Saturday, December 22, 2018

Magazine d'Art De Saigon, Issue 4

I was very pleased to be included in the current issue of the Magazine d'Art De Saigon. In the issue I introduced myself and some of my personal history along with a brief summary of the recent digital print I made (District 7 Strata, 2018), which involved walking as part of the creative process.

A more in-depth account of the work was published in the 5th edition of the Living Maps Review.

It is great that I am able to use this forum to introduce my work and hope that it will be the start of a productive period for me here in Saigon, Vietnam where I have been living and working since May 2018.

The section focusing on my work can be read here:
or, below:

Hard copies of the issue can be ordered via Blurb here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The 10th Online Performance Art Festival

On the 6th December 2018 I was very happy to participate in the 10th Online Performance Art Festival, conducted solely online and broadcasting from my home in Saigon, Vietnam.

I chose my performance 'The Path to Enlightenment' as I had not performed it live before, only conducting a recorded version on 2nd July 2017 on Cheung Chau Island, Hong Kong.

This live-streamed version went out on the internet at 1:00pm UTC (8:00pm Vietnam time).

This 10th incarnation of the Festival, concept initiated by Sandra Bozic, took place from 6th - 9th December and my performance was the second piece to be presented on the first day following Yusuf Durodola who was streaming from Lagos, Nigeria.

Live performance is interesting as there is no guarantee that events will happen as planned, anything is possible and it is necessary to be prepared for that eventuality. In fact there was a surprise (for me) during my performance. At the beginning, I set up the framing of the candle and there was a minute or so before I began as I needed confirmation that the live-streaming was working properly. Once I received the go-ahead from Dragan Strunjas I switched off the lights and began the performance.

In the version I recorded last year, once I had lit the candle it burned until I blew out the flame and it instantly re-ignited itself. In this new, live version I discovered that the first time I blew out the candle it did not re-ignite as expected although this was not such a problem, of course, as I could easily light the candle again. Following the second lighting of the candle the performance then proceeded as expected until the candle had burnt itself out thereby ending the performance.

On reflection, the candle's failure to re-ignite itself actually reinforced the underlying meaning behind the performance. The struggle to extinguish the candle in the latter part of the performance, was combined with an earlier struggle to make the candle work the way it should! I was initially frustrated and disappointed that the candle didn't re-ignite, until I realised that this added to the uncertainty and loss of control felt by Sisyphus. I was forced to surrender control to the candle and it was necessary to accept whatever happened. These surprises and unexpected outcomes are what makes performance exciting for me. I have tried to embrace accidents and chance occurrences in my work overall but in performance the effects of these serendipitous events can be quite visceral.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Ways to Wander: Walk No. 49 - Waylaid Walking

Score No. 49 - Waylaid Walking in the book 'Ways to Wander' by Clare Qualmann and Claire Hind, currently being interpreted by Dr. Blake Morris, is 'Waylaid Walking' by Dr. Charlie Fox.
Blake is re-enacting all 54 walks to be found in the book.

This score is inspired by the practice of Walter Benjamin. As the score states: "Quotations in my works are like robbers by the roadside who make an armed attack and relieve an idler of his convictions." (Walter Benjamin from One Way Street).

Benjamin wandered around the shopping arcades of Paris, allowing the environment, people, objects to trigger thoughts, feelings and responses. As I am currently residing in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam, I chose Ben Thanh Market for my own personal dérive. The following images and thought fragments came out of that walk.

My walk aimed to coincide with the walks by Blake, Sandra Cowen and the Loiterer's Resistance Movement taking place in the UK.

For direction, the score advises: 'As you walk along alight on the poor objects that illuminate the use and embodied history of a place; arrested by the thoughts conjured out of that object, material or surface, record that idea or you thought-feeling as a fragment of words'.

Ben Thanh Market

1. Mid-afternoon, Ben Thanh Market is open and should be thriving though many units facing to the exterior remain unused. The shutters that provide a link between the exterior and interior of the market are padlocked creating a fixed though decorative wall, leaving the gates of the market as the only breaks in the facade.

2. The Terra-cotta decorative screens on the exterior of the market were perhaps ventilation screens to keep the market interior a little cooler. If so, the screens have now been blocked from the inside. Has the space behind the screens become occupied and do the new tenants wish to keep their goods more secure?

3. The market entrance was once marked by the combination of stepped arches and iron lattice work, both painted in an attractive, contrasting colours. Nowadays, this grand decorative solution has given way to gaudy, plastic banners stretched haphazardly across the portal. This is the way to attract today's customers.

