.        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .

  • They Regard Us As We Regard Them       .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .

    They Regard Us As We Regard Them – Plus-One, Antwerp, Oct. 2021.    
  • The botanist Francis Hallé observes that, ‘plants elaborate themselves according to strict rules, rules that lead to the conceptualisation of models’. The dynamics of these models and their further implications are investigated in Nicholas William Johnson’s new paintings. In his works these rules are altered – flowers bloom in digital arrays, fruits and leaves are suspended in double helices. Johnson renders plants – other lifeforms – as dynamic, interactive systems, examining our often-unquestioned belief in the passivity of nature. Repetition of botanical forms in futuristic digital arrays confers the idea that they constitute systems of information. Plants and trees are systems that reiterate, recursive nestings of individual elements, to form an interconnected colonial system.

    As part of this new body of work Johnson has produced a short film on Super 8 adapted from James Lovelock’s last book Novacene. In the truest sense of the term Lovelock has written a science-fiction that proposes humans will create a hyper intelligence that will design itself as a self-reproducing networked atmosphere of electronic life. Lovelock proposes that this ‘system’ will work in concert with humans to restore ecological balance to the planet. This vastly superior intelligence will exist on a temporal plane of awareness very different from our own. It will come to regard us as we regard plants, life existing on a much slower temporal and earlier evolutionary scale. Just as plants are also aware of us and other animal life and interact with it – contemporary science is beginning to articulate how – in turn we will be aware of this hyper-intelligence and interact with it. Johnson’s film explores the idea that we may only come to fully understand nature and ecology through the creation of networked technologies, an anachronistic futurism. Other life through a post-anthropocentric lens, is not individualistic but vast, lively, complex networks of interconnected and recursive points of awareness.

    Further ideas in Johnson’s film that this electronic life can manipulate DNA, or that genomes are saved and re-printed in altered forms for example, are adapted from Octavia Butler’s novel Dawn. A similar science-fiction narrative underpins Johnson’s paintings, plants whose code and patterns of self-replication have been altered, pose the question what is life and awareness if it is different from what we know and accept to be ‘correct’.

    We must consider other forms of life and renew our vision of life. Consciousness, perception, awareness, do not begin and end with human perceptual mechanics. Other forms exist. Ecological crisis has motivated a turn in critical thinking, a non-human turn. The sublime hyperobjects articulated by Timothy Morton are systems and networks so large they evade total comprehension. Michael Marder’s phenomenological framework of plant intelligence. Jane Bennet says, ‘the nonhuman turn can be understood as a continuation of earlier attempts to depict a world populated, not by active subjects and passive objects but by lively and essentially interactive materials, by bodies human and nonhuman’.

    For his film, Johnson has commissioned new music from the experimental Belgian band Razen, who have produced an extra track to their 2020 release Robot Brujo that soundtracks the film.

    Datura Array. Oil and acrylic watercolour on canvas. 175 x 125 cm. 2021.
    Heavenly Blues. Oil and acrylic watercolour on canvas. 80 x 65 cm. 2021.
    Brugmansia Array. Acrylic watercolour on canvas. 175 x 125 cm. 2020.
    Night Fruits. Acrylic watercolour on canvas. 80 x 65 cm. 2020.
    Nymphaeaceae Array. Oil on canvas. 175 x 125 cm. 2021.
    Epiphyte Canopy Community. Oil and acrylic watercolour on canvas. 175 x 125 cm. 2021.
    Entity (Henbane). Acrylic watercolour on canvas. 80 x 65 cm. 2021.

  • Plant Communication Network       .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .

    Plant Communication Network – Peter von Kant, London, 2018    
  • Plant Communication Network (Sunspilt V). 2018. 145 x 180. Acrylic, pigment, fabric on canvas.
    Endogenous Harmonics. 2018. 80 x 65. Acrylic, pigment, fabric on canvas.
    Caterpillarage. 2018. 145 x 180. Acrylic, pigment, fabric on canvas.
    Caterpillarage. Detail.
    Tenuous Flora. 2018. 80 x 65. Acrylic, pigment, fabric on canvas.
    Another Angel's Trumpet II. 2018. 80 x 65. Acrylic, pigment, fabric on canvas.
  • Inns of Molten Blue.        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .     

