“obsession will out” – a view inside the owl art studio installation

obsession will out.

art is exploring impulse. channelling obsession will take your explorations beyond your initial imagination. you have no idea what lies beyond the limit of the known world: Here Be Dragons…

“nesting” is the habit of surrounding oneself with layers and layers and layers of books, artefacts and… ad infinitum…

this is as described by Bruce Robinson, creator of the wonderful film ‘Withnail and I’, in his autobiographical writings: something he does himself: “nesting.”

the owl art studio installation appears to be a manifestation of the concept of infinity: This Will Never End: the Worm Ouroboros…


since childhood i’ve been obsessively lugging home funny things to treasure, to caretake, to stumble over in the middle of the night.

“all that glitters is gold.”

this impulse has only grown with the passing years…
good lord, i look around me… what happened? how in the world did all this end up like this? i feel like an innocent victim.

since childhood reading, i’ve been inspired by the vision of Merlin’s cottage from ‘The Sword in the Stone’; of Mole’s underground burrow in ‘The Wind in the Willows’; as wonderful, enchanting Homes… this is where i want to live.

Mole's underground home
“This was planned, and that was thought out, and how this was got through a windfall from an aunt, and that was a wonderful find and a bargain, and this other thing was bought out of laborious savings and a certain amount of ‘going without’.” – Mole, ‘The Wind in the Willows’

a while ago, a woman visiting owl studio looked carefully around, and, after a long moment’s silence, said,
“this is not clutter, this is a carefully nuanced installation.”
to which i instantly replied, “you will go to Heaven for that remark.”


and by god, i meant it.

my discipline consists of examining the relationship between the elements, specifically within the physical human body: two bones meet, are they doing so in a state of maximum function and harmony?

my training as a physician is in dealing with the interrelationship of elements. the prelude to this capacity was my previous extensive practice and training as a yoga student and teacher: how do things fit together? how do they work?

this serves as a metaphor for this intricate, infinite arrangement of ends and odds that comprise the sculpture within which i live. i am forever perceiving relationships, themes, harmonies and contrasts. that little corner appears to have attracted all the African masks…


everywhere throughout, artwork done by friends past and present: carvings, drawings, paintings; at the end of the bookcase, all of the abalone pendants; the bookcase itself is filled just there with British History, the shelf above with art deco, the shelf below with medieval warfare…


the entire affair has a life of its own; it keeps presenting the next step to me to find what satisfies my inner mind as a proper state of organisation. the fine tuning never ends.

particularly, of course, as i am forever lugging home new treasures. the charity shops of London are an infinite resource; the boot sales, the flea markets, the church jumbles, the…

as long as it doesn’t cost more than just about nothing, it leaps into my hand: take me home. i belong at your place.


then, of course, there are all the myriad treasures i’ve lugged home from my travels around and about the great mysterious globe. this is a souvenir of the markets of Thailand; this i bought 30 years ago in a bazaar in India with brother Matt…
… this was a gift from Auntie Bea; Harold bought this for me; this book i’ve had since i was five years old; Paul gave me this album; Doctor John and Molly gave me this when they moved West.

my autobiography laid out in artefacts.


the resonance is personal: once i go, the charged character falls away, it returns to being an object wrought out of the fabric of the physical world. but for now, it is a talisman of memory.


the contour of the entire installation is defined by the shape of the space itself, in this case, the top floor flat, the upper echelon of the two areas of owl art studio.

ten years now, jaw-dropping amazement, here in the “new” flat… nothing in the world as subjective as the passage of time.


a few shots from a previous incarnation 

“turning 30 is like hitting an oil skid on a motorcycle: you go sliding off into the future” – Flowers John

and after last summer’s remake, allowing the sun and the eye to traverse the interior space without hindrance, there has been a re-styling of the multishelved layout of the owl museum.

“this is a museum!” – how many people have exclaimed when they walk in?


even back at my previous address, which was one room, the landlord Nick called it the museum… (he also called me his second son, which made me proud… a good man, our Nick. survived the Eastern Front of World War Two… )

the flat 3
Stanley Gardens, circa 2003

that was an earlier incarnation of all of this: one room, yes, but it did have a ten foot Victorian ceiling, which allowed expansion upwards. (by the end of eighteen years there, i must say, there was very very little room for further accumulation…)

overall perspective, individual area, a thematic diorama… to fit all of it together into one harmonious ensemble, that is the challenge. and of course, all of this is subordinate to the reality that this is my living space, my art studio: a functioning, creative space, a laboratory, as well as a live-in sculpture.


you think this is a challenge? try it.


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