Bees in a Tin line-up announced!

It is with very great pleasure that we’ve just announced the details for Bees in a Tin, an event I’ve co-curated with Hannah Nicklin and Jen Southern.

Bees in a Tin will feature talks and workshops from key makers and thinkers from around the country as well as two panel sessions for audience questions. If you’re interested in the spaces where the arts, science, technology, and games crash into one another, apologise, and then buy each other a drink: then this is for you.

The talking throne made by East London Kinetics

Even if we do say so ourselves, the line-up is outstanding, with contributions from

  • Dr. Rebekka Kill
  • Kate Andrew
  • Holly Gramazio
  • Hamish MacPherson
  • Stuart Nolan
  • Nigel Reid
  • Tim Wright
  • Pete Ashton
  • Katie Day
  • Alice O’Connor
  • Gareth Briggs
  • Henry Cooke

You can find out more about them all and what they’ll be talking/doing about on the Many & Varied website.

We’re also very excited to have a keynote commission from Sarah Angliss:

According to Sarah, the stage is a tricky place to deploy a machine with an unusual interface. Your audience may be encountering the interface for the first time. They’ll have to grasp its function as the music unfolds, even though they can only see and hear it in action, rather than get their own hands on it. These days, musicians often have to face the challenge of laptop-based interfaces, where so much of the function is embedded in invisible, intangible code. As Sarah talks about these issues and her experience with unusual machines on stage, she looks at the importance of ‘coupling’ – in particular, the audience’s sense of cause and effect between a musician’s actions and sound. What are we gaining – or losing – by loosening this coupling? Does it matter if the audience have no intuitive sense of the musician’s influence on the music? And how can we deploy coupling to turn any gig into an unforgettable event – one which could never be replaced simply by listening to recorded music at home.

Tickets are only £4.50. Buy some.

Monkey + mechanical advantage

Problem: the monkey is too heavy for the stepper motor to lift.

Solution: science.


large smoked vessel

Previous posts for your information

You’re going to smash your pots?! But why?!

OK, so when I did this test and posted this post I was thinking that I would build on the FMG‘s existing practice of using ceramic powders as a base for screen-printing inks.

Rather than alter the process, I was interested in using different raw materials: rather that using bought-in standardised powder of controlled composition, particle size and everything else, I wanted to use something with more of a human element about it. Something with a history.

The day science/night science text that was to be printed is discssed in more detail in this post.

Bearing in mind my recent crises centering around (amongst other things) what characterised my best/more interesting work and the gradual admission that it wasn’t my more craft-oriented stuff, I chose to use some of my old ceramic works as the source material.

During the course of researching the screen-printing process and investigating different binding materials, it looked like the other materials in the ink would obscure the presence of the crushed ceramics.

I’m no longer planning to use screen-printing, but will instead use the ceramic powder in a more sculptural way…

day science/night science

One of the buildings where I’m based as part of the ISP thing is the NetShape Centre. Basically where a load of industry-focused research is done into trying to make components as close to their final shape first-time ’round without having to do any further finishing or processing. The thing is though, its front wall is almost entirely windows and it looks absolutley stunning at night:

NetShape at night

At night the building is illuminated… and deserted. But there’s still a sense that things are happening. This is probably partly because it’s stuffed full of all sorts of recognisably scientific and technological equipment, however, I think that the main contributing factors are all the pipes and wires around the place. Maybe this gives a sense of movement and of processes churning away.

You can feel it.


Right from the start I’d harboured a desire to use this space somehow, but it wasn’t until about 5 months into my time here that the perfect project materialised.

Actually, it’s a project that’s been incubating for 4 years…

Francois Jacob

When I first started the BA course I read a book on creativity by Margaret Boden.

Within this was a quote from the autobiography of a Nobel Prize winning molecular biologist:

Day science employs reasoning that meshes like gears… One admires its majestic arrangement as that of a da Vinci painting or a Bach fugue. One walks about it as in a French formal garden… Night science, on the other hand, wanders blindly. It hesitates, stumbles, falls back, sweats, wakes with a start. Doubting everything… It is a workshop of the possible…where thought proceeds along sensuous paths, tortuous streets, most often blind alleys.
François Jacob
The statue within: An Autobiography, New York, 1988, p296

I have carried these words around with me for a long time and they resonate on all sorts of levels.

The NetShape Centre provides the perfect setting to use these words beyond the obvious link to the day and night thing.

If I remember correctly, Boden’s book was looking at the similarities and contrasts between creativity as seen from an artistic viewpoint and creativity as seen from a scientific viewpoint. I can very much see both aspects of the quoted passage within my own work. Firstly within the context of a (percieved!) art/science dichotmy and later as different stages I regularly go through within my art practice.

Do the people within the building experience the same thing?

I like the way the use of these words here hint at the infallible(?) scientists just blundering along like the rest of us.