4. Hidden away above the entrance is the secret office, the windows barred. Night and day the low-wattage light tube flickers but no movement within can be discerned. Is the market management meeting still in progress? or did it ever commence?

5. The market in full swing, the walls and arches that have witnessed many sights over the years slowly crumble through lack of maintenance. The sales staff cannot maintain their concentration as they daydream and think of other things.

6. As the morning transitions into lunchtime, the fresh food area becomes a hive of activity. Customers and market staff alike order cà phê, phở, and/or bánh mì. * 
The out-of-date cartoon plush toys will have to wait.

7. Over at the wet market section, there is a plentiful offering. Besides live crab, prawns and shellfish of every description, it is possible to buy fish either alive and struggling in the plastic bag or semi-dried and arranged in woven baskets. These milk-eyed fish lie still and do not stare back.

8. Very little is wasted and everything is presented without frills. As this is the final area to see, at the tail end of my visit (so to speak), I wonder if the market has shown me everything? I doubt it, I am sure there are many more tales to be told here...but that would be for another day.

*Vietnamese style coffee, soup noodles (usually with beef), sandwich made with crispy French style baguette.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Ways to Wander: Walk No. 48 - Walking With a Tennis Ball

The long-term interpretation of the 'Ways to Wander' book by Dr. Blake Morris continues and I was able to participate once more from my location in Vietnam.

This time the walk was No. 48 in the book, a score written by Tobias Grice that (as the book describes) 'engages in utilising a tourist mindset in a familiar environment, exploring issues held in plain sight'. 

Score by Tobias Grice in 'Ways to Wander'

When recreating one of these scores it is necessary to contextualise the score to fit the particular environment in which it is being enacted.

I walked from a housing development close to the Vivo City shopping centre (that was nearby the area I studied while working on the 'District 7 Strata' digital print) to the Crescent Mall further along Nguyen Van Linh - taking in the Ho Lake Park in Phu My Hung.

Walking Route - 28.11.2018

As I walked I bounced the lime green tennis ball across different surfaces, noticing the different sounds made as the ball bounced, how the different materials affected the bounce and, as the bounce was reduced to a roll, how the ball continued to move across this and other adjacent surfaces as well as how and where the ball came to rest.

Screen captures from video recordings taken during the walk

I conducted my walk on Wednesday 28th November 2018. Blake walked this score during the same week together with Phil Smith and Clare Bryden.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Collecting Colours in Saigon

I had previously written about my recent digital print 'District 7 Strata', and how the work led on to further divergent threads that I am now beginning to unpick one by one. In addition to this I would like to express my satisfaction at having the opportunity of writing about my working process in more detail.

I had the pleasure of having an article accepted into the Lines of Desire section of the online journal LivingMaps Review.

I tried to describe my working process during the creation of the digital print and the decisions I made throughout. The editors of the Lines of Desire section, Blake Morris and Clare Qualmann enabled me to complete this article, refine it for publication and also to clarify my own thoughts into a more coherent state and for that I am extremely grateful.

The article can be read here.


Maps are symbolic representations of chosen places, whether real or imagined and are constructed in ways that communicate specific information. Sometimes maps can be accurate geographic recreations of locations but often these relationships can be sacrificed if other information has been granted priority. The following article details the working process undertaken by Patrick S. Ford as he creates a digital print based upon a study of a district of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) in Vietnam. A period of familiarization of the district involving extended walks resulted in a piece of work that is essentially a map of the area under study.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner - Alan Sillitoe

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner by Alan Sillitoe was published in 1959, winning the Hawthornden Prize the following year.

In this short story Sillitoe uses long distance running as a metaphor for an emotional and physical escape from society. The main character, Colin Smith, was caught by the Police for robbing a bakery and sentenced to Borstal (prison school) in Essex. His talent for running attracts the notice of the borstal's authorities and they offer him the prospect of a light workload for the remaining 6 months of his sentence if he can win a cross-c country race against a well known public school.

In the race, Smith easily outpaces the other runners and leads the race until the final meters of the race, at which point he stops and allows the other runners to overtake him, to the great anger of the Borstal authorities.
In revenge Smith receives a regime of hard, manual labour for the remaining time he has to serve, but Smith harbours no regret at all. The system could take away his freedom but nobody can force him to run, that is his alone.

