Stillness – An exhibition of new work by Sean Williams, Rita Kaisen, Richard Stott, Helen Stokes, Janie Moore, Iris Harris, and Andy Cropper. At Bloc studios, Sheffield.


This blog site is primarily for promoting my own work, but here is a forthcoming show that I am really looking forward to. I know three of the exhibiting artists and am familiar with their work. I can’t speak for the other four, but Andy Cropper, Rita Kaisen and Sean Williams are all exceptional artists (and you can buy their work).

Interestingly, I do no think of any of these three people I know as particularly “still”, so it will be interesting to see what they come up with.

Sean williams stillness small

“Lies About Nothing”, 2014 Sean Wiliams

Sean’s work is in the “photorealistic” stable, although I don’t know if he would use that word. This image is a painting, not a photograph. Much of the work I’ve seen before is definitely pointillism, but this has a distinct filmic fuzziness. His work is very often of bland scenes such as domestic building sites or neglected corners of suburban landscapes, but the quality of the painting gives them a serene calmness that is at odds with the detailing. I strongly recommend you see them in the flesh.

Rita Kaisen stillness small

A page from “Life”, 2014 Rita Kaisen.

Rita’s work has a number of distinct styles, all excellent including a stylised realism, surrealism and expressionism. But the stand-out work for me is her surrealistic graphic novel style. This image (not in the show) is from a work-in-progress called “Life”, and I wish I could draw like this. I am a major fan of her cross-hatching. It reminds me a little of Ian Miller but not as as obsessive or phantasmagorical.

Screen shot 2015-01-08 at 14.12.03

I’ve written about Andy’s work before and I have a huge respect for his range, from the almost jarringly photorealistic, through bland street scenes that have a tiny touch of the naive, breathtaking portraits and graphic design too. However, he has warned me that the work in this show will be very different.

I don’t know the other four artists or their work, but I will tomorrow.

There is a “private” view (free and open to everyone) on Thursday 9th January 19.00 – 21.00, and the show runs from 10th – 28th January, Wednesday to Saturday, 12.00 – 18.00 at Bloc Projects, 71 Eyre Lane, S1 4RB Sheffield, free entry. (Bloc’s website is a bit out of date on 8/1/14)

Happy New 365 – beginnings, endings and the fear of failure (FOF!)


Lights, Bergen Kunsthall – ©2013 Bryan Ecclsehall

Back in January 2013 I reported on a number of 365 projects that I was aware of. These are those projects where someone does something every day for the whole year. A year later, I think it’s time to review them.

Last year’s post is here.

Andy Cropper’s painting-a-day was by far the most ambitious of them all, and the most insane, and I told him so. Andy is a painter and his work varies in style and content, from sublime traditional subjects to candid street captures that have an almost dystopian blandness to them. I talked to him at length about the project and his approach to his subjects, but some of what he finds fascinating completely escapes me.


‘Good to Go’ – ‘Painting-A-Day’ no.055 – 3rd March 2013 ©Andrew Cropper

That’s no criticism, but it does highlight the futility of trying to analyse his art or compartmentalize it, although there seem to be definite threads.

To my eye, the most successful are the the close-cropped  details, and his painting style produces that contradictory effect of the image seeming to be a photograph and a clearly a painting, simultaneously.


‘Why, Oh Why, Oh Why, Oh Why, Oh Why on Earth Did I Paint This?’ – ‘Painting-A-Day’ no.020 – 25th January 2013 ©Andrew Cropper

I’ve known Andy for about 10 years (I think), and he’s painfully apologetic about his work. I always want to slap him. A little humility is a good thing but too much can be unhelpul. I wish I could paint like that.

Inevitably, he couldn’t keep it up and had to admit defeat. Some of the paintings took 14 hours to complete and all the work is evident on the canvas (MDF).

It can be disheartening to have to give up on a project, but sometimes it’s better to retreat rather than push on until you get stressed as that will only lead you to hate your own work, even if you are making work at such a high level.

I had to postpone one of my own projects, No Glove Lost, because I just couldn’t find enough hours in the day for it, particularly given all the things I need to achieve for Bolam Retrospective. Even though it was not a 365 project, or even a daily project, it stills feels like a failure.

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Anyway, to my mind, by far the most successful of the 365 projects is Bryan Eccleshall’s drawing-a-day. Not only is the quality of drawing excellent, but he managed the project very cannily by making the daily achievement not too great, and not requiring himself to do the drawing on the actual day. What’s more, he hasn’t shied away from challenging subjects and the drawing are not merely sketches, they are finished works.