In addition to this, I now learn that Jacob conducted work on feedback witin enzymes. This links in nicely with the idea of responding to your environment and, by extension, the whole notion of residencies.

The words of Day Science and Night Science will be integrated with the architecture of the NetShape Centre.

Pauline’s mug

One day, at a time when various other projects had stalled somewhat, I found myself over in the other side of the building. Thinking I’d grab something to eat, I wandered into Pauline’s.

For want of a better term, Pauline was the Department’s resident tea-lady. Tea, coffeee, sandwiches and the usual assortment of crisps and chocolate bars.

Pauline 2

When I walked in though, she told me she was retiring at the end of the week.

I felt I needed to use the next few days to document the end of an era: having worked there for over 20 years, Pauline was an institution.

She told me the story of her time in the Department and we reminisced about “sunset tuna” sandwiches and Children in Need collections. She often talked about the students as being “her kids”. She’d even remembered me after 6 years!

However, in the the time since I had been there, the urn and the table bearing rows of food had all been stripped out and replaced with a couple of vending machines. Even the cash box had been replaced with an electronic till…

This was the result of catering being centralised and the ensuing rulings over Health and Safety. No more hand-made sandwiches. No more fresh(ish) tea. Apparently things had been pretty dire over the last couple of years, but Pauline stuck it out ’till she could retire.

I made some sound recordings and took a few photos, but it seemed the most appropriate way of marking the event was to make a commemorative mug.

Pauline 1

The design takes several references from the sort of thing you see to mark royal weddings and jubilees, but being hand-drawn in biro, it is kept fairly low key.

The final presentation of Pauline, includes the mug and a short text (written on a Catering Services feedback form).

Pauline 3

virtual mug

Remember this?

I finally managed to make a start on getting a virtual mug to manipulate.

locating thiggumy


ink 1

Carl’s bucket (according to Carl)


I described the contents of Carl’s bucket, and then I recorded Carl describing everything as he put it back in.

Carl and the contents of his bucket

I was going to put the recording here, but the machine ate it. No recording.

Idea posted here for future reference…

Carl’s bucket (according to me)

Carl’s bucket

  • 6x latex gloves: all used
  • 3x boxes: labeled 267-1222, tool steel, 8mm sq x 100mm, made in Sweden, PE
    • Box 1: contains 1 piece of toolsteel, 8mm sq x 100mm
    • Box 2: contains 4 tools, various shapes, total length approximately 8mm
    • Box 3: contains 1 piece of toolsteel, 8mm sq x 100mm
  • 1x 30cm ruler: steel, metric on one side, imperial on the other
  • 1x double-ended spatula
  • 1x Stanley tool: name and shape unknown
  • 3x biros: black, stubby
  • 1x biro tube: black and white striped, cut to approximately the same length as the biros
  • 1x cylindrical stub of Milliput(?): in knotted transparent plastic bag (bag split, Milliput dirty)
  • 2x small plastic cases: labeled Industrial Tooling Corporation SE. 0769, cutting tools may shatter: eye protection should be worn
    • Box 1: empty
    • Box 2: contains a small drilling tool
  • 2x length of brass tube: different lengths
  • 1x countersink: HSS, 12.4mm, 90°
  • 1x small drilling tool: shattered
  • 2x bolts: 40mm long, allen key top
  • 2x bolts: 50mm long, allen key top
  • 1x set of allen keys: 10mm, 8mm, 6mm, 5.5mm, 5mm, 4mm, 3mm, 2.5mm, 2mm, 1.5mm, complete
  • 1x plastic disc: white, slightly sticky about 60mm in diameter
  • 1x metal ring: approximately the same size as the plastic disc
  • 1x plastic bag: small, transparent, self-seal
  • 3x plastic discs: white, about 20mm in diameter
  • 2x pennies: one minted in 1976, one minted in 1989
  • 1x square of metal gauze
  • 1x rubber band: large
  • 1x small plastic self-seal bag:contains thin, sticky, transparent plastic discs
  • 2x thin, sticky, transparent plastic discs
  • 1x roll of sellotape: small, nearly finished
  • 1x metal component: about 25mm in diameter, with shoulder, hole through centre
  • 1x metal component: about 35mm in diameter, without shoulder, hole through centre
  • 1x 35mm bolt: black
  • 2x 18mm bolts: black
  • 1x small metal block: cutting blade attached
  • 1x resin moulding: bullet-shaped with internal screw thread

the contents of Carl's bucket

Copyright and permissions:

General blog contents released under a Creative Commons by-nc-sa license. Artworks and other projects copyright Nicola Pugh 2003-2024, all rights reserved.
If in doubt, ask.
The theme used on this WordPress-powered site started off life as Modern Clix, by Rodrigo Galindez.

RSS Feed.