    Inns of Molten Blue – Antwerp, 2017    
  • Limblessness. 2017. (Acrylic, pigment, fabric on canvas. 145 x 180 cm).
    Feathery Oar Blades. 2017. (Acrylic, pigment, fabric on canvas. 80 x 65 cm).
    Lotuseater. 2017. (Acrylic and pigment on canvas. 80 x 65 cm).
    The World Swung Through Space. 2017. (Acrylic, pigment, fabric on canvas. 80 x 65 cm).
    Fruiting Bodies. 2017. (Acrylic, pigment, fabric on canvas. 80 x 65 cm).
    Tenuous Flora : Communication Network. 2017. (Acrylic, pigment, fabric on canvas. 80 x 65 cm).
    Skelteal Vegetal Sync. 2017. (Acrylic, pigment, fabric on canvas. 80 x 65 cm).
    Crystalline Form. 2017. (Acrylic, pigment, fabric on canvas. 80 x 65 cm).
    Cosmic Ghetto Music III. 2017. (Acrylic, pigment, fabric on canvas. 145 x 180 cm).
    Dewdrinker IX. 2017. (Acrylic, pigment, fabric on canvas. 80 x 65 cm).
  • DEWDRINKER       .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .     

    DEWDRINKER: Or the Intolerable Strangeness of Vegetable Consciousness – Roma 2016    
  • Sunspilt I - Origin Version. 2016 (Acrylic, spray paint, fabric applique, string, and marble dust on canvas. 145 x 180cm.)
    Sunspilt II - Indigo Banana Leaf Version. 2016 (Acrylic, spray paint, fabric applique, string, and marble dust on canvas. 145 x 180cm.)
    Sunspilt III - Turquoise Pomegranate Version. 2016 (Acrylic, spray paint, fabric applique, string, and marble dust on canvas. 145 x 180cm.)
    The Intolerable Strangeness of Vegetable Consciousness. 2016 (Acrylic, spray paint, fabric applique, string, and marble dust on canvas. 165 x 180cm.)
    Dewdrinker - Swaying Mass 2016 (Acrylic, spray paint, fabric applique, string, and marble dust on canvas. 145 x 180cm.)
    Dewdrinker I 2016 (Acrylic, spray paint, fabric applique, string, and marble dust on canvas. 65 x 80cm.)
    Dewdrinker II 2016 (Acrylic, spray paint, fabric applique, string, and marble dust on canvas. 65 x 80cm.)
    Sunspilt - Extract I. 2016 (Acrylic, spray paint, fabric applique, string, and marble dust on canvas. 45 x 65cm.)
  • The Averard Hotel   .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .     

    The Averard Hotel (The Bush Said Nothing Version) London, 2017    
  • City and Guilds Residency 2015      .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .     

    City & Guilds Residency 2015    
  • Installation at City & Guilds 2015 Artist in Residence
    Installation at City & Guilds 2015 Artist in Residence
    Installation at City & Guilds 2015 Artist in Residence
    Installation at City & Guilds 2015 Artist in Residence
    Installation at City & Guilds 2015 Artist in Residence
    Installation at City & Guilds 2015 Artist in Residence
  • And The Bush Said Nothing    .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .     