The book was adapted into a film by Sillitoe and directed by Tony Richardson in 1962. Tom Courtenay starred as Smith and won the BAFTA for Best Newcomer and the Mar del Plata International Film Festival Award for Best Actor

It was a master-stroke to turn this short-story into a feature length film as, when it was first proposed as a film Tony Richardson estimated that the film's running time would have been around 17 minutes long. Sillitoe worked hard and the screenplay by expanding it into a film lasting an hour and twenty minutes.

During the time Sillitoe write the book, attitudes to sport, especially running was changing from the old concept of amateur sport in which athletes competed for the pure glory of excelling in the sport rather than monetary gain.

While conducting research for a planned book on aspects of performance art, I re-read the short story and found pertinent commentaries on the state of mind attained by runners during long distance races. I had experienced these same feeling myself whilst competing in hill races and ultra marathons. The pat-pat-pat cadence of his footsteps being very familiar to me as a way for a runner to monitor their condition during long races.

Short clips and commentaries on the film version can be found here, and here on YouTube.

Link to book on

Sunday, October 14, 2018

'PHAN MANH' Fragments - Hiraki Sawa at the VCCA, Hanoi

Hiraki Sawa (born 1977, Japan) gained his BFA at the University of East London and MFA from the Slade, University of London.

Sawa's work has been described as Hypnagogic and after viewing his work I can understand the suggestion.  The world he creates within his videos could indeed be imagined as being sited within the transition between sleep and wakefulness although Sawa himself would claim that he is 'simply shifting his frame of reality' (

The 'reality' that Sawa invokes is akin to that invoked in childhood when a simple toy becomes the trigger or catalyst for the creation of an entire imaginary world.

The organisation / curating of the show worked very well I thought. As I entered the exhibition area the first pieces I saw were small, intimate and required me to bend down to closely inspect the video footage being shown on tiny screens. Subsequently, as the show unfolded, the imagery expanded in scale almost as if I had entered this dream-like world in which inanimate objects such as toy aeroplanes or rocking horses began to move, or sprouted legs and walked away. In other pieces, the groove of a vinyl record became detached from the disc and stretched itself as a thin ribbon across walls or the room space. As I sat in the darkened room and watched the many video pieces I felt as though I were eaves-dropping, secretly spying on what happens when humans (or more specifically, adults) are not around.
The pieces had a consistent feel without being repetitive and I left the show with a smile on my face.

The non-profit art centre, Viacom Center for Contemporary Art (VCCA) is sponsored by VingroupJSC with Doctor Mizuki Endo as Director. Their stated mission is connecting Vietnamese Contemporary Art to the global art scene. The center's flexible exhibition space covers 1,700 square meters and the entrance is free. The VCCA can be found in the Vincom Megamall Royal City in Hanoi.

Vincom Royal City at ground level - Megamall beneath

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Open-ended work

Following the completion of the digital print work 'District 7 Strata', 2018 there have emerged several new lines of investigation that have sprung from both the development phase and from the finished work.

'District 7 Strata', 2018

As the print is actually a map of the studied area in District 7, the first thing I did was to take a closer look at the layout of the streets, especially the road junctions / intersections. For each of the 34 junctions lying within the studied area, there is a corresponding colour that was collected on site and which eventually worked in conjunction with the shaded blocks surrounding it. The shaded blocks featured lines going in different directions according to a logic that was determined in previous work, vertical, horizontal and diagonal. 

I noticed that the most interesting zones, where colours interacted with shaded blocks in different ways, constituted larger blocks made up of 9 squares as measured on the background grid. Having noticed these interesting zones, the first thing I did was to highlight them and look at them in greater detail.

The first selection of interesting 'zones' prior to print completion

I selected 9 zones of particular interest. The number was important as each zone was itself made up of 9 squares of the background grid. The selected zones are indicated in the notebook page drawing above.
Once the digital print had been resolved and the edition (x30) printed out, I reselected the 9 zones on a test proof, as seen below. This test proof was made on a cheap colour printer and therefore displays mistake that were not carried on to the final version printed for me by an output company.

Selected zones marked on the proof sheet

Two forward directions became apparent to me and both directions entailed working on larger versions of each zone. I happened to have a pack of small samples of Saunders Waterford cotton papers that I had been carrying around for a while and now their time had come. 
For the first direction I began working on the zones by laying watercolour down onto the Saunders sample sheets, starting from the top-left. Below is a very early stage archive photograph of the initial progress showing the initial layers of colour.

