Unintentional film stills


Looking back through the images taken from Rome's Eur district I was struck by a sort of half-formed narrative slowly appearing within the shots. The place was deserted, the whites and greys of the buildings adding an unsettling stillness upon the entire area - the only sign of life was the traffic on the wide boulevards, and Italy's small Fiats swerving around roundabouts at speed looked nearly comical in comparison to the towering architecture above. (which, out of habit or disinterest, the drivers ignored.)
These starkly impressive monuments to fascism loom over you like a held-in breath. It creates a cinematic and palpitating atmosphere; there is the sense that this stillness, stagnation, is temporary, a bell will sound
and streams of animated people with surge out of the buildings and populate the avenues - but simultaneously an air of resignation weighs down upon you like the stifling summer heat: a knowledge that it has always been like this, it will always remain like this. 

Michelangelo Antonioni shot L'Eclisse here in 1962. 

The individual becomes what everyone fears around these structures - miniscule, alone, insignificant. Still photographs reflecting the sensation of a place frozen in time, a stranger in a strange land, Chris Marker's La Jetée; Picnic at Hanging Rock. Déja vu, two people in the same place in different times - don't hold your breath here. 

These photographs were taken with no thoughts lingering behind them; but environments will make one act differently, walk differently and impress their presence upon a place in sometimes unnatural ways. Being in the Eur instilled a sort of reverence in me, and deliberateness of manner: every move I made felt slowed down, considered, paced to accommodate the nature of my surroundings. 

You just have to stand there and take it all in - it's not about you anymore. 

From the photo collection 'In Italy', Rome June 2014.

Sundries - sketch

Sketch of cover for proposed publication 'Sundries'.

Described as following:

Sundries by Florence Wild

Various items not important enough to be mentioned individually.
Extras in cricket.

Sundries as an idea came to me from some pieces of advice my father gave me, via facebook chat, after I asked him if it were better to take the path of job as job, or career as lifestyle? Work to pay the bills and devote your free time to your interests, or make your interests into your career? 

The initial reply

“Follow your dreams and be true to yourself.”

-        -  That’s not actually that helpful


But he expanded on this cliché, and I realised that I should listen to my father more often.

yeah it is a hard question. You dont want to feel that you are treading water or sinking in to hole that you cannot climb out of. Exploit all of the things you do to find a direction or added value, like writing about travel for instance - change the creative direction to find a new edge.”


“Even writing about Sweden and publishing in NZ, or the otherway around, just sharing ideas with others and giving with sincerity not just for commercial gain.”

The two main points which struck me were to 'exploit all things you do to find a direction or added value – change the creative direction to find a new edge; sharing ideas with others and giving with sincerity not just for commercial gain. 

One idea for a physical manifestation of all of my different thoughts has been to create ‘environments’ for want of a better word – spaces with furniture, artworks and patterns I have created residing harmoniously together. Sundries is a two-dimensional manifestation of the same concept – juxtaposing texts, photographs and sketches into cohesive thought patterns over a series of pages. 

All of my areas of interest collide at one point – myself – as the generator of these ideas. I strive to create connections and patterns between these separate things. Exploit all of the things you do to find direction. Sundries offers a gateway into my thought process and enables a reader to create their own links through the words and images included. 

A series of essays or short texts primarily on my life in Sweden and thoughts around art. Texts I have written to accompany shows, and pieces from The Tally Ho. Failed proposals.  

How does that sound??


Follow through

2013 has drawn to a close and 2014 has commenced. I spent 10 days in Stockholm where it wasn't snowing and not that cold. This was the warmest December in 50 years, I was told.
I walked around, visited the monument of the Andrée Expedition, the graves of the three Swedes who attempted to reach the North Pole by balloon in 1897.
The monument is a tall concrete sail, depicting the efforts of the party and charting the haphazard journey of the balloon, the three graves facing outwards from this point. It is on a small hill, surrounded by trees on three sides, and I felt a stillness there that I still think about.

Like balloons being controlled by the wind, most things rarely go in straight lines. I think Agent Cooper mentioned that in an episode of Twin Peaks (I added the balloon bit to reiterate the pertinence of this phrase). Though everyone has pretty much uttered that sentence in one form or another at one or more points in their lives. Sayings like that make sense because they are true. An occasional reminder however, never goes amiss.

I have been thinking about following through. Usually when I think about following through, I am thinking about cricket, as that is what bowlers do once the ball has left their hand. As I have now retired from my cricketing career (as of 10 years ago - I decided to quit while I was ahead, I had peaked by 16 I believe) I apply this thought to myself in terms of ideas. I have ideas all the time, sometimes words, sometimes images, written on post-it notes at the library, sketches masking taped to the wall at home by my desks, laboriously scrawled in my journal, mentioned in passing to a friend.

And then nothing really happens.

An idea doesn't get any better the longer you ruminate over it. It isn't a cheese, or whiskey, or wine, or anything else that matures. It doesn't rot, like fruit or eggs. It is more like a loaf bread that gets left out - it just goes stale.

I have been working on a sculpture for over a year now. Knitting fishing line. How I envisage it now is nothing like what I first considered doing with it. The more I work at it, the further the ideas evolve. Today Kjell asked me if it would ever be finished. I said I didn't know. The process knitting the straight line into interconnected loops functions as much as a way for ordering my thoughts as jotting them down or uttering them aloud.

If there is one thing I have learnt through spending over twelve months knitting fishing line in my spare time, it is that I personally do not make much progress in my thought process if I am not working on something. Need to keep the hands busy so the brain ticks over. I have spent 2013 attempting (somewhat in vain) to figure out 'what it is I want to do'. I have not made any great strides forward in that rather vague endeavour. But I believe, as with the knitted fishing line, that if I follow through on ideas which have occurred to me throughout the past year or so, act upon them, then perhaps I will be closer to realising this. 