    And The Bush Said Nothing – The Catlin Prize, London, 2015    
  • The bush said nothing and didn't let us look very far either (Installation Shot - Paint and mixed media on plywood panels and canvas, 2.4m x 12m)
    The bush said nothing and didn't let us look very far either (Installation Shot. Paint and mixed media on plywood panels and canvas, 2.4m x 12m)
    The bush said nothing and didn't let us look very far either (Installation Shot. Paint and mixed media on plywood panels and canvas, 2.4m x 12m)
    The bush said nothing and didn't let us look very far either - (Installation Shot. Paint and mixed media on plywood panels and canvas, 2.4m x 12m)
    '..and it didn't let us look very far.' - (Paint, fabric scraps, string, paper collage, oil bar, pumice on canvas. 165 x 180cm.)
    Cosmic Ghetto Music I - (Paint, fabric scraps, string, paper collage, oil bar, pumice on canvas. 165 x 180cm.)
    Interspecies Communication - (Paint, fabric scraps, string, paper collage, oil bar, pumice on canvas. 165 x 180cm.)
    Cosmic Ghetto Music II - (Paint, fabric scraps, string, paper collage, oil bar, pumice on canvas. 165 x 180cm.)
    Giggling Overgrowth - (Paint, fabric scraps, string, paper collage, oil bar, pumice on canvas. 165 x 180cm.)
  • A Punk Smelling Flowers at the End of His Life       .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .

    A Punk Smelling Flowers at the End of His Life – Show RCA 2014    
  • Simple Pleasures, Lesser Pleasures, Base Pleasures (Detail)
    Simple Pleasures, Lesser Pleasures, Base Pleasures (Detail)
    A Punk Smelling Flowers at the End of His Life: Simple Pleasures, Lesser Pleasures, Base Pleasures - (Acrylic on paper and canvas, collage, Gaffa tape, string, scraps. 140 x 209 cm)
    Installation Shot (3m x 3m)
    Installation Shot
    Installation Shot
    Untitled (Primavera) - (Acrylic on canvas, 35 x 42 cm)
  • 2013 – 2014      .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .     

    2013 – 2014    
  • A Stop at Magnon Point - (Acrylic, enamel, pumice, string, fabric on canvas, 150 x 200 cm)
    Briar (Sick) - (Acrylic, enamel, sand, on canvas, 40 x 57 cm)
    Lolling - (Acrylic, pencil, collage on paper, 55 x 76 cm)
    Mildew Swoosh - (Acrylic, String, Floor Sweepings on Board, 110 x 200cm)
    Rotter - (Acylic on paper, 55 x 76 cm)
    ' ... Dripped + Glittered ... ' (Acrylic on paper, 55 x 75 cm)
    Vertebrae of Mammals / Caledonian Pines - (Acrylic, string, floor sweepings on panel, 110 x 200 cm)
    Palm Houses & Orangeries - (Acrylic, string, floor sweepings on Canvas, 120 x 200cm)
    Introduced 'Harvest Moon' Species: Native Version - (Acrylic and collage on paper, 140 x 220cm)
    Smashed: Glittering & Perilous - (Acrylic, Mixed Media on Canvas, 120 x 200cm)
    Wax + Wane (Mixed media on panel, mounted on stained and wax finished wood support) 150 x 100 cm)
    Wax + Wane (Detail)
    A Crazed Flowering: Version - (Laserjet print, acrylic and mixed media on paper, 300 x 300 cm)
    Sub Bass Shimmer - (Acrylic, screws, string, floor sweepings on paper 180 x 280cm)
    Sub-Bass Shimmer (detail) - (Acrylic, screws, string, floor sweepings on paper)
    Introduced 'Harvest Moon' Species - (Acrylic, gloss, collage on paper, 180 x 290 cm).
    Introduced 'Harvest Moon' Species: Kwisatz Hadderach Version (detail) - (Acrylic and digital print on paper)
    Introduced 'Harvest Moon' Species: Kwisatz Hadderach Version (detail) (Acrylic on paper)
    Underfoot V - (Acrylic and gloss varnish on paper, 55 x 75 cm)
  • 2011 – 2012      .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .     

