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.


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