Painted investigation showing initial stage of work

The second direction arose after considering the physical nature of the mapped area and how the topography of the area was comprised of buildings of different heights interlaced by the roads and pavements. As the shaded blocks had different directions of hatching I devised a formulae that would determine the height of each block from a datum level: vertical hatching was assigned a value of 1, diagonal hatching from top right to bottom left was assigned a value of 2, diagonal hatching from top left to bottom right was assigned a value of 3 and horizontal hatching was assigned a value of 4. I could now work my way through the 9 selected zones and build them up into a relief structure according to the assigned heights and colours. 

The work on the relief pieces and the painted pieces would progress in tandem to allow any cross-fertilisation of influences to take place as the work developed.

Initial planning for relief structures (framing may not be retained)

Constructing blocks with the assigned values, adding white undercoat

As these two projects develop, I will later post updates to show the progress along with the resolved pieces of work. This work will be carried out alongside a couple of writing projects I am also engaged with.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

'Cities For People' - Ho Chi Minh City University of Architecture

The 1st Festival dedicated to Ho Chi Minh City Public Spaces runs from 25 - 29 July 2018 and as part of the festival I attended a keynote lecture given by Associate Prof. Camilla van Deurs - partner, Director & Team Lead Design at Gehl, Copenhagen, Denmark

Prof. van Deurs introduced us to the work of Gehl and how she and her team strive to put 'the life of public spaces first'.
The many examples she talked us through were stimulating and illustrated the attitude that has many times put Copenhagen at the top of world rankings for the world's most liveable cities. I was particularly interested in the point she made about how children are an important indicator of any public space. Wherever adults feel safe to let go of a child's hand, where they are allowed to run free, to play - then this is indeed a space that is safe and comfortable. Her practice put people first, which may not be a new idea but it certainly makes a refreshing change from the usual obsession with traffic.

Of course, Denmark is very different from Vietnam. In Saigon especially, the roads are bursting at the seams. During rush hour, pavements become additional lanes for motor-scooters and pedestrians need to take extra special care at these times. Work is still underway on the first line of the local Mass Transit Railway but when this single line opens in around 1-2 years, I predict it will not make much impact on the number of vehicles on the roads.

The cultural life of the city is vibrant with almost every conceivable spare piece of land at some time during the day becoming a make-shift cafe or restaurant with the addition of a few tables and chairs hastily arranged.  To me this is an asset, the city is enriched by these activities. In other cities in Asia, Hong Kong for example, the street food and hawking culture is under siege by the authorities who seem intent on destroying the very culture that brings life to the streets and also attracts many overseas visitors.

However, some things could be easily improved without too much expense or upheaval. Many pavements are so filled with parked motor-scooters that pedestrians need to walk in the road. Many pavements are also in a terrible state of repair and I feel that it would be very difficult for a wheel-chair user to get around the city.

As an artist, and currently a 'walking artist' I was particularly drawn to the way that the Gehl team gathered data from the city and converted it into visual and readable images that could communicate the team's ideas and plans. In essence I feel I have been doing something similar. I recently completed a colour digital print that I worked on by physically walking the streets to become acquainted with the layout, the colours etc. and my observations were fed directly into the image of the print.

The University of Architecture website can be found here.

More about Gehl here.

Information about the founders, Jan Gehl here, and Ingrid Gehl here.

University of Architecture, Ho Chi Minh City
(Photo: Patrick S. Ford)

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

International Drawing Dialogue Phase 2, 2018 - Completed

Phase 2 of the drawing dialogue initiative has reached its culmination, with an exhibition from 12-19 July 2018 at the Educational Research Centre in the city of Katerini, northern Greece.

My work on this project began last November with four unresolved drawings that sprang from another project of mine employing frottage techniques to record textures on large rocks I found in the landscape in Hong Kong. The marks resulting from this process began to take on a certain character that I felt resembled some kind of language, albeit unknown. Keeping this thought in my mind as I worked, I imagined that I was actually compiling a text and as the marks gradually built up they developed relationships among themselves that could almost have been syntactical.

Once these four drawings had reached a satisfactory state I posted them to Georgia Boukla in the UK, so that she could continue work on them. A little while later, four drawings made by Jane Kennington, also in the UK, arrived and I laid them out so I could get to know them a little better.
Once I had become more familiar with them I began work, attempting to develop the image further without pushing it to a resolution...sometimes not so easy to do. These four drawings were then posted to Georgia so she could attempt to resolve them.