    2011 – 2012    
  • Untitled: Underfoot I - (Acrylic and gloss varnish on paper, 55 x 75cm)
    Untitled: Underfoot II - (Acrylic and gloss varnish on paper, 55 x 75cm)
    Untitled: Underfoot III - (Acrylic and gloss varnish on paper, 55 x 75cm)
    Untitled: Underfoot IV - (Acrylic and gloss varnish on paper, 55 x 75cm)
    It’s All Around Us I - (Acrylic and gloss varnish on paper, 55 x 75cm)
    It’s All Around Us II - (Acrylic and gloss varnish on paper, 55 x 75cm)
    It’s All Around Us III - (Dry brush acrylic on paper, 55 x 75cm)
    It’s All Around Us IV - (Dry brush acrylic on paper, 55 x 75cm)
    It’s All Around Us V - (Dry brush acrylic on paper, 55 x 75cm)
    Black Narcissus Bike Gang III - (Charcoal on Paper, 22 x 33cm)
    Black Narcissus Bike Gang II - (Charcoal on Paper, 22 x 33cm)
    Black Narcissus Bike Gang I - (Charcoal on Paper, 22 x 33cm)
    Black Narcissus Bike Gang - (Charcoal on Paper, 22 x 33cm)
    Untitled: Girl with Camera - (Screen print on paper 21 x 27 cm)
    SafePik - (Screen print on paper, 12 x 17cm)
  • Oak Trees Lullingstone Park    .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .

    Oak Trees Lullingstone Park    
  • (2012 – Ongoing)

    In the 1820s Palmer lived in a self-imposed rural exile in the town of Shoreham, Kent. Palmer would walk the whole to reach Shoreham from the Old Kent Road in south London. Palmer was an autodidact and his weird, visionary, borderline psychedelic images from this period were at odds with aesthetic sensibilities of the time. A series of large watercolour and ink drawings from this period depict the ancient oak trees of Lullingstone Park in Shoreham. Some of these trees still stand today, and one in particular bears a striking resemblance to a tree from Palmer’s suite of drawings. Since the summer of 2012 I have been making frequent trips to the park and filming these trees. The films are all made on Super 8mm, old technologies seem to suit.

     

  • Rose Branch Minuet         .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .

    Rose Branch Minuet    
  • Rose branches from a January pruning were cut to a manageable size and brought to the studio. Laid out on the table I came to think that their thorns resembled notes on the staves of musical notation, or pins on the drum of a music box. Each branch was wrapped in tissue paper and the resulting pattern of pin prick holes was transposed onto a musical staff. This ‘composition’ was then carefully punched into a notecard which could be played back through a toyshop musicbox device. This was fixed to a violin which, functioning as a resonance chamber to amplify the sound, was in turn amplified and connected to an electronic delay. When the user ‘plays’ the instrument the sound continues to reverberate through the space for the length of the electronic delay.

    This work is accompanied by still images from a Super 8 film of the rose bush from which the branches were cut. The stills are taken one from each second of a thirty second clip, which laid out in this way resembles a Muybridge-esque early moving picture.

    (Rose branches, musical score, music box, modified violin, electronic delay, amplifier, photocopies on acetate. Dimensions variable.)

  • A Crazed Flowering  .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .

    A Crazed Flowering    
  • Published in 2013 as an edition of 60. This 113 page document comprises the encyclopaedia A Botanical Miscellany, and the essay A Crazed Flowering. It is heavily illustrated throughout. Intended as a text to accompany exhibited work it charts a meandering path through a vast number of influences and references which inform my practice.

  • .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .

    Decay    
  • An interesting study could be made of modes of decay in sci- ence fiction novels and particu- larly those of J.g. Ballard who catalogues a particularly inventive assortment: petrifaction, crystalli- sation, overgrowth, damp, drought and a number of which i’m sure have slipped my mind. From The Crystal World:

    Instantly I realized that the description of the forest ‘crystalis-ing’ and ‘turning into coloured glass’ were exactly truthful. The long arc of the trees hanging over the water dripped and glittered with myriads of prisms, the trunks and fronds of the date palms sheathed by bars of livid yellow and carmine light that bled away across the surface of the water, so that the whole scene seemed to be reproduced by an over-active technicolor process. The entire length of the opposite shore glittered with this blurred chiaroscuro, the overlap- ping bands of colour increasing the density of the vegetation, so that it was impossible to see more than a few feet between the front line of trunks (Ballard 1974, 81 & Ballard 2008, 68).

