confusing mess of a sculpture, (well it does when you photograph it), does have quite a lot of thinking behind it. This is perhaps my greatest problem, I don't think through the lens. This is because I'm someone trained to draw rather than work from photographs and also I forget to try the ideas out as potential photographic images. I still spend a lot of time walking around my sculptures as we were told to do as students. As I do so I try to look for those awkward areas which just don't seem to allow the eye to move on and connect with something else. I strongly believe that the best sculptures make you want to walk around them. 


Nightshade from a Medieval book of herbal remedies is from Plant Series, No. 1. Manuscript MS408. Portfolio 2 by Gerard E. Cheshire

The 'Jar Jar Binks' Star Wars character first appeared in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. I wasn't thinking of it, but once the head was made lots of people began remarking on how similar the creature with the textile hanging from its head was to the Star Wars character. I quite liked this, it seemed to connect me to all those other artists that have tried to invent creatures by mixing various animal and plant forms. 

First version of the 'Binks' head

All those early years of reading comic books has something to do with how my imagination works too. The character 'Metamorpho' able to take on the characteristics of any mineral element being a particularly memorable well of ideas. 

For my early thoughts about interconnected 'hyper-objects' see this post.