Research Space 12: Julian Woodcock




I have made friends with this space this month. I have driven 
through the low winter sun excited. I clutched chewing jaws of cold 
key-metal. A black door – cleaning in progress – an old factory. I 
always had difficulty unlocking the red door. I sometimes looked 
through the keyhole at my work before entering and looking at the 
whole room. I was able to see all my work collectively from a 
distance. I worked for hours and hours. At times I bloody froze. 
Marek gave me a fleece and food and tea. I energetically worked 
into all my paintings. I ascended, there discovering new processes. I 
slept with my paintings stuck to the insides of my eyelids. The 
wooden floor. That red table. That low chair. I didn’t really look 
through the windows very often. I had new thoughts. I wish I could 
stay longer. Thanks Paul.



The Full Moon Paintings:


In May 2008, I successfully concluded the first stage of writing an earth year of dreams; completing a record of 366 dreams and somewhere near 80,000 words. I measured how much of the book I had written by how far I had travelled around the sun.


Some of the dreams have subsequently been rewritten as songs performed by Moon Bullet. Furthermore, some of this material is currently being remixed by musicians and DJ’s all over the surface of our planet. This is exciting; to imagine, what once played in my brain cinema of night will synthesise into electronica played to heaving dancefloors in California.


The paintings have been started on full-moons; six so far. They are responses to dreams experienced exactly one-year earlier and have been made in locations, relevant to the dreams. People who appeared in the dreams have been invited to the show. I was rather disappointed when the L.A Lakers did not turn up to Cromford Canal in Derbyshire, for the first painting, but I suppose it was raining. The Full moon paintings have been executed within “Sound of Fruit”, an ongoing collaboration between myself and Gareth Jordan (visual artist and musician), who has photographed and filmed each event and presents an accompanying film with sound.


I have painted on plywood because of its source, resilience, durability, sound and smell. There’s no danger of making a hole in it, when aggressively scraping bitumen or varnish across the surface using the sharp edges of old plastic rulers for tools. Initially, I thought of painting on utilitarian mattresses wearing pyjamas but this seemed too much a hybrid between Sarah Lucas and Raymond Briggs – wasn’t sure – so went for cheaper and more functional ply. Tough.


I wanted the paintings to be of a fairly substantial scale and chose the dimensions 33″ x 47″. 33 tells of the relative dimensions of the earth and moon, being the number you get if you multiply 11 x 3. 11:3 = ratio of the earth to the moon. 33; with supposed mystical qualities, supernaturally imbued with good, litters historic religious and spiritual texts as a divine number. I was interested, in doing research, to find that Apollo 11, the first piloted lunar landing mission, where men walked on the moon, had 3 astronauts on board.


It is important to me to use starry feet and inches; Imperial units borrowed from Classical Antiquity and possibly born from the Ancient Egyptians. Inch derives from the Latin uncia, meaning “one twelfth part” – each painting will be one of twelve. Fascinatingly, without wanting to sound too much like Johnny Ball, the measurement and origin of a foot relates to the equatorial circumference of our planet. Take this and divide it by 360 (degrees) divide it by 1000 and then divide it by the number of days in a year (365.25) – This will give you 1 foot. Talking of units of measurement, did you know that a foot contains 33 muscles? I gave some consideration to a picture plane of 33″ x 33″, but was not, at that point, interested in the compositional opportunities offered by a square.


47″ was my choice for the painting length. This is 33 plus a further 11 and plus a further 3 for good measure and also the atomic number of silver. For these reasons it seemed appropriate, pretty and right. I was told that if you ask someone to say a number between 1 and 100, the most common response is 47; the most common random number and therefore not so random. A back has 47 vertebrae and, conveniently, whilst mentioning backs, I get to probably the most practical reason why I chose 33″ x 47″ – the back of my car. These dimensions, as well as relating to the sizes of the earth and moon, celestial bodies and human bodies, fit snugly into the back of a Volkswagon Polo with about an inch all round to spare for framing. Incidentally 33 is the atomic number for arsenic, which romantically, and somewhat thrillingly, makes the paintings a form of poisonous silver.


3 Responses to “Research Space 12: Julian Woodcock”

  1. Roland Clive Woodcock Says:

    I had a dream last night (in fact, I’m sure it was this morning but I’m currently on LA time so that would be about 2pm in Belper I would think) – you were in it,. I’ve forgotten alot of it though the fact that I had such a dream (or dreams) and am still thinking about it now, makes me believe that it holds some significance. Vicious dogs (alsations I think), one was dominant and went for me, but I wasn’t afraid – but then it was a dream so I knew I couldn’t be hurt (once you understand that, you can truely relax and have the most amazing dreams and deal with situations you really couldn’t cope with in real life). I also owned a house in Ditchling (?) where there were a load of small kids knocking the furniture with their toys and being somebody without kids and you somebody with, I had to mention my frustration of this to you (in my dream). There was also some fat bloke that poked a piece of wood through my letterbox so I nicked his glasses and kept them – which he seemed to accept as fair game. Don’t know who the fat bloke was. Can you paint a picture of that?

