Weighing of Souls

I’d researched a little about the Weighing of Souls when I was working in Croughton and some of this is in a previous post but this hopefully keeps some continuity…and explains a little more about the thinking behind what I was doing…

The psychostasia, Greek ‘weighing of souls’, is a method of divine determination of fate, which persists from the Iliad through to christian theology.

The Western prophetic religions (i.e., Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) developed concepts of the Last Judgment that are rich in imagery.

There is rare 14th C wall painting in the church, which is adjacent to RAF Croughton, which depicts the Weighing of the Souls. I was interested in this as a Doom Painting.

As described in the link : The word ‘Doom’ in this context carries in itself no sense of disaster, or of eternal damnation; it is the ‘time of trial’, the blinking of an eye between time and eternity in which the individual soul’s fate is sealed, irrevocably. 

The proximity of this Christian church and the wall painting which survived the Reformation in England to RAF Croughton feel significant to me and demonstrate not only the commonality of concepts of Last Judgement in Christianity and Islam but the idea of the value or weight of one soul vs another.i.e the value of a ‘soul’ in the UK or compared with a ‘soul’ in  the Middle East.

I  bought these scales with the idea of making a piece for the ‘pop-up show’ which demonstrated this in some way.


I made paper aeroplanes from British and Middle Eastern newspapers to symbolise the military flights and flew them at/ laid them on the scales. I also printed some images of drones on some American dollar bills  with the intention of piling them on the scales


I wanted to put images of people injured in Drone attacks in Yemen ( where it is rumoured that the communications form RAF Croughton are relayed ) in the other weighing pan.

To make the images of people more fragile, I printed them on to glass using acrylic gel and then fractured the glass to make fragments..

I’d taken some of my experiments to Helen Slater ( mentioned in a post earlier I think) to see how to put images inside glass ( without them burning in the firing) and maybe make individual small images on pieces of glass.

She showed me how this can be done.. should I want to do it.. it involves sending some digital images and instructions to a company who will do it for you! See the previous post

I also decided to use some glass from a work made in 2012. I thought of this when I was with Helen as I originally made this work at her studio. It felt very ‘cellular’ to me in a biological sense… with a nucleus.  Interesting how ‘cellular’ has taken on another meaning.


It contains the residue of some thread used in a performance piece about bereavement and loss ‘ Unscheduled’ ( 2011) which had been burnt but preserved within the glass.P1030739

I decided to ‘release’ the charred remains and use some of the fragments to print on by breaking the glass with a hammer. It took some force to break the glass. Destroying a piece which could have been exhibited was a fascinating process. I’d not exhibited it partly as it was so difficult to move around! and seemingly so fragile. In fact it was quite hard to break. The smell of the charred thread was obvious and pungent..after all these years.

The reason for using this glass was to ‘layer’ the meaning and add continuation from past action to present and future action- the continuation of a story- through the re-mediation of material used in previous actions.

Again I used the acrylic gel to transfer the images. I cut my fingers several times on the edges smoothing the gel and image over the uneven surfaces.

My blood mixed with the gel….Symbolically interesting……?


Here is one of the images on the glass after transfer.P1030838

As you can see the clarity is poor due to the many uneven layers of ‘ twice-kilned’ glass.

also these fragments are very heavy and would need far too many dollar bills on the other weighing pan to even it out. This was the idea…. what is one soul  ‘worth’.

The intention is to go and get maybe 100 dollars and pile it on the weighing on the opposite pan to the glass. The problem though is that the images of the people would not be seen clearly.

I wanted it to have an element of interactivity. The audience putting glass images on the pan to balance the weighing…but theres a real health and safety issue.

Also my feeling is that it is too ‘literal’ a piece.

To be continued..maybe

The Reading Room Event: Last-minute set-up and Preparation


So, it’s been the longest time since a post at the time when I should have been posting almost daily! A lesson learnt there.

I’ve been and installed at Camberwell for the MA interim show and been to the PV. Detail of all that was involved to follow as I’ve been busy doing and reflecting ‘on-the-go’.