This is one of my favourites:


Polythene on Floor, Museum Ludwig, Cologne – ©Bryan Eccleshall 2013

Also, the drawings are for sale and there is an exhibition at Bank Street Arts, Bank Street, Sheffield UK from 8th January until 8th February 2014. The drawings are very reasonably priced and I recommend you go to seem them in the flesh.

Cindy Cheung is a designer and this shows in her work. Cindy’s notes were not really works of art in themselves, more of an illuminated manuscript. The task for her was not particularly onerous and she seems to have used it as a bit of continuous promotion for the year.


I must admit to not actually following Norn Iron Girl’s Twitter feed for the year, but looking back at it now, it’s strangely compelling. I think it’s particularly because I was just a few years older in 1981 and remember many of the same things. The most fascinatingly obsessive behaviour of the then 13-year-old is the recording of the weekly listing of Top 20 singles. I remember all of these songs and, like many teenagers, had a similar obsession with pop music although I didn’t documented it as compulsively as she did.


I can’t deny it was tempting to start a new project on 1st January. However, with the launch of Bolam Retrospective looming, I really need to concentrate on that, and particularly the core document of the project, which is the Catalogue publication. I have only finished one issue so far but am planning a series of 12 that will provide a representative reference to my life’s work (so far).

Although it didn’t start that way, this document has become central to the project. Issue two is underway, but I have a lot of research and writing to do before the series is complete. I am planning to publish the remaining issues one per month during the Retrospective year.

Also, I still have Bolam 365 coming up, running from 24th April 2014 to 23rd April 2015, and it will be managed more like Bryan’s project than Andy’s,  although I will not be committing myself to make a piece of work each day. There will be a scheduled blog post every day for that year, including examples of past work as well as other bits and pieces as the retrospective continues. Subscribe here:

(Your name here) 365


‘Gingham’ – Andy Cropper – ‘Painting-A-Day’ no.006 – 6th January 2013

The 365 project idea is nothing new, but the first one I ever paid much attention to is photographer Luke Avery’s Sheffield 365 project in 2011. He roamed around the city taking portraits of people he met. Here is a link to a self-portrait of the man himself, and browse through the blog to see the others.

I have produced many long series of images in the past, and I really like the idea of this kind of project, but I’ve never done anything that requires such a commitment to a timetable.

Tony Kemplen, artist and photographer, started an excellent project back in 2010 called “52 Cameras in 52 Weeks”, where he used a different camera each week and published the results. He is now up to week 157(!), which says something about the tireless motivation of one of the most reliably prolific artists I know.

Bryan Eccleshall is producing a drawing a day, based upon an existing photographic project of details in the periphery of various art galleries and spaces.

Graphic designer and foodie Cindy Cheung (aka missiecindz) is also adding a note a day. Either follow her on Twitter or search for #Cindy365Notes.

Something more easily managed is @NrnIrnGirl1981’s publishing of her 1981 diary entries via Twitter. I don’t know her but I’m guessing she is about the same age as me, and I am looking forward to see how the entries develop from the bland but strangely fascinating reports on her sleep quality and the ambient temperature. Here is the entry for 6th January:

“The Christmas tree was taken down tonight. Christmas really is over. I have all ready for school. E bought me a new ruler and protractor.”

I am hoping we will see this teenager really let herself go, rather like the progression of my own early Facebook status updates, (“Richard is hungry”, “Richard is tired” etc), to inadvisable confessions and unfettered expressions of hatred.

Artist Andy Cropper (above) has initiated the most ambitious of the current 365 projects that I am aware of, and he is producing a 25x25cm painting each day for the year. His work is near photo-realistic and his subjects cover a very wide gamut from the mundane to the sublime, including contemporary and historical portraits.

So, you’re probably asking yourself why this is on my Richard Bolam at 50 blog, and how I am going to use the admirable creativity of these people to turn this post into a piece of grotesque self-promotion? Well, I have my own 365 project coming up for my retrospective year, 24th April 2014 – 23rd April 2015.

In the meantime I will be following and helping to promote other people’s insane 365 commitments. I predict hitting the wall after about eight weeks and then really getting into your stride just as it ends.

Just like the major retrospective, it’s not my idea, but what makes my 365 project unique is me.

Me, me, me.

I haven’t decided exactly what will be on it, but there will be a blog post every day for that year. If you would like to subscribe, please “like” my Bolam 365 blog here:
You will receive an email notification for each new entry, or just check back regularly.

In the meantime, please have a look and share these artists’ work.