2014 is the year of the follow through. I'm calling it now.

Making things


I am working on things. The library gets in the way. 9-5 drudgery which drags on as I tell students where the photocopy rooms are and how to return books correctly. I spend time meant to be working doodling ideas on post-it's, which are then ferried home and drawn up on proper paper to I can take a step back and have a look at them. It all feels so insular, isolated though. Perhaps I actually need to verbalise these ideas instead of just writing them down. But these sketches are going to turn into actual physical things: I am going to build my first piece of self designed furniture, print my first fabric design, I have some grandiose plans for something I have named 'The Rocky Road' doorstop. (you'll get it when you see it - it's a pun).

I type this lying in bed with a throat that feels a grazed knee, unable to do a hell of a lot except read books and eat grapes. But it feels good to know that I have a vague idea of what I want to do with my life. I want to make things.

Gaze and Glaze

Ceramic cups and teapots by Isobel Thom as part of the exhibition 'The Berlin Years' with Saskia Leek, shown at the Hamish McKay Gallery 18 October - 10 November.

Sometimes objects are so beautiful their presence overwhelms their functionality. I have always liked to think that I would be the person who would use such things in my everyday life - and thus get the most pleasure out of them, having been incorporated into the drudgery of my routine. Then again, I broke one of my prized glasses with a picture of a vintage car on it, and am still ruing my carefree attitude towards possessions I do actually care about.

The angular shapes of the tea sets and the stackable nature of the cups are so alluring - all those modernist sensibilities captured and executed on a small scale, while imbued with a sort of zen calmness and the practiced movements of the Japanese tea ceremony. The tea pots themselves have an almost Communist feel about them, their shape and twisting lid seemingly reflecting the hammer and sickle.

I am drawn more and more towards art and designs more closely aligned with craft arts - textile crafts such as embroidery and knitting, ceramics, whittling, jewellery, the making of objects. I am at a sort of cross roads in my life at the moment, and I am not sure what I am wanting to do. All I know is that I do not want my career to be 8 hours a day sitting stationary in front of a computer, and I want to do something with my hands. I believe this is why my artworks are delicate, time consuming and hand made. It is a way of combating the pull of the internet - a direct backlash to the power of technology. Crafts seem to defy the claims that everything can be done on a computer.

4 things


4 images that I have been really drawn to of late. Firstly a lovely colour page from my excellent book 'The Lore of Ships' -  the flags make me want to write out mantras to live by in a sort of drape-y semaphore as a hanging soft sculpture. A wonderful knotted sponge-like form, created by Jens Risch, twisting and contorting upon itself in painful confusion. TV series 'Psych' parody Twin Peaks, and include many of the original cast. Here Dana Ashbrook (Bobby Briggs), Sheryl Lee (Laura Palmer) and Lenny Von Dohlen (Harold Smith) discover the body of 'Paula Merrel' "wrapped in plastic". And fourthly, a very large palette with (in hindsight) a rather Audrey-ish looking girl) found in the wonderful image archive that is Old Chum.

patterns within everyday life

Patterns are present in every facet of our daily life, tangible ones and abstract. Patterns can be chaotic or reassuring - a hectic psychedelic kaftan or the simple routine of repeated motions.  I have always held an interest in patterns - how can one not when the are the very building blocks of our lives so to speak. Patterns are like clues - to a life/style, in a detective story. One is always looking out for patterns in a hope of building up the larger picture.

I have long thought about creating patterns myself, patterns that can be multiplied and replicated and printed on material, a thought that has wandered in and out of my consciousness intermittently throughout my teenage and adult years, and something I have tried to integrate into my art practice both conceptually and in more literal forms.
Above is a sculpture I made as part of my graduating installation at Elam. Apart from the sculpture papier machéd in fake marbled Formica, on the floor lies a piece of paper - a pattern I made stamping a letter W across the page, first right way up, then the wrong, creating a sort of diamond/chicken wire pattern, though one that was shaky, riddled with errors, obviously executed by hand. The result (virtually indistinguishable in the poor photo above) was a little similar to Latvian artist Viktor Timofeev's 'WWW', which I stumbled upon by chance on the website PATTERNITY.

It was from seeing the designs of Sonia Delaunay as part of an exhibition at Louisiana about Avant-gard in the early Twentieth Century. The designs we simple and intriguing, her involvement with the Orphism movement clearly influencing her use of colour and circular motifs, as well as using rectangles, forming patterns like parquet floors. And while seeing these patterns manifest themselves as clothing and fabric was beautiful, I was drawn to her original drawing and sketches, watercolour and gauche on paper, the illustration of the first hint of the idea. It all seemed so casually executed, yet with great finesse.

"I have done fifty designs, relationships of colour using pure geometrical forms with rhythm. They were, and remain, colour scales - really a purified version of our concept of painting. (...) The rhythm is based on numbers, for colour can be measured by the number of vibrations. This is a completely new concept, one which opens infinite horizons for painting and may be used by everyone who can feel and understand it."
- Sonia Delaunay

In a time where I feel I am surrounded by art that is grandiose and powerful, large-scaled, minimalist and monochromatic and technical, it is a wonderful feeling when such small, old, basic illustrations of ideas can capture so much of my imagination. And with the hectic pace of the fashion world, and the types of prints fabric and textile designers are creating: digital, luridly coloured, computer generated, to look back on the prints of Delaunay is not such a bad idea.

And maybe this will be something I will continue with, interesting fabric patterns for and from everyday life. My first one (apart from the W netting) is a pattern of boots and noses.