Making marks on paper…
That's what i'm doing now…
Stripping my practise back to it's most direct and basic medium…
#drawing - a verb? It's all about process, instinct, action, acute observation and memory...
"Mr Verloc, getting off the sofa with ponderous reluctance, opened the door leading into the kitchen to get more air, and thus disclosed the innocent Stevie, seated very good and quiet at a deal table, drawing circles, circles, circles; innumerable circles, concentric, eccentric; a coruscating whirl of circles that by their tangled multitude of repeated curves, uniformity of form, and confusion of intersecting lines suggested a rendering of cosmic chaos, the symbolism of a mad art attempting the inconceivable. The artist never turned his head; and in all his soul’s application to the task his back quivered, his thin neck, sunk into a deep hollow at the base of the skull, seemed ready to snap".
Joseph Conrad, The Secret Agent.
Recently I had a small but significant 'revelation' regarding drawing. At the end of a long day visiting galleries in London, we visited the National Portrait Gallery. Tired eyes meant I had to take my glasses off and give my eyes a gentle massage with my fingers... Before I put my glasses back on, I looked up and was face to face with a Frank Auerbach portrait drawing.
Without my glasses, the drawing was a little out of focus, but it just jumped off the paper, looked so solid, sculptural.
I put my glasses back on, and the focus returned, the drawing a skeletal scaffold of lines searching, exploring the papers surface, a frenetic shorthand documenting an intense vision.
I analysed the drawing then took my glasses off again, the portraits fidgety lines merging.
I got up close and could see the process, the history of the drawing played out through repeated overdrawing, rubbing out, reassessments, corrections, incidental marks allowed to exist and be part of the visual dialogue.
My own practise is heavily rooted in materials and process but I had begun to feel trapped by some of the creative parameters I'd created. The Auerbach drawing made me reassess what my work was and could be. The idea of stripping my own practise back to the language of mark making through drawing, to see where I could go with pencils, graphite sticks, charcoal, rubbers, rulers, compasses and paper, felt hugely exciting and liberating.
To allow myself to let the process lead me.
A good drawing?
"A discourse between definition and the unresolved, the systematic and chaotic, certainty and speculation".
Simon Betts, from, The Good Drawing, CCW graduate school publications.
The images that will appear here over the forthcoming weeks and months will have no timescale for completion,
no urge to exhibit them driving the aesthetic in a certain direction
and, most importantly, no rules or restrictions as to what they might look like.
"There are no rules; drawing can be as minimal as a breath and as complex as the wave structures and recordings of the ocean. Drawing is kinaesthetic; a movement between points, a connection, recognition and gesture of any idea, mark, trace, line, symbol, shape, medium, space or surface".
Irene Barberis, from, The Good Drawing, CCW graduate school publications.
And, as Paul Klee once said, "A drawing is simply a line going for a walk".
This series of 'drawings' is ongoing.
They are a dialogue between myself and the materials - process led.
They have absolutely everything in common with landscape, rural and urban.
They are definitely not abstract images.
They resonate with half remembered images and sounds of Sheffield, the Peak District, Cornwall, motorway journeys, walks in the sun, the sky through the attic window, bike rides, cracks in the pavement...
They are all mixed media - eg, pencil, charcoal, chalk, lead powder, collage, masking tape on paper. 140cm X 110cm. As a consequence of exploring what drawing is, they now include more fluid materials, (paint, varnish) and found 'urban detritus' manipulated via drawn visual language (tone, line, texture, shape, form, etc). Subsequently the drawings are evolving into audio 'versions' or examinations of visual language through recorded, sampled, edited and looped arrangements.
All work © Stephen Carley 2016.