In a few hours I’ll be at The Reading Room hoping that some people will get in touch and that the phone signal  and Broadband will be sufficient to make contact and maybe even stream a Live Event via Google-Hangouts…

I think I’ve got it sort of sorted as much as I can before I get there….

Thanks to my elder son for the loan of his Chromebook, as my Macbook is too old an OS for Google hangouts!!


My younger son has also sent me some QRCodes for my Soundcloud stream  ( apparently I’m not computer literate, so I wouldn’t be able to follow his instructions in how to make them……!) so people can hear some of the recordings…

QR Code for Soundcloud for Reading Room QR Code for You Tube Chanel for Reading Room Participants

(Sorry Martin W if you listen to them… I know the quality leaves a lot to be desired..)

I have yet to go and pick up a package from the Post Office Sorting Office which I think is some newspapers that have been sent from Japan? Not sure if I’ll get there before I have to go to set up.

The cakes will be being made by Jane as I write. I can see her icing  them in her kitchen, in my mind’s eye. I really have no idea if anyone will come.

Nothing has been posted on the Croughton website but Jane has put something in the newsletter which is delivered by hand to every house, There are posters in the Co-op and pub and the bus shelter and I left leaflets out in the Co-op and the Reading Room too. Jane left some in the pub when she went to clean.

I’ve not posted the videos yet on YouTube but that is a ‘To do’… more of an archive than a piece of work.

I’ve just got to print out some H&S warnings for the linocut and some other info  to encourage on going contact.

I went over on Thursday morning to try the slide projector out in the small bar and also set out the materials. Richard has said that he will put to the tables and chairs this morning.IMG_2298

I’d better get on. Give me a call if you want to know what’s happening. 07956159954

The Reading Room – Background

Since the beginning of March I have been working on a project which has grown to be somewhat larger than I intended and has become an exploration for my practice as a whole.

During the Low Residency Tutorial with Dave Charlesworth, in particular,  it was clear that I needed to find a location  on which to base my process for future work.

I’m not sure what prompted the thought but I think it was the Digital Residents and Visitors talk on the Low Res.

I thought of this location also because I have been travelling to do some regular tuition work with a lovely family of home- educated children who live in the nearby village.

For me driving there was a bit of a ‘Journey down Memory Lane’, as for 10 years in my 20’s I worked close by on a farm site, my first ‘proper’ job after graduation.

Looking back it was pretty idyllic, strolling round fields all day listening to the skylarks and F1-11’s overhead and the occasional woodpecker ( and the crows!)

As I drove there I noticed the sign from Gigaclear, a promise to install ultra- high speed Broadband to the nearby villages.

I was struck by the fact that they still don’t have effective internet connections in these villages, only about 6 miles for the main town.

Also, that within a couple of miles or so there was RAF Croughton, a communications base used by the USAF.

Digital communications sent across the globe at superfast speeds. Some, reputedly involved in drone attacks and hacking of political leaders phones.

ThIs was made even more ? (not sure of the correct word here) incongruous / ironic, as it is going to double or more in size in the next few years.

At the beginning of March I made my first visit to Croughton, to investigate the village and it’s lack of Broadband/ proximity to some of the ‘Fastest Broadband in the West”!

I really need to look back over what I have been doing and am about to do to see where I go next as it feels as if a lot has happened in a short time.

The Reading Room : Developments after 7th Visit

28th April 2015:

These are a series of images as screen shots I took from news websites I found on line.

I’d been looking at lots of stuff related to RAF Croughton,  it’s expansion over the next few years and its possible involvement in drone attacks.

Apart from my natural inclination to be really angry about this and want to stop it, I wanted to take a step back and observe it differently. I saved these images and started to think about how to work on mixing video and stills, what to keep and what to throw away and what to make evident, what to ‘hide’.

I am considering the two audiences of the community who have welcomed me in to work with them and how I have described what I am doing, and a wider audience who are less concerned about the domestic impact of poor broadband in the village and more concerned about the communications at USAF Croughton and the actions these may or may not be connected with….

I feel an element of deceit, despite the fact that I am interested in the situation of communication and lack of it, as a whole.

I feel occasionally like a ‘spy’ rather than an observer.

The village community and base are so separate but so interconnected that it is difficult to negotiate whilst remaining open to interpretations.