Category Archives: Biography

I speak to the dead but I’m insane so it doesn’t count! #spiritualism


The process of death and humanity’s awareness of its own mortality has for millennia been a concern of the world’s religious traditions and the hub of philosophical inquiry. (Am I an existentialist or a spiritual soul?) You can simplify the basic belief structures surrounding death into roughly three convenient boxes.

  1. The belief in resurrection (associated with Abrahamic religions)
  2. Reincarnation or rebirth (associated with Dharmic religions)
  3. Or that consciousness permanently ceases to exist, known as eternal oblivion.

The belief in “eternal oblivion” stems from the hypothesis that the brain creates the mind; therefore, when the brain dies, the mind ceases to exist. This state can be described as “nothingness”. Many people who believe in an eternal oblivion, believe that the concept of an afterlife is scientifically impossible.

Any ways you are fucking DEAD – can I talk to you?!

Spiritualists believe in communicating with the spirits of discarnate humans. They believe that spirit mediums are humans gifted to do this, often through séances. Anyone may become a medium through study and practice. They believe that spirits are capable of growth and perfection, progressing through higher spheres or planes. The afterlife is not a static place, but one in which spirits evolve. The two beliefs—that contact with spirits is possible, and that spirits may lie on a higher plane—lead to a third belief, that spirits can provide knowledge about moral and ethical issues, as well as about God and the afterlife. Thus many members speak of spirit guides—specific spirits, often contacted, relied upon for worldly and spiritual guidance.

You could argue that by turning to the spirit world you are seeking reassurance and answers to life’s problems which are maybe caused through stress, or being afraid your world is falling apart,  or you’re experiencing sudden changes and disruption and you don’t quite know what to do. By subcontracting your responsibility to the dead you have a get out of jail card. Perhaps subconsciously you’ve wanted a solution to an issue but didn’t quite expect things to have turned out as they have. Using a spiritualist medium is an opportunity for a possible new beginning, a revelation or divine intervention. Is this an existential attitude or a sense of disorientation and confusion in the face of an apparently meaningless or absurd world?

My Grandmother was a ‘Spiritualist‘ by conviction – with local businessmen and tradesmen alike knocking on her door for advice and guidance,  her ‘messages’ influenced deals and life changes all around her. The respect she had was far larger than her diminutive size.

I speak to the dead but I’m insane so it doesn’t count!


Original thought = original sin = so fucking sue me, I adore your arse From birth to death, it is the stuff in the middle that is sometimes slightly different. To say we are all unique is strictly not true – love, loneliness, disappointment, illness, parenthood (I love my boys) etc. are things we all experience in someway or another. Yes, it is probably true that I have gone […]

Clifford T WardI wonder how many of my old teachers from my old schools are dead – some were my age when I was at school? I wonder how many of my contemporaries are dead?

The only school teacher I know for sure is dead is Clifford T Ward, he was my English teacher (which explains a lot). He was a singer songwriter who had a ‘chart’ sucess with ‘Gaye‘ – the story was that she was a pupil in my class (she was also a girlfriend of mine). His English lessons were spent writting requests to ‘radio one’ DJs – Tony Blackburn et al. There is a bit more about how CTW influenced me here. He was a nice bloke (but a crap teacher) and his lyrics were sometime silly but then sometimes sentimental or poignant.


Is This My God?

Download this,

Pay for the clicks.

Is this my God,

Is this my savior?

PB (aka TW) 2009

Self Portrait of the Artist

A self portrait is a representation of an artist, drawn, painted, photographed, or sculpted by the artist.

The photograph above was taken with a 35mm Pentax SLR in 1974 and manipulated in the darkroom in Stourbridge College of Art and Design. This reminds me of the simple pleasures I had messing about with making images – it is a shame I have become cynical.

Although self-portraits have been made by artists since the earliest times, it is not until the Early Renaissance in the mid 15th century that artists can be frequently identified depicting themselves as either the main subject, or as important characters in their work.

In many respects the image below follows in the tradition of those early painters – I am seen as a reflection, just visible and confined within the architectural composition, a modern conceit of self importance.

In the famous Arnolfini Portrait (1434) Jan van Eyck is probably one of two figures glimpsed in a mirror. This painting may have inspired Diego Velázquez to depict himself in full view as the painter creating Las Meninas (1656). The placing of a self depiction within a larger composition of the rich, the famous and the kingly is a way of elevating your role from craftsman to celebrity – nothing changes really.

This image was taken in Lanzarote in August 2012 using a Pentax P30, 35mm film camera, which uses manual focus lenses with the K-mount bayonet fitting. The lens used to take this photograph was a Rikenon 1:2 50mm, which was originally off a Richo KR-10 (super). At about 510 grams, the camera is easy to carry and handle and has shutter speeds from 1/1000 of a second to 1 second. The automatic mode on this film camera chooses the best shutter speed and aperture setting, giving the novice photographer a better chance of taking a good photograph. It also has a semi-automatic mode as well, which chooses most of the settings but allows for more creativity. There is also a totally manual setting for the brave.

