• Architecture and irrationality: a new series
• Upcoming shows: come and visit

I’ve started a series of perforated metal sculptures called The Skyscraper Index.

Met Life Tower: Panic of 1907 | Zinc-coated steel, edition of 10. 16x60x4cm
The Shard: Global Financial Crisis | Zinc-coated steel, edition of 100. 22x30x4cm















These wall-hung panels are based on buildings that were once the tallest of their time. The series is based on a flippant idea formulated by economist Andrew Lawrence: “An era’s tallest building rises on the eve of economic downturn”. 

For example:

Singer Building 1908 Singer Corp. pioneered business innovations to sell their ubiquitous sewing machines, such as hire-purchase agreements, patent pools and multi-national trade. The Singer Building was completed just after the Panic of 1907, and demolished just 60 years later.
Burj Khalifa 2010: Skyscrapers were originally developed to make the most of high value land. In the desert presumably this is less of an issue. “A purposeless monument to the subprime era” – Daily Telegraph


There’s something primal, almost tribal about towers. The tallest ones have come to represent the financial industry, another weirdly cultish sect, with its arcane scholarship of tax codes and use of obscure devices like algorithms or financial derivatives.

Or as Will Self more bombastically puts it, “A skyscraper is always a big swaying dick vaunting the ambitions of late capitalism to reduce the human individual to the status and the proportions of a submissive worker ant”

But with the Skyscraper Index the mask slips. Decisions are suddenly not as rational and hard-headed as you imagine. Buildings, which are the result of many sophisticated systems (planning, financing, designing, building), are simultaneously a manifestation of risky speculation, this over-exuberant faith in a bubble economy.

The punched metal alludes to electronic hardware or building systems – both familiar and strange, everyday and incomprehensible. CNC machined objects are part of a world of robotics that dystopian sci-fi writers imagine one day taking over the world.

This is a CNC punching machine. Isn’t it cool?

But the sculptures also refer to a cultural heritage of esotericism and mystic religion: tribal masks, occult symbols and cosmic diagrams. Like examining a computer and being able to read its notches and incisions like some cryptic hieroglyphic mantra.












The series forms a pantheon that recognises our contemporary idols: framing beliefs in economic progress almost as if they are tribalist rituals; underlining irrational, vestigal and atavistic elements still persistent today.

Upcoming shows

Works from The Skyscraper Index will be on show at:

• At This Point in Time – Scottish Arts Club

1-31 March 10am-6pm Tue-Sat
24 Rutland Square, Edinburgh EH1 2BW

• Saltaire Arts Trail

27-29 May 10am-5pm (Bank holiday weekend)
I’ll be showing glass & metal works in one of the terraced homes that make up the model workers’ housing at Saltaire, Yorkshire, as part of the Saltaire Inspired Arts Festival. Address tbc.


Read more about The Skyscraper Index

A Scrapbook of quotes, images, and other refs

Wikipedia entry on Lawrence’s Skyscraper Index

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