Category: psychogeography

From Track to Backwater


In 2010 as my mother was in the final stages of Carcinoid cancer I took a walk down a disused railway line in my hometown that used to run from Didcot to Southampton.

I used it as the beginning of a NTU M.A. in Multimedia. A year later it collapsed and I retstarted it as a Fine Art Drawing M.A. instead after she passed away in 2012.

As my mother worsened I continued to visit her and that track and walk it and remember the times I walked and drew it in the early 1990s.

Here is an image from a small sketchbook drawn on the 1st August 1990….I dated everything in those days.


I completed the M.A. in Fine Art but felt out of sorts with Fine Art in general and indeed published a paper which called into question the basis of so-called Practice-led Art Research theory. This didn’t make me flavour of the month with NTU art research in general and especially in the fine art department. The fact that I went on to illustrate James Elkins as he proceeded to do pretty much the same demolition job (as Chicago professor of Art he carried more weight than a lowly NTU lecturer) only increased the antipathy.

I completed the M.A. with a distinction which hilarious as it was completely ignored and I never got to even show the work….. the support was overwhelming…

I however had not forgotten that Track project and always thought it would come back. NTU had failed to understand it let alone supervise it…..

I was told it too complicated I would have to supervise it myself..hilarious isn’t it.

As I wrote to NTU HR in my resignation note..Farewell and thanks for all the fish but in the end your waters were too shallow.

Now after resigning and resetting my compass I am finally ready to take it all forward.





North Berks Champions Long Wittenham F.C. 1960-61
Ivo C. Belcher top row second right

Second Wind

Under guttering stars
and moon lost in clouds
like the only working headlight
on the Co-op delivery van,
emerald bonnet and silver radiator
now passing them,
run five figures.
Left-back, goalie, centre-half,
inside-right, winger.
The ice fogs breath, crackles under studs,
shatters in the white blaze of puddles
as strides pound eastwards
down the tarmac road
known locally as the ‘straight mile’.
My father’s village team out training
February 1956
for a cup match at the weekend.
Hurtling down empty roads
between black fields.
Shouts like stray passes
bouncing off trees and clouds.

The same road ten years later.
A grey Morris Minor hitting sixty.
Door panels shudder and shake
as an unhealthy engine complains.
We’re testing the brakes
We’ve spent all morning repairing.
At least that’s what dad says as we
shoot down the straight mile grinning.
I lean my six-year old face
out the window until my eyes run.
I gulp and gulp in the cold air
Like a pike pulled out of water.
The dust and haze of harvest fields
spins away in the chrome side mirror.

Shouts ring in my ear.
Remember to pace yourself.
Keep a second wind.
If you’re one down
don’t argue
go back and score one against them.

I breathe deeply and thread the words together.
I pull one back.
The net bulges.


Sweet Thames Run Softly…



Going back to the source. I grew up near The Thames.

I have written about it for thirty years and now I researching it 🙂


Just discovered this so am now looking for a copy..

This also..


TRACKING TIME: Book or PhD? Or both?


Things have moved on considerably in the last few weeks.

I was interviewed for a Horizon CHI (Computer Human Interaction) PhD at Nottingham University two weeks ago. I did well to be shortlisted against stiff and much younger competition (average age 25). From the get go though it obvious that my interests were not aligned with CHI and secondly that I would not be able to work with their new corporate partners. I pitched my application to their older local community arts led model. No point crying over spilt milk….marked the end of my involvement in any kind of contemporary web/internet/computer relatedresearch.

De Capo.


What it did do was focus me on to what I do have an interest in and this Book proposal and possible PhD more firmly located within the Arts and Humanities area.

Here is a very rough outline of what the book may cover.


All dates and ideas provisional in the extreme :


An original provisional title from 2010


Proposed chapters .
Intro: Chalk Detonators to Concorde – The coming of the railway to the end of the line?
1. Dickens and Seymour. Railways and Illustration

2. Mr Fox Talbot and Mrs Dann: Reading’s First Female Professional Photographer and the Inventor of the calotype process.

3. Alexander Mann and the sequential image.

4. Fairground Kinemas and William Frith – Mapping Oxford a psychogeographical derive

5. Industrial film the art of industry in the Thames Valley – Rural Unions and the Co-Operative movement to Cowley Motors .

6. Rural Idyll: The Oxfordshire Railway Villages and Art Movements Blewbury, Long Wittenham and the Cotswolds.

7. Rural Presses and reactions to Modernism and Technology: Kelmscott, Cockerel Press and Communism.

8. Shooting Europe: The Spitfire Reconnaissance mapping of Germany from Beconsfield Aerodrome.

9. Atoms and Stars: The disintegrating world seen from Harwell and the DNA shuffle.11. Building the 60s Oxford and Abingdon – The Mini and The MG. The patriarchical machine.

Coda . Satellite of Love: Space -race to Boom-bust and the end of empire. Trickle down and the rise of the web..Bletchley Park to Cheltenham. News from Nowhere to News from Everywhere.


I also have a facebook page which may come in useful for future crowdfunding if I need to go down that road..or track:-)






Gnats Again…..a story revisited.


I am revisiting a paper originally given at the Film Philosophy conference in Amsterdam in 2013.


The full paper is available online at Scribd here:

ANAMNESIA: Art, Technology and Modernism in the Thames Valley 1850-1950

Back to where I started..literally…..first thought best thought?


This explains where my ‘art research’ has gone…
It not classic ‘design’ art research any more it lies somewhere along the Iain Sinclair/W.G.Sebald/Patrick Keiller line. i.e. A travelogue based exploration of the historic impact of technology on a specific geographical region. I am now working exclusively on this as my ‘written’ output alongside my poetry.

I no longer consider myself to be exclusively in the fine art ‘drawing research’ area.

I am now seeking full or part-funding or a receptive institution to help develop this project.

And here my first mention of ANAMNESIA in 2010:


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