April Sketchbook

Suzanne’s March pages have come back to me; this time there is a strong emphasis on the unnoticed, the ordinary, the overlooked. I am quite fascinated by the idea of psychogeography, and through my own practice have become more aware of my own surroundings and the effect they have upon me and my thought processes.

I live on a large council estate at the outer edge of the city; it is a place of contrasts. Detritus, fly-tipping, run-down garages, graffitti are all commonplace; and yet there is also a profusion of  opportunistic wildlife and greenery – urban foxes, kestrels, ancient woodland, bluebells. This place on the cusp, where farmland meets the bypass, has undoubtedly had its effect on my internal journey.

I have been working on my response this week. Sitting in my studio, the idea for a new direction in my personal work has dropped into my brain; inspiration exists, but it has to find you working, in the words of Picasso. Fascinating how the creative process works – how different projects feed and enrich one another.

Transformational Landscapes

I’ve finished my Transformational Landscapes sketchbook, a spread from which is featured above. 

I usually blog on a Sunday, but I’m currently experiencing technical issues uploading photos to WordPress, so if you are interested in seeing the book in it’s entirety, please head over to my Instagram feed here. You can also find some of the images on Twitter here, and on my Facebook page here.

Apologies for my technical rubbishness, hopefully normal blogging schedule will resume soon!

Collections

I’ve spent time in my studio this weekend reading, listening to dreamy music by Max Richter, and working on a particular sketchbook I’m making at the moment.

The dreamy music helps me to achieve a state of flow, which in turn informs the work on the pages. When something unexpected happens I find myself simply observing and allowing things to develop. I’m using water soluble graphite on gesso on a brown kraft paper book. I brush and scrape the gesso thinly onto the page; the graphite diffuses and flows and blurs as I spray it.

I am going through a phase of collecting interesting phrases, picked out like shiny treasures from the books and papers I read. The sketchbook I’m working on at the moment, which contains variations on the gesso and graphite, has attached itself to the phrase ‘transformational landscapes’, a phrase I found in a paper entitled ‘Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge (2): Epistemological considerations and a conceptual framework for teaching and learning’ by Jan H.F Meyer and Ray Land. The phrases I find please me. I turn them over in my mind like a child turning over smooth pebbles on the beach, cupping them in my hand, weighing them and feeling their shape and smoothness. I list them in my notebook. A treasure trove.

I’m currently interested in other-handedness; partly to do with a persistently troublesome elbow on my dominant side; partly because working with my non-dominant hand forces me to relinquish control and allow things to develop as they will. The sketchbook has been executed almost entirely with my left (non-dominant) hand.

I’m not sure how all these threads tie together – or rather, I’m not sure I can articulate it; in my mind it all makes perfect sense.

Journeys

Journeys, landscapes, internal and external, literal and figurative.

The fabric background seemed apt; the creases and folds echoed the contours of the landscapes, and the traces left behind by other wayfarers.

..the suppressed memories of a more ancient archipelago.

Robert Macfarlane, The Wild Places

The gif format lent itself to the idea too; it’s difficult to pinpoint the beginning or end.

The (carelessly cut) edges became curiously sculptural, like landscape formations too.

Little book of secrets.

New Inspiration

Mary’s contribution to our book arrived through the letter box yesterday morning, full of colour, inks and prints. I want to add to these pages of loveliness, but as yet I haven’t formed a clear idea of how to proceed, so I’ve left it to percolate for now.

Mary also sent me a book made from photocopies of portraits drawn by students. This resonated deeply with me; my own work is intimately concerned with personal narratives, landscapes of the mind, and journeys, and the portraits reminded me both of my teenage self in art class at school and my young daughter currently growing into an adolescent.

 I dismantled Mary’s book and reassembled it to include some recent photocopies my daughter made of her own hands; both seemed to be deeply evocative of a stage in a life, a memory, a snapshot of a moment in time.

I am now considering how to work in and around the pages Mary and I have contributed to this next book in the series.

I have also been working on another project which I am thinking of adding to this interesting conversation; this book is in a scroll format and follows on from some of the ideas and techniques I developed in response to Suzanne’s bold and bright prints.

Again, a work in progress; I don’t want them to be finished pieces as I want to leave room for Mary to respond, to keep the conversation open.

I’m enjoying working in this very open way; I can work on pages Mary has sent me, and I can also work on new ideas as they crop up. We’re also not confined to a single format, which I’m finding liberating. I’m relieved that Mary has responded so positively to my January pages, and has embraced the less structured, experimental way of working together. 

I am inspired and excited; the conversation has started well.