The film used was Fujicolor C200, a budget-priced film (expire date April 2014) processed by Jessops in Barnstaple. The negatives were scanned using an Ion Pics 2 SD.

Using old film stock in a Pentax P30

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Portland Bill

I love the photograph above of my Grandma and Grandad, it was taken at Portland Bill by my dad in the late 1960s or early 70s.

Portland Bill is a narrow promontory of Portland stone and has three lighthouses which were built to warn shipping about the surrounding strong tidal race and shallow reef.

The most recent lighthouse is the distinctive red and white striped Portland Bill Lighthouse, which was built in 1906 and is 35 metres (115 ft) high. The photograph is taken in front of this beacon.

The Battle of the Somme

During the First World War my grandfather found himself as a cook, responsible for the well being of his comrades. The meager rations that the army supplied needed supplementing by scavenging. Often he went on ‘raiding parties’, sneaking into French farms, pilfering this and that. He once found himself in a Frenchman’s dovecote. This was nearly his final mission. The farmer gave chase and then leveled his loaded rifle at him. He wasn’t really proud of his thieving but as he explained, it was war and his mates were hungry. One of his most poignant tales was about a march to the ‘front’. In the hedgerow Sam spotted a ham bone which had a bit of meat left on it. They got to the frontline and as the history books tell us conditions were appalling and the rations were low. Sam remembered the ham bone, and on the march back retrieved it from the hedge to use in the next stew.

The Battle of the Somme between 1 July and 18 November 1916 took place on either side of the river Somme in France – this was where Sam was wounded and lost an eye. He spotted a German sniper who unfortunately spotted him first. He was wounded and his commanding officer suggested that he remained at his post to give his comrades a better chance to fallback, promising his family a medal for his sacrifice. I’m not sure what he said but he was invalided out of service and was treated at Guys Hospital in London, where they patched him up and cosmetically made a fine job. Apparently this damaged eye was assisted by a rabbit’s nerve.(?)

The Battle of the Somme was one of the largest battles of the war; by the time fighting paused in late autumn 1916, the forces involved had suffered more than 1 million casualties, making it one of the bloodiest military operations ever recorded. Read more

In Memory Of – is it a network art piece?

InMemoryOf – possibly one of the bigest (art?) projects I have ever been involved in…

29THMarch 2000, InMemoryOf sign a strategic alliance deal with the National Association of Funeral Directors (UK). This alliance allows the members of the NAFD easy access to the services of InMemoryOf, allowing their clients to place on-line obituaries and memorials as a part of their funeral packages.Alan Slater, NAFD’s chief executive, said “We are all aware of the tremendous Internet explosion, and the NAFD has been approached by numerous companies offering on-line services relevant to our industry. We were particularly impressed by what Peter and Mark had to offer, because of their empathetic approach to the needs of our members and their clients. We believe they will uphold the high professional standards that the NAFD requires, as well as offering a discreet service that will be beneficial to the bereaved.”

Mary Jane Bright 1902 – 1980

When Mary was in her teens she was aprenticed to a chemist in Sheffield, travelling by train every day from her home.

She was the woman behind the scenes in their grocer’s shop, where they were famous for their home made ‘ice lollies’. People still remember them for their delicious treats, which they made from ‘Tizer’ and other bottles of ‘pop’.

She was a ‘Spiritulist’ by conviction, with local business men and tradesmen alike knocking on her door for advice and guidance, and her ‘messages’ influenced deals and life changes all around her. The respect she had was far larger than her diminutive size. Read more

My old lecture theatre and painting studio – Exeter Art College

The derelict painting studios in Exeter College of Art looked smaller than I remember – these were the spaces where I learnt my painting skills and the place where I was told to forget my painting skills. Those were the days when art was promoted as an intuitive process and not a prescriptive target driven qualification.

On the floor below the studio, directly underneath was the library, now devoid of shelves and books. All that information, inspiration and knowledge gone.

The lecture theatre still had its seating but its projection screen was missing. This was the place where I booed lecturers who spewed bullshit and I think I met Sir Terry Frost (?) – the place where I rediscovered Pollock and was seduced by Rothko, learned about Fox Talbot and watched some ridiculous interview reenactments based on articles published in magazines…

Sarah Bennett used this empty vessel to install ‘Institutional Traits (Series 2)’ which comprised of two large printed photographs of the empty lecture theatre. The lighting in the space was (and always was) simple – controlled by two light switches, one that puts the lights on at the back and one that put them on in the front. The two images mounted on the sides of the theatre reflected the lighting options, one was of the lights on in the front and one  was with the lights on at the back.

‘abandoned along with the art education system that it served’

…to be redeveloped as executive housing (maybe).