All posts by Annie

BEYOND residency

In 2018 I was awarded one of Allenheads Contemporary ArtsBEYOND: Open Doors‘ residencies. Allenheads had recently acquired an astronomical observatory for their site and so the BEYOND artists were responding to the theme of going ‘beyond’ this world.

I arrived at the residency interested in experiencing those periods where no useful observing can take place. Those moments waiting for the clouds to pass, for the Moon change phase, or the Sun to set. Twilight is a time that has particularly captured my attention during my stay at Allenheads and I spent time in the woods alone during this time, experiencing the changing light, sounds and sensations of this period.


During the weekend we were visited by astrophotographer Gary Lintern. His background is in psychology and has an interest in unconscious processing. Our discussion briefly touched on night vision and how to improve it. Gary mentioned a researcher called Nelson Zink, who developed a device for peripheral vision training. This provided an aesthetic, conceptual and experiential starting point for my exploration:

“On the bill of a baseball cap we mounted a metal rod welded to a binder clip, extending about a foot in front of our eyes. On the tip of this rod we glued a small bead of plastic resin about the size of a baby green pea. This created a fixed point on which to focus. We reasoned that with our focused vision on the bead, any physical activity would necessitate the use of peripheral vision.” (Zink, 1991)

I thought I would give it a go.


In order to train your night vision, your eyes need to focus on something straight ahead (an orange ball of epoxy putty in my case), whilst your mind concentrates on all the stuff going on in your peripheral vision. The article claimed that If you persevere through the hours of training you could reach a feeling of ‘zen’ where you would be able to run through a dark forest simply by sensing what’s underfoot.

I walked and walked. I went out again at dusk and walked until dark. I stopped wearing my glasses as this apparently only amplifies the tunnel vision of modern life. I even spent some nights sleeping in the forest overnight, allowing the darkness to engulf me fully.

Behind ACA is a pine forest, due to be felled anytime in the next ten years. Beyond the forest is miles and miles of grouse shooting moorland. There is a sense of tension. Spending time in the forest and up on the moors makes you feel away from civilisation (I walked for nine miles and didn’t see another person). The forest is populated by owls, red squirrels, dear and thousands of rabbits. But there is also the bleak reality that the trees are in neat rows and come the glorious 12th, the area will be swarming with ‘gentlemen’ paying thousands of pounds to shoot on the carefully managed land.

I never did reach this sense of zen the authors spoke of.

Zink, H., Parks, S. (1991) ‘Nightwalking : Exploring the dark with Peripheral Vision’, Whole Earth Review)


Production Rings Pyramiden

The video ‘Production Rings Pyramiden’ was filmed in the dark basement of the swimming pool at an abandoned Russian coal mining town in the Arctic Circle. The only action is the occasional entrance of a vortex ring released from behind the camera, an action borrowed from amateur YouTube science demonstrations.


Testing the Field

In 2016 I received a scholarship from the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching at MMU to run an experiment in interdisciplinary learning in the wild. The project extended some of the ideas from Spectrum, which I devised alongside Dave Griffiths

Testing the Field involved taking a combination of art students and science students on a trip to Middlewood Trust, where they lived off-grid over a long weekend and took part in a series of interdisciplinary experiences and workshops. Anthony Hall led a sensory journey through the woods where we discovered tardigrades in the moss, listened to the environment in new frequencies, searched for micrometeorites and made hydrophones. 





Sam Illingworth led a collaborative poetry writing session and Rachel Kelly delivered a session on Ikebana. 

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Here’s me and Rachel talking about the project for CELT’s Good Practice Exchange with some footage from the weekend:

We also invited filmmaker Tom Lloyd along to document the project. You can watch the film here:


Central Engine Maintenance Performance


Commissioned by Castlefield Gallery for their Miniature World exhibition and re-performed for Kosmica: Ethereal Things, organised by Kosmica and Arts Catalyst. The performance involves the demonstration of my sculpture which attempts to model a black hole accretion disk. It is activated when  a fire extinguisher goes off to produce dry ice which then pours from the orbiting vessel and curves into the spinning fan.

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