The Long Lens blog: Photography with added snaps, art and culture

The photography site for sore eyes. Featuring: Art, photography, performance and theatre. With extra writing because I'm also a writer.

Ticking Boxes an art installation at Preston’s Harris Museum by Martin Hamblen

A man whose work often revolves around words, Matin Hamblen is something of an enigma in northern England. A working artist who produces thought-provoking installations wrapped up in playful presentation, Hamblen has a complexity one would normally associate with artists working in London, Berlin or Los Angeles.

But here he is, offering up complex propositions presented as art in Preston. He is a studio member of The Birley in the city (where a group of diverse artists work).

Past work has included (and I may be incorrectly paraphrasing these titles):

Two Steps Forward, One Step back
Penny For Your Thoughts
Level Head
Cutting Corners
Moving the Goal Posts

Offering a (sometimes ironic) critique of society and the parameters in which we all work, and occasionally absurdly struggle, Hamblen’s latest piece (part of The Birley’s group residency with the iconic Harris Museum & Art Gallery in Preston) is Ticking Boxes.

My lo-fi  interpretation of the piece: Every day, Hamblen sits in they Harris and ticks boxes on endless sheets of paper. he’s been doing this for weeks (and finishes on Oct 28, 2016).  He’s kind of sticking his finger in the eye of bulky organisations like the Harris and the top-heavy administration rules which govern them.

Hamblen himself told me: ‘I try to literally perform phrases, hence ticking boxes…because I can’t tick all the boxes, that would be impossible…so it’s a figure of speech which most of us will be familiar with as a kind of compliance; a quantitative way of doing things, rather than a qualitative. Whilst I’ve been doing it, I’ve been thinking of every tick as an affirmation. Other’s have suggested it’s a kind of self medication,  a mantra – yes, yes, yes!’

Maybe he could explain better. Get him on on Twitter at

And Hamblen is doing something in Liverpool on November 5, 2016.

It is called Pss and is described like this: ‘The performance will include a middle-aged man inside a plinth. The work questions ideas about identity, shyness/anxiety, the pressure to produce. Blurring the lines between private and public space. Alpha and anxious, cock sure and shy, Pss considers the pressure to perform the everyday, to confirm his status and to make his mark.’

You can see the Facebook event here.


Marin Hamblen’s work can be seen on Axixweb here.


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This entry was posted on October 26, 2016 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , .
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