Notes on a past work / Les Bicknell workshop

The economic crisis in Greece and Cyprus was the mainspring for the collapse of Cyprus Laiki Bank.  The haircut of all deposits over Euro 100.000 of Laiki (also known as the Cyprus Popular Bank) and the final absorption of the bank’s operations by the Bank of Cyprus, have had a major negative impact upon the social/economic system, reflecting the false sense of stability that preceded the crisis in Cyprus.  Newly enacted laws introduced a new era of socio-economic norms in Cyprus through the imposition of very harsh special levies on all property owners, companies and sharp decreases in pensions and public sector salaries.

My Laiki bank credit card, that became invalid on 30th September 2014, is used as a direct reference to economic crisis in Cyprus as the issuing bank’s name is directly linked with the collapse of social/economic system in Cyprus. The card image reflects the unsecured stability that preceded the crisis in Cyprus and its catastrophic consequences that followed. I wished the work to have a direct link to Cyprus as a representation of the effects of the actions by the decision making political parties/politicians/financial bodies had on the majority of the Cypriots. Laiki, which in the eyes of Cypriots seemed solid  but which was actually rotten, was used as a medium representing the overall collapse of society as we knew it up to then.

This work was made specifically for the show It is the political economy, stupid (10th Oct-6th Dec 2014, Limassol, Cyprus). My research and bibliography was mainly focused on media articles, press announcements by Laiki Bank and legislation. The work is made of a plexi-glass box 80x60x20. On the front of the box I printed the Greek flag made out of images of my bank card. This is a reference to the investment in Greek bonds, this being one of the factors leading to the collapse in Cyprus. The number on the card was replaced by the numbers of the newly enacted laws that were passed by the Cyprus Parliament as a result of the crisis.  On the back of the box I printed quotes included in announcements by Laiki Bank aiming to convince customers and potential investors of the bank’s sustainability, eg.: 

The bank caters for individuals, small business and large organizations with services in International banking, foreign exchange and treasury, electronic banking, factoring, finance and leasing, insurance, investment and find management. Its international awards, technological leadership, customer-oriented approach and anthropocentric philosophy make Laiki Bank more than a Bank! (Nicosia, Cyprus, 31st  January, 2013) 

It is noted that the implementation of the Restructuring Plan, which commenced on an operational level in August 2012, is already contributing to the further enhancement of the efficiency and competitiveness of the Bank and with the Bank’s anticipated full recapitalisation, is expected to create conditions for a new era of growth for Laiki Bank Group, that would benefit both the Cyprus Economy and Cyprus as a whole.  (Nicosia, Cyprus, 12th  March 2013)



The History of Art


(artworks:, Cezanne’s Bathers)

Thinking about history of art, to my mind everything is interconnected. Picasso, Matisse and Kandinsky were influenced by Cezanne. Picasso was also influenced by African art and masks. Cezanne was influenced by Rembrandt, Poussin and Delacroix, admiring his use of colour as well as Monet’s. Renoir was also influenced by Delacroix and from his visits to North Africa and orientalistic works like Women of Algeria. Delacroix admired David’s work (although at the time the then media were supporting a rivalry between the two, use of colour vs use of line). Delacroix was influenced by Guerin, Gericault, Rubens and Michelangelo and by English artists like Lawrence. The ancient Roman and Greek art formed the basis for the representation of a flawless body during the Renaissance. So there is a continuous back and forth in time, with several more connections to be made, and although we can identify movements and styles and place them chronologically, the interconnection between them is what I consider being more striking. That is why in my sketches I have avoided a hierarchy or a central point, with the interconnecting lines as references to the influences from one artist to the other, influences from the nature and the human body when considering ancient arts.

Reading: J. Elkins, Stories of Art, Abingdon, Routledge (2002) pp 1-38

Notes on Les Bicknell’s seminar, Mapping the Territory of Research


(Gateway feature, Oxbridge Home Zone, design by Les Bicknell, 2003. Photo: Les Bicknell)

General questions:

  1. How do you know what to do next?
  2. When is it finished?
  3. How do you know?

Models/ways of working

  1. What is it that you do, make a list of things that you do as well as a list with things that you don’t do (Serra verb list)
  2. Finding your relationship to practice/making connections in relation to:
    1. Social
    2. Personal
    3. Historical
    4. Institutional
    5. Political
    6. Critical/theoretical
    7. Geographical
    8. cultural
  3. Observe and collect as a methodology
  4. Reflective practice – be curious of what you are doing – what do you like doing:
    1. Why do you make work?
    2. What do you want from your work
    3. What is your work for?
    4. What is your work about?
    5. Who is the audience?
    6. Where does the work go?
    7. What do you get from your work?
  5. Use of journal for:
    1. Recording (thoughts, ideas)
    2. Reflecting (to gain understanding)
    3. Analysis (to further learning)
    4. Concluding (setting out what you have thought about)
  6. Deciding on what the idea should be:
    1. Looking at what already exists
    2. Looking at the work of others
    3. Reflecting on your initial intention
    4. What is it for, where does it go, who is it for?

