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.

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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.

Sketchbooks

When we visited Louise’s exhibition at the Art Yard, I was intrigued by her collection of sketchbooks, which were presented as part of the show. I liked this – the preliminary thinking alongside the finished pieces on display. 
My own work is very process-based; it’s about the act of creation, the hand of the creator, the thought process as I make things, the journey both internal and external. So I have been considering the role that sketchbooks play in my own practice.

I have noticed more and more that my Sketchbook Circle books are a place where I test out and explore ideas that I’ve developed through the ATS. Bouncing these ideas off someone else, trying them out in response to someone else’s work helps me to push my boundaries, work outside my comfort zone, try out new things.

I also keep a textile/collage book, and I’ve started a ‘trying things out’ book for experimenting with processes and techniques; and then there’s my brain-dumping book, where I write stuff and park things for later when I’ve got mental overload.

I’ve noticed that, although I don’t have a consistent, signature ‘style’, the ideas that underpin my work remain consistent whatever I’m working on. I’ve realised that actually the ATS has helped me to begin to understand what I’m trying to say, rather than developing said ‘signature style’.

I’m starting to panic less at the thought of a final exhibition in the summer; I’ll show whatever best expresses where my thinking is at that time.

Another Circle Closes

It’s that time of year again… I’m working for the last time in the book I have shared over the year with Ben, before I post it back after Christmas. I’m feeling a sense of achievement as I look back over the pages we have shared, and the visual conversation we have had. I have been lucky enough again to share with two talented practitioners who have made me think, and have challenged my own practice.

My experiences on the Artist Teacher scheme have inevitably found their way into my sketchbooks this year, and vice versa, reminding me how different aspects of my practice all inform each other and are influenced by each other. Having the sketchbooks on the go alongside the ATS enables me to put ideas on the backburner and work on something else, or try things out in a different way, allowing me to explore and experiment in different contexts.

I have sent my sketchbook back to Louise for the final time, and I’m excited to see how she responds to my final additions. I have signed up for another year of the Circle, hopefully one sketchbook partnership and one digital partnership; I am already excited about where the experience will take me next.