  2. julian (little brother) Says:



    can i?


    how do u know you couldn’t cope with an alsation in Ditchling in real life?

    was it Jeff Wright?

    sorry jeff/geoff if u are reading – i very much doubt you are. i am sorry if you are fat with glasses and enjoy poking sticks through people’s letterboxes! but i bet you aren’t – sounds like excellent fun though, if you are. here is a dream i had featuring dogs and letterboxes:

    On the council estate, I post mail through an aluminium letterbox. I physically sense the sound made when the paper and my hand graze the surface; a mild déjà vu, layered with a thousand lost memories of the same creak and clatter. An echo from the houses opposite reinforces this soft madness like a barking dog. I am with Sara – we are acting as postmen. The door slowly opens. We go inside the house. The curtains are drawn. There’s a dim light in the rooms. They have a yellowy-brown quality. Light comes in from the outside, through the curtains like it’s early morning, giving the rooms a characteristically warm and latent feel. The carpets, curtains and furniture all seem to be from the 70s. The dwellers must be out. It’s empty. I’m relaxed but also feel a little nervy. I use a spacious room to kick a scrunched up piece of newspaper like a football. I leave. I look at the other houses and then back at the house in which I have just been. I am surprised to see the owner was in and that they are now leaving and about to lock the door. I slowly realise Sarah’s still in there and will be locked in and trapped, so then rush forward and struggle with the owner to keep the door-latch open. They think I might be attacking them but I need to save my friend, so I continue to fight, remembering the time I had to escape from the fascists.
    Imagine how it was…Let me set the scene…I’m in an upstairs room of a large building and I watch John, the man with a moustache, interrogate someone who has double-crossed him and his colleagues. They were trying to pin evidence on him – I then I realised why I was in the room. They were trying to expose the pair of us as anti-fascists. They’re capable of really hurting people you know; really fucking them up. These people are like fucked-up miserable animals. Then, the leader of the group fishes out some receipts and notes from my back pocket. The moustached man reads aloud some of the notes to the others but doesn’t read any of the stuff that I am worried they will see (the things that would make me guilty in their eyes) – but instead, he holds the incriminating evidence up over his shoulder. (I wasn’t sure if this was for me to see or just for the mob). Then, I see an open door and decide to make a run for it. It was my chance to get away. I sped away down the corridor, chased by the one with longish hair. The others followed. I rounded a corner and then I‘m at the top of some shallow but deep wooden stairs. I dive down (a long jump) and land on my side, ‘Ow fuck!’ (I was prepared to break bones to get away)
    I thought I was going to be caught but then, I made a gap between myself and my pursuers.
    I continued to run past some houses and through some back gardens; shaded by trees, where I was more hidden. I looked back and could no longer see anyone following. I decided to hide in a silver-birch tree. I stood inside its trunk and knew I couldn’t be seen. I smelled mould and webs. I had bits in my eyes. It was like wearing the invisibility cloak from a Harry Potter film. My feet were wet. I stood in a puddle or some sort of stream. I wasn’t bothered by this; not if it was to save my life. I could now watch for the mob. They didn’t come. Some young lovers walked by. They walked close but couldn’t see me, even when they were staring straight at me. This must be what fungus feels like.
    When I felt it was safe, I left the protection of the tree. I walked warily out onto the main street. It was King Street. I was talking to a police-constable who was also a DJ. He looked a bit of a hippy and had metal toe-capped work boots on, which were old and tatty – maybe wet too. He was sat down and was telling me to get an emergency mobile phone. If I got one of these, when I was being chased, I could press a button and global-positioning-system would alert the police, and helicopters would arrive. I considered this and was agreeing with him, whilst thinking you are really interested in catching the criminals rather than saving the victims and I could not make my mind up whether this was good or bad.
    After my meeting with the constable, I saw Matthew Scott, who I grew up in my teenage years with. We walked together towards the market square. It was now dusk. Jason and Daniel Relf, also old school acquaintances (and sons of Keith from The Yardbirds), pulled up in a low-rider car, alongside a van, outside the Ritz Cinema. The vehicles were brimming with coolness. The car stood out with its matt-red paint and its sharp triangular form. ‘Rumble’ by Link Wray was playing from inside. The Relfs were coming back from a gig, party or a holiday or something. I didn’t get to speak to them though, as they stayed in their vehicles.
    I was then at the top of King Street heading home with my friend. The sky was darkening. I looked over in the direction of my house and I saw what appeared to be a shooting star. It was making a crackling sound, like a firework. It moved through the sky toward me. As it did this, I remembered I no longer lived at home. This is like waking up and remembering bad news; like learning and experiencing bad shit again for the first time. As if someone has died and you forget in your sleep but the next morning, although you don’t remember when you first open your eyes, it slowly dawns on you – they really are gone forever. My family are somewhere else. Either they have left me or I have left them – I can’t remember which – one day it might come back to me; like the memories sometimes do. The star – yeah – lonely…it then became a plane. It was enormous in the sky – too close to the ground. I said to Mat, ‘Look, I think it might crash!’ At that point, it turned more into the shape of the USS Enterprise but it was greyer – like the colour of lead. Sparks were emanating from the bottom. I wanted it to crash just because that would have been exciting to watch. I couldn’t believe anyone was in it because It moved as if it were a cardboard model on fishing wire – all very 1930s Flash Gordon and the planet Mongo. We questioned whether or not it was a nuclear weapon from Iraq or Afghanistan. I said, ‘We are fucked if it is!’ It curved off through the sky and I realised the world had changed and England had entered into a new apocalyptic era.




  3. Roly Woodcock Says:

    Dream on brother, dream on x.

Leave a Reply

Contemporary Arts Nottingham England