    ‘… The likeliest reversal
    of decay being petrifaction …‘ (harbison, 110).

    See also The glass Flowers at harvard.

    And of the effects wrought by botanical overgrowth upon the remains of abandoned civilisation John wyndham, mentioned above, elaborates below from The Day of The Triffids:

    Viewed impressionistically from a distance the little town was still the same jumble of small red-roofed houses and bungalows populated mostly by a comfortably retired middle class – but it was an impression that could not last more than a few minutes. Though the tiles still showed, the walls were barely visible. The tidy gardens had vanished under an unchecked growth of green, patched in colour here and there by the descendants of carefully-cultivated flowers. Even the roads looked like strips of green carpet from this distance. When we reached them we should find that the effect of soft verdure was illusory; they would be matted with coarse, tough weeds (wyndham, 241-2).

    Geoff Dyer in his book Zona (2013) – from the russian ‘zone’ – writes about the subtle magic of the damp and drippy overgrown landscape of the zone in Andrei Tarkovsky’s science fiction film Stalker (1979):

    … Weeds and plants swaying in the breeze. The tangled wires of a tilted telegraph pole. The rusting remains of a car. We are in another world that is no more than this world perceived with unprecedented atten- tiveness. Landscapes like this had been seen before Tarkovsky but … their beingness had not been seen in this way (dyer, 58).

    Dyer suggests that Tarkovsky has brought ‘this landscape – this way of seeing the world into exist- ence,’ (perhaps we should qualify that to Tarkovsky’s medium cinema):

    … Many forms of landscape depend on a particular artist. Or writer or artistic movement to render them beautiful, to make the rest of us see what has always been there (as the romantics did for mountains … ) sagging shacks, wrecked cars and fad- ing signs … [The] ‘Quality of a new world which none of the existing arts allowed to be imagined’ (dyer, 58).

    ‘Tremors from the future can be felt throughout Stalker’ says dyer (74) in its foreshadowing of the 1986 disaster at Chernobyl.

    After the evacuation the Zone of Exclusion was littered with the rusting remains of vehicles that had been used as part of the emergency cleanup. Plants stitched the empty roads and cracked concrete. Trees thrust through the warped floors of derelict buildings. Leaves changed shape. Vegetation clambered up the crumbling walls of abandoned homes (dyer, 75).

  • .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .

    Chloris (Botticelli – Primavera)    
  • From the fifth book of Ovid’s Fasti in which the wood nymph Chloris’ nakedness attracted the first wind of spring, Zephyr. Zephyr pursued her and as she was ravished, flowers sprang from her mouth and she transformed into Flora, goddess of flowers.

    .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .

  • .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .

    Doctrine of Signatures    
  • A pseudo-scientific belief that the hidden medicinal proper-ties or ‘virtues’ of a plant reveal themselves by the physical appear- ance of the plant; ‘the doctrine of signatures proclaimed that the Almighty … gave man a broad hint as to the use to which plants could be put. For example, those with heart-shaped fruit or bulbous roots were suitable for treatment of cardiac troubles …while scaly objects such as toothwort, pome- granate and pine-cones, relieved toothache’ (Blunt 141). This is of course nonsense. The names most closely associated with the theory are Theophrastus Bombast von hohenheim (!)

    a.k.a parcelsus (d1541) and giambattista della porta (d1605) for his publication Phytognomonica or ‘plant indicators.’

    Another late follower of the doctrine of signatures was Thomas Browne (d1682) who in his dis- course The Gardens of Cyrus identi- fies the Quincunx as a recurring geometrical arrangement that reveals a network of natural cor- respondences in nature. he glides easily from this to a the doctrine of signatures – that stones plants and roots and flowers contain encoded messages, analogies, symbols their properties uses and purpose (warner, 130).

    .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .