Current project: Regolith

Regolith, my current studio project, is about an awareness of ground in relation to time and space.


Buon fresco, or 'true' fresco, is an early, traditional painting method with an ordered process

involving specific materials, timing and a chemical reaction. Buon fresco therefore brings the materials, support, surface and process of the painting activity to the fore. At the same time as focusing on these physical components and the process (the ground of painting), buon fresco usually incorporates the image (the figure of painting). This creates a figure-ground tension, which is central to my work and to the discipline of painting more generally.


The marks (the image, or figure of painting) I am making on the surface, the intonaco, are a means to consider the timelessness of lands and the idea of ground as owner-less. In our daily lives, the stone of our houses and the pebbles on the beach have a timelessness - we have no grasp of their age as they are inconceivably old. On an interplanetary level and specifically relating to human activity on Mars, concepts of timelessness and age intersect with the problem of ownership and boundaries. Discussions in the public domain between the main contenders for development on Mars, or 'terraforming', completely bypass any concept of land rights. 

Buon fresco is a method originating in very early mural painting. This 'true' form of fresco painting (applying pigment in water to wet plaster) officially dates back to the Minoans of 2000 BCE. However, it can be said that frescoes were actually made a long time before, since cave paintings were technically the earliest versions of fresco a secco, or 'dry fresco' (applying pigment mixed with a binder to a cured surface, such as a cave wall). Well-known examples are in France (e.g. Lascaux, 18,600 years old; Pech Merle, 25,000 years old; and Chauvet, 34,000 years old), Spain (e.g. El Pindal, 22,000 years old; El Pendo, 26,000 years old; and Altamira, 35,600 years old), and Indonesia (Leang Bulu 'Sipong, 44,000 years old).

Fresco has witnessed a large period of cultural development, but it is barely a blink on the infinite time map of the universe. Buon fresco is the right method for this project about how we view 'new' land such as that on Mars, which is actually unfathomably old, as fresco links to the earliest art recorded in the caves and the sense of timelessness experienced by those who connect with the universality of that art.