2021- The Line, The Arc, and The Circle

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(header photograph by Scott Merrylees)

2021 was another stop-start year, at least to begin with. Many projects that started in 2020 had to be completed before April 2021 whilst others gestated in 2020 and went into full production after April 2021. As with the previous year changing circumstances due to the ongoing pandemic meant that things never went how you originally planned them to. Also, many themes that started in 2020 continued to be explored in 2021, and after promising myself I’d build on the large number of paintings I did in 2020, in 2021 I actually only managed one. Confused? I was.

(As with previous years, this is not a complete list of works created during the year. It’s a snapshot containing some of the more striking images and, once more, I’ve tried to stick to one image a month. Once more I have failed)


A digital rendition on Unity House in Wakefield. Having been forced to adopt digital working as part of the pandemic response I started the year with a rendering of this building. I had been doing a bit of work on Westgate, where this building is located, as part of the Heritage Action Zone project for Edgelands Arts. As this building is too big to photograph (you can’t stand back far enough due to the Theatre which is opposite), a digital rendition was the only option to create a drawing for the project participants to paint. It also reminded me of when I first moved to Wakefield back in 1986. I formed an arts company called Ratatosk, with Paul Higson and Mike Ball. We specialised in creating fire sculptures and we had an office in this very building.


This is the silk painted banner I created for Health Education England and NHS England to promote and celebrate Learning Disability Nursing. The solitary tree in the center of the banner would prove inspirational for work later in the year. I was beginning to realise that it’s okay for projects to overlap and have conversations with each other.



This was a micro commission for Junction, Goole, and IOU. In this piece, I managed to combine my love of maps with wire figures. The piece also references the writings of Jorge Luis Borges and I have David Gilbert to thank for both this link and for helping discover the adventure at the heart of my work.

More information can be found here Line Dancing – smothered.quiet.dragonfly


Westgate Panorama

I finally completed the Westgate Panorama for the Westgate Heritage Action Zone project for Edgelands Arts and Wakefield Council. Each individual building is a silk painting of a building on Westgate painted by people from Wakefield during the winter lockdown. They were scanned and I digitally stitched them together to present a view of both sides of the streets. The south side is the top two rows up to and including the small green shop, the north side is from the small archway onwards.



Wakefield has a viaduct. It’s quite a long viaduct. It starts pretty close to where the railway line crosses Westgate, the street in April’s artwork. This project was a very pleasant diversion and example of using art to document the truth. More information can be found here Viaduct


A Place for Places

I was fortunate enough to have all the paintings from the Wakefield during Covid series exhibited as part of Wakefield Council’s Together and Apart exhibition. For this, I repurposed the stands from the Boundary No Boundary project. I liked the idea of using something from that outward-looking project to be a part of this very inward-looking series of paintings. The circular arrangement became quite a feature during 2021. The paintings from the Wakefield during Covid series can be found here Wakefield during Covid – 19


The Butterfly Effect

The first The Butterfly Effect installation took place in the great setting of Pontefract Library. After a year of planning and experimenting it was a relief to finally see the butterflies in the libraries. Over the summer the installation ran simultaneously in Pontefract, Normanton, Airedale, South Elmsall, and Horbury Libraries. More about the project can be found here The Butterfly Effect

(photograph by David Lindsay)


The Butterfly Effect in South Elmsall Library. Much of the summer was taken up with community projects for Edgelands Arts (with big projects in Portobello and Holmfirth running back to back) whilst The Butterfly Effect quietly got on with its own thing. I was asked by Wakefield Council if it would be possible to combine all 5 installations into one massive display in WX, the former Market Hall, for Wordfest in October. Planning started now.

(photograph by David Lindsay)


The Butterfly Effect in Airedale Library

As the community projects continued without rest throughout August and September I was busy planning The Butterfly Effect’s de-installation from libraries and reinstallation in WX.

(photograph by David Lindsay)


The Butterfly Effect in WX.

1800 butterflies suspended from 125 gently rotating hoops.

I would very much like to thank Wakefield Council for trusting in me with a project of this scale. They were incredibly supportive.

More images here The Butterfly Effect – WX

(photograph by David Lindsay)


Lantern Labyrinth

This was a commission for Edgelands Arts by Wakefield Cathedral. Bev Adams and Charlie Wells, from Edgelands Arts, ran public workshops to create these lanterns, inspired by the stained glass in the Cathedral. I created the Lantern Labyrinth from those lanterns for the November Art Walk. More circles.

Circlesphere lanterns.

I almost managed to stick to the one photograph per month rule, but I had to include these. This was another project for Edgelands Arts. This time I worked with Helen Thomas to create these large lanterns based on shapes for the Circlesphere exhibition at The Art House, Wakefield. They were made during workshops at Lawfield and Sandal Castle Junior schools. This photograph is of the lanterns propped up against a wall after the parade.

Also in November …..

The Circle and the Tree – November 28th

I returned to the Lockdown Lights series as it looked like restrictions might be coming back. I also wanted to return to the solitary tree project that had been running through the Autumn. More on that next year, hopefully. This is another light installation created with Helen Thomas.

This is in Thornes Park, near the amphitheater where I made the Trojan Horse fire sculpture with Paul Higson back in 1991, 30 years ago!

A day after making this installation a friend of Paul’s got in touch to say he was very ill in hospital. Paul passed away later that day.


One final lantern project for the year (I’d delivered over 33 workshops over an 18-day stretch). Although I thought I’d done with lanterns for 2021 I was asked by Muhammed Ayub (Yubi), from Next Generation Youth and Community Project, to help create a lantern event to celebrate Christmas.

I’ve known Yubi for almost 30 years, how could I say no.

Working once more with Helen Thomas, the workshops with young people were delightful and a great way to end the year. As part of the project, Yubi asked me to create a lantern installation to highlight the nearby Home Zone.

This street runs parallel to nearby Clarendon Street when I lived with Paul Higson after I first moved to Wakefield in 1987.

2021 – The Line, The Arc, and The Circle

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