Ideation (the process of creating new ideas): define, research, idea, prototype, choose, implementation, learn

7. Practice driven and framed by theory, sometimes consciously and often in retrospect

It is important to get it out of your head, make diagrams or sketches or notes or modeling

How to use these:

  1. Write often
  2. Write down dates and times
  3. Write freely, without hesitation
  4. Write down stuff even if it is not relevant

J.B. Blunk at Blum & Poe, Tokyo

The images and text that follow have been found in an article by Cameron Allan McKean, published on on 12th January 2017 (the page was visited on 16th January 2017). The article refers to the first solo exhibition in Japan of the late Californian craftsman and artist James Blain Blunk (1926–2002).

Pottery is place, folded and fired. It is soil, stone, flora, topography, and climate, massaged by human tradition and technique. In Japan, the placeness of ceramics has been taken to an extreme with local variations in style proliferating across the island nation. This sensitivity to place and materials echoes in the work of the late Californian craftsman and artist James Blain Blunk (1926–2002), whose pottery is on display for the first time in Japan since the 1950s. (

Pieces are arranged in roughly chronological order on waist-high, white wooden tables of the kind that might be used by an apprentice potter for wedging clay. These tables form a “T” shape in the center of the gallery. Hung pieces and other works that don’t fit the rhythm of the ceramics on the tables—including a 1990 series of small mezcal cups with faces—look on from the walls. Together they form an unorthodox array of modernist shapes, raw textures, and splotchy glazes that feels unburdened by tradition. The pieces are wide-ranging in their geographical origin, created between Okayama Prefecture and the home Blunk built in Marin County, Northern California.(

something exciting

Every December, one of the most active foundations in Cyprus supporting persons with special needs, present their annual Christmas celebrations. The foundation provides daycare school, hospitality for persons who have the ability to a certain extent to take care of themselves, as well as job opportunities in collaboration with corporations (eg supermarkets, small factories).

All of the foundation’s students participate in the celebrations. My cousin is one of the students and usually by the time of the first rehearsals I start receiving phone calls. Are you coming to the celebrations? I will sing and dance. Are you coming? Tell your parents to come! Do not forget!! I get these phone calls almost every day, maybe two or three times a day.  And I am sure this applies for all of the foundation’s students. Suddenly this is the most important thing happening in their lives. They set aside everything else that bothers them, or makes them sad and they just live for this moment. And that is what happens with the audience during the celebrations. For a minute I set aside what they go through in their everyday lives. Because apart from of the obvious misfortune of being born with a mental handicap, they also go through the loss of their loved ones, they suffer from cancer themselves, some of them have to live without the support of their families because they have been abandoned. But during the festivities all these are eliminated from my memory as they are eliminated from theirs. Their eagerness to perform to the best of their abilities and their excitement that people came to watch them perform overrides any other negative aspect in their lives. They are so happy when people applaud them and so satisfied when they finish performing, congratulating each other that they have pulled this off.

And this is ongoing. A few days later another event is one the way. My brother is having a dinner party. Are you coming? I will make barbeque. Are you coming? Tell your parents to come! Do not forget!! It is all this excitement that at some stage I wish to research more and if possible create a series of works. Some of the students are employed by a factory producing kitchen sponge clothes and what they do is to separate the finished products based on colour and shape. The idea is to document this process, and may be end up with works where the sponge clothes will be used as the primary medium.

Notes on Exposition and Context, lecture by Caroline Wright

  1. Why do I need to make a career out of what I do? What are my reasons for doing it?What are my needs? (money, recognition, validation, reaction?)
  2. What does my practice constitute? Where am I currently positions? Where would I like to be in several years’ time?
  3. What is a professional context for an artists working today?
  • Museums and galleries. Why do they look as they do? What do they set out? What do they cater for? Education? Entertainment? Edutainment?


  • Mediate art and articrafts mediated from an original context
  • Give those objects a narrative and frame
  • Cater for a particular audience
  • Provide education and entertain
  • Positioned politically and financially/ public, state owned or private
  • Are concerned with appropriation and consumption
  • Examples of Museums
    • National Gallery, London, the building itself makes you feel that art is important
    • Tate Modern, London, connected with commercialism
    • MoMa, New York, a very early addition to the art galleries (est. 1939)
    • Guggenheim, New York, a building which is a piece of art itself
    • Guggenheim, Bilbao
    • Louvre, Paris
    • Musee d’ Orsay, Paris
    • Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts, East Anglia
    • Pitt Rivers M., Oxford, reflects locality and personality of the collector
  • Exhibition Idea
    • Select works:
  1. Negotiate loans 9institutions, private lender, third parties)
  2. Insurance (governmental indemnity, commercial)
  3. Transport
  4. Photography (archive for the future)
    • Publication (text and essays)
    • Realisation (designer, technical, conservational, curatorial, construction installation opening)
    • Marketing, Education and Events
  •  Beyond the Gallery
  1. The body as the site, Oh lover boy, by Franco B
  2. Guerrilla Girls, political art, where does this go, museum, gallery, on the web?
  3. Site specific work, Alison Lapper Pregnant, by Mark Quinn, Fourth Plinth, Trafalgar Square, 2002, debate around disability, motherhood, accepting one another, Earthwork, by Robert Smithson, visible from the air, who is the viewer, what is the artist’s intention, Icicle Star, by Andy Goldsworthy, temporary site specific
  4. Competitions and Prizes, eg. Turner Prize, artists become celebrities, what is success, fame, celebrity, showing work?
  • Why the institutions exist, why they have those collections, what are the viewers’ responses? Link this as to how I wish my work to be seen. What will I need to enable me to work?