When the final set of four drawings arrived, it was my responsibility to guide the images to a resolved state. In fact, by this stage, the three of us had in front of us a set of four drawings that had been worked on by the other two collaborators. Once this stage had been completed all the resulting drawings would be sent to a common location to be exhibited.

It turned out that due to certain circumstances, I would be leaving Hong Kong and so I had to work hard in an effort to resolve the images before I left. I had to work quickly and make some quick decisions, which is something I do not like to do when I'm working on such drawings, especially as part of such a unique project. I much prefer to wait and allow the drawing itself to guide me to a conclusion.

I have tried to combine photographs of the three stages of each drawing so that the progress is easier to see. Some of the images are better than others as they were taken quickly for reference rather than for archival purposes. The final stage of the third set of drawings is left blank at the moment as I do not yet have access to the resulting images that are, hopefully, now on show in the exhibition in Greece. [This will be updated if / as soon as the final images have been obtained].

Once again, I am so grateful to have the opportunity to work on this collaborative project. The results are unexpected and the work was challenging, yet so rewarding. An artist's practice can often be quite a solitary existence and so this project is a chance for me to break out of my usual methodologies and to take a step sideways to encounter a new experience. I have learnt so much from this project and I think I could not wish for more. I would like to thank and congratulate the organiser, Gabriela Boiangiu and my two collaborators, Georgia Boukla and Jane Kennington.

Exhibition Venue: Educational Research Centre
(photos courtesy of Erini and Georgia Boukla, Gabriela Boiangiu)

Combined Stages of the Drawings:

Round 1:

    Patrick                         +                    Georgia                   +                    Jane  

Round 2:

       Jane                      +                   Patrick                    +                Georgia



       Jane                     +                    Patrick                   +                 Georgia

Round 3

Georgia                +                    Jane                    +                     Patrick 

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Dennis Creffield, 1931-2018

I was saddened to read that the artist Dennis Creffield had passed away, and that it had been two days before I had picked up on the news.

I will not attempt to write an obituary for Dennis because that has already been done with great respect by others much more academic than I am. However, I would like to recount a story of loose connections that I noticed as I was reading back on his career as an artist.

I grew up in Leeds, Yorkshire in the north of the UK and attended Leeds College of Art (Jacob Kramer College of Art as it was known back then) and I frequented Fine Art degree shows held at the local Leeds Polytechnic (later to become Leeds Beckett University) and also Leeds University.

In 1977-78 I first attended the Pre-BA Foundation Course but after reflecting on my output of work and arriving at a less than satisfactory outlook upon it, I decided to work for two years in order to save up the money to pay myself through the course again. In 1980-81 I repeated the year and this time everything seemed to slot into place. I guess the first time I was looking for something that wasn't there, a secret perhaps that would explain how to become an artist. In 1980 I realised that there was no secret, in fact I needed to look inside myself to discover the way forward.

Dennis had spent a year teaching at Leeds University in 1964-65, just up the road from my alma mater, although by the time I had reached art school Dennis had already left for Brighton on the south coast. His first solo exhibition had been held at Leeds City Art Gallery in 1964, the same gallery where I saw my first art exhibition in 1976: wonderful paintings by Stanley Spencer.

The Guardian obituary also talked about his friendship with the poet Peter Redgrove and how they used to  frequent Schofield's Department Store, which I knew well. Sadly this store has long-since been demolished.

Interestingly, earlier this year I became involved with a collaborative drawing project entitled (tele)consequences initiated by Professor Paul Sermon and Jeremy Radvan of Brighton University. Not long after this project had taken place, I was packing up my books in preparation for a move and came across many volumes of the work of Peter Redgrove, books I had collected years earlier while still living in the UK.

Dennis had been a student of David Bomberg, who's work I also greatly admire and so it should be no surprise that I included examples of work by both artists when I gave a lecture and ran a half-day drawing workshop at Kyoto Saga University of Arts, Japan, back in 2013. If anyone is investigating the drawing process and wish to experience the power and emotional impact of drawing, then you could do no better than to examine the work of these two formidable artists.

More detailed information can be found at the following links:

The Guardian Obituary here.

Creffield talking about his working process here.

'Body and Soul', Dennis Creffield exhibition at the James Hyman Gallery here.

'English Cathedrals: Drawings by Dennis Creffield' here.

'Dennis Creffield: Paintings of Petworth' here.

At the Tate Gallery here.

Biography at the Borough Road Gallery here.

British Art Portfolio here.

At Waterhouse & Dodd, London here.

At the University of Brighton here.

Images from the Tate Gallery, links to original website in the image title.