The Old Lookout

It sometimes it is necessary to ‘step-off’ the rollercoaster ride of working life and find a place where time is measured by changes in light and tides and passing of long, quite days. Thanks to Karen Shepherdson, I have just returned from such a place, having spent nine days as Artist in Residence at the Old Lookout Gallery in Broadstairs in Kent, UK. The gallery is in an idiosyncratic old leaning weatherboard building on the jetty with views across the English Channel. It is slightly rough-hewn but beautiful. I found it deeply luxurious to sit and watch the sea whilst ruminating about the experience of being a body in light.

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Outside the locals partied on the esplanade on Friday evenings, cooked welks in a large steaming pot on Sunday morning and spoke of the weather often. Day-trippers rolled in like a tide at 9.45am and rolled out again, significantly pinker, at 6.00pm.

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Being there was all about rhythm, the rhythm of light, tide and life. My days went slowly and I spent my time researching and developing three light collection methods which will form the basis of my ongoing Museum of Light project. After some coaxing, all the techniques worked well and saw me observing, tracking and following light around the gallery space from dawn until dusk.

The result is a collection of photographic sequences, luminance and colour temperature data and visual and text-based observations of changes in light within a specific frame. My challenge now is to collate this data, investigate what correlations result from these different approaches and to produce a series of art works based on these observations.

The intended outcomes of the residency are a pocket sized publication titled ‘A Light Collector’s Field Guide’, a short film about light and global orbit and the addition of a new data set to the Museum of Light archive.

lookout_15 lookout_16 the old lookout gallery

Running Away with the Circus

After six months of intensive animation, I have had the satisfaction of seeing the live performance of Circa’s Carnival of the Animals. This circus spectacular combines extraordinary live performance with animated moving image in a 40 minute show for children. The work premiered this week at the Out of the Box Festival at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre in Brisbane. The set designs work beautifully, the projection is balanced perfectly with Jason Organ’s lighting design and the performers are genuinely astounding.

Thanks to the Circa team for inviting me to join them on this adventure. And thanks also to Charlie Taylor, Jean-louis Pêcheur and James Baker for their inventive and idiosyncratic contributions to the work. Director Yaron Lifschitz declared this project never promised any sanity and there were definitely moments of madness along the way but ultimately Carnival of the Animals is a beautiful piece of work which deserves a long and prosperous life.

See a full portfolio of images from the performance here.

Creative Development

In Berlin this week to develop a new show with Circa. I am creating video projections which are a blend of circus, carnival and a travelogue of extraordinary creatures in exotic locations. We had preliminary discussions yesterday before watching Circa’s current show Beyond at the Chamaleon Theatre in the evening. This morning we designed a set and plotted basic the ideas for the first half of the show. In my mind, it is already a journey of wonder and amazement which happily fulfils childhood dreams of running away with the circus.

My afternoon was spent wandering the streets of Berlin and included the purchase of a petite but very lovely mid-century sewing box. Out for tapas this evening and then back to the theatre for a second viewing of Beyond.


After nearly eight months with my head buried in a large stack of books and three weeks of writing in the shed, today I have completed the second draft of my PhD proposal about wonder and light. I don’t I have a lot left to say, so I am handing over to Jerome A. Miller because he has summed up my experience perfectly.

“For in wondering about wonder, as in wonder itself, there is no closure. Indeed, the whole point is not to close the opening but to open it, to live in that openness, to be the unconditional questioner”.



I am currently teaching a motion graphic design course to the 2D animation students at the University of Hertfordshire. They have been given a brief to create a 1 minute documentary film which uses motion graphics as it’s main means of communication. I have decided to follow along and make my own short film. I shot my footage a couple of weeks ago in the Hoddesdon High Street when the fair was in town. It was a beautiful evening and the fairground lights looked exquisite against the darkening sky. The final film will incorporate text, moving graphics and rhythmic visual sequences.


I heard on the radio this morning that it is two months since the earthquake hit Japan, time seems to be flying by at the moment. I have spent an hour this afternoon collating daily portraits. Here are the next 24. It is pleasing to take stock, think about where I have been during those passing days and acknowledge all that has happened. Each image acts as a reminder of a particular day or series of events, evidence of those passing moments that add together to make a life.


A detail from illustrated greeting card Bird's Eye View by French & Godbold
So much happening this week, French & Godbold is officially launched and our greetings cards have already begun shipping. We are excited, it feels like a delightful adventure. I am also assisting in film selection for the University of Hertfordshire Digital Animation Film Day on 23rd May. Still taking daily portraits but no chance to upload this week. I did manage a hour of weeding yesterday in my slightly disheveled vegetables beds. Sometimes life is fun when its busy with many things.


Self portraits 73-96
Another twenty-four days, another twenty-four portraits. We are currently up to the 104th day of 2011 and I haven’t yet missed a picture. The longer the project goes the more embedded it gets in my daily process. My enthusiasm for the project has also recently been boosted by my lovely friend and photographer Sue Venables who wants to include my 365 Project in a book she is writing called 99 Photo Projects. I am delighted to be included.

49 – 72

day 49 to day 72, self portraits by Michaela French for the 365 days project
Another set of 24 pictures and we are now up to day 80, my, how time flies. I have had my head down working hard in the last 10 days, so my daily portrait has been providing some light relief. I am looking forward to a few pictures in slightly more exotic locations. There is a short break to Wales coming up and a croquet tournament to attend shortly, so life is not without adventure. I will aim to have this reflected a little more in my next set.


Fine tuning and preparations are on the agenda at the French & Godbold Studio this week. Our card designs are all being prepared for our first print run. We have some old friends re-versioned, “Slugs Dream of Lettuce” (above) and some new delights to keep us all entertained.  We get closer every day to our making our ideas into reality and we are looking forward to having all our work available through our website.