Arriving at class, we found tables laid out with objects, and each quickly wrote a description of what the interior of the strange fruit might look like. Then we passed the description to our neighbour, who drew a cross-section of the fruit based on the description -
Next task, observational drawing - but with the aim of "showing something new" - in my case it was an act of imagination, imagining that the leaves of the pineapple could be turned to activate a musical mechanism (hmm, that would have made an interesting cross-section...) -
Now we were in the habit of writing on our drawings (must say I found that uncomfortable a first) and next task was to use the shape of one of the objects as the container for a space that contained ways for people to navigate it, with stairs, ladders, tunnels, etc -
Finally, the "peel-away" of a part of the outside to reveal something unexpected in the inside, and the possibility of putting the object in a context. Mine had a tangle of tubes inside (drawn from imagination) so I put it into "spaghetti junction" -
Adding the imagined components makes me want to look harder at real things, to get a grasp of their structure.
Using charcoal makes me want to use more charcoal. It's messy but I love it.
Some views of what other people were up to -
Artists etc mentioned:Fritz Kahn
(1930s infographics)Brodsky and Utkin
- nature printsAlbertus Seba
's cabinet of natural curiosities
We had homework. For the second part of this module, Amanda
listed the aims -
This is a foundation project, aimed at expanding ways of thinking as well as means of making.
Explore visual contrasts between flat space (pictorial) and illusory space (perspectival)
Access imaginative depths that extend, circumvent or even surpass factual knowledge.
Combine or make creative use of flat and illusory space in drawing
Integrate creative ideas with empirical facts (apply personal research)
Evolve, inhabit and communicate imagined environments or 'systems'
Explore composition in terms of function and aesthetics.
Use (if appropriate)graphic devices to enhance image/information synthesis and arrangement.
The homework was to do research towards either a "folly, museum, performance space" or something more like the layout of botanical drawing. Both appealed to me, and I could happily have spent the week (or forever) doing research on this. But by Monday it would be time to do the