This has been a journey of realisation and discovery on many levels. An exploration into drawing as a medium, discipline and a way of life through commitment and dedication. An in depth inquiry into the history of drawing, highlighting its true importance existing from the beginning of time as the first art form created using a stick to draw a line in the dirt. To the infamous cave drawings of Lascaux, it is evident that drawing is embedded in our being, a natural primal instinct to communicate through the use of drawing.
I had become frustrated as an artist not being able to achieve the results I wanted from painting and sculpture, it was clear to me that I needed to discover who I was by taking my practice back to the basics, drawing. Exploring gestures through repetition to create surface texture. This was a relaxed doodling approach which allowed my mind to rest and reflect on life. As a student with minimal money this suited my economic struggles as drawing was accessible and reasonably cheap. However, it seemed ludicrous to be buying paper (yet more money) when I could easily utilise the space around me, the paper-like walls called out to me. The walls of the studio became the surface for my drawings to exist upon. This seemed to increase the fragility of the drawing as it would only exist on a temporary basis, the drawing became ephemeral. The drawing transformed the space of the studio, much like how the paper becomes part of the drawing, the walls became part of the drawing. Furthermore, the solidarity of the walls transformed the effect of the graphite illuminating its silvery hue as the light beamed through the windows bouncing off the walls.
It made sense to continue my work with drawing, I had made a connection, it was my release which allowed expression through the language of gestures. After exploring a range of mark making I decided to commit to just one mark, to create a focus. The mark I decided to use was the looping mark, a playful gesture which can be repeated fluidly, a flowing motion across the page rapidly building up layers, creating surface texture. I soon realised the range of tonality could be created by changing the softness/hardness of the pencil. This created a sense of movement within the drawing as dark and light tonalities clustered together creating a mesmerising effect within the drawing.
I wanted to continue to push the medium of drawing and discover new possibilities and open up new avenues which perhaps would shock the viewer who had doubted the capabilities of the medium, which had previously been confined to the privacy of the sketchbook. I was driven to engage with the space of the studio once again and strived to create a whole wall of drawing, stretching over the entrance to my space. This was achieved within semester one of final year, but something inside wanted me to continue drawing into semester two and transform the drawing into an installation. This was something that I had never even imagined of creating before, I was out of my comfort zone.
I wanted the viewers to be confronted by drawing; to be encapsulated in it, exceeding all expectations, beyond any confines or restrictions, to create a visceral experience, engage and interact with the studio space directly, enabling the viewers to have a fuller experience not just to be ‘viewers’ but as the ‘experiencer’, to place the viewers in the heart of the art, to create an atmospheric infinite space.
And so, I set myself the task to complete the drawing installation within the last semester. This would require an immense commitment to enable completion. Through careful planning and calculations I worked out a time plan that would get the drawing finished before the final degree show. First I had to ensure that I had confirmation that C21 would be my space well in advance so that I could just continue working from the previous wall drawings from last semester. Once confirmed, I started drawing, aiming to complete about 6 hours of drawing a day. This was an exhausting process but a rewarding one as I saw the space transform gradually over the course of 7 weeks. Challenges were met when I discovered obstacles which proved to be difficult to draw upon, such as the pipe and ledges. However, I was determined to overcome these challenges and transform every last element of the space into the drawing.
Each section of wall was rigorously sanded down to create a smooth surface to draw upon, this prevented any unwanted texture which would ruin the quality and flow of the marks. However, I soon realised that the electric sander left its own trail of minute looping marks which were then highlighted white when I drew over them. At first I was unsure whether I liked these effects and was concerned whether they would detract the eye away from the drawing. But I soon saw these additional marks as another type of drawing which connected the process to the final piece.
The movement within the installation was unplanned and was visualised at the last minute, each area of dark tonality would be blended out to meet with a light alternate tonality this would then interact and lead onto another dark area of drawing. I intended to create areas of drama, whereby the viewer would look up to dark looping motions showering down over them. I decided not to entirely cover the wall in drawing and instead have an uneven edge which had a mountainous feel, each peak and ditch responding to the movement within the drawing. Furthermore creating a contrast between the whiteness of the wall and the dense drama of the drawing.
After 122 hours of drawing, the installation was complete. I finished with a sense of achievement having persistently worked of the drawing for seven weeks, making and remaking the same mark over and over. I have transformed the space into something that represents me, I have left my own trace, much like the cave men in Lascaux transforming the surface of the caves into a personalised space. One last decision I needed to make before the final show was what to do with the floor; do I draw onto it? Do I do I paint it? Or do I leave it just as it is? This was something that I needed to carefully consider as one wrong move would change the entire effect of the installation. Eventually after much deliberation I decided to leave the drawing as it was. The reason being that the pencil sharpening’s and dust were both elements of the drawing and were result of the drawing being made. It would reveal the method and process taken to transform the space. I felt if I had painted the floor that it would flatten and strip away any atmosphere created by the white dust.
I feel that this was a journey that needed to be completed and resolved through a crescendo, meeting feats of scale on a personal level. This has been an ongoing enquiry since semester one which inevitably ended in an installation, this was an urge that I had to meet and achieve. I wanted to create a piece of work that exemplified the true beauty of a simple medium, whilst expressing and exploring my own inner psyche. I realised things about drawing that I hadn’t thought about before, it is such a personal medium, so close to the movements of the hand which was controlled by my brain, no two marks are the same and all are unique to my own touch, no two people can create the same marks, each are individual to the person. Drawing has a universal connection to all human beings and I hope this will enable my viewers to connect with the installation, as everyone at some point has created their own drawing and therefore will be able to relate and interact with the space that I have created.
There are many more possibilities for future creation as drawing is limitless and endless, other gestures can be explored as can the surfaces upon which it exists on. From researching a range of historic and contemporary artists who are all influenced by drawing in some way, I have learnt and realised how diverse drawing is and have taken inspiration from many of them which could develop and extend my practice, my passion and my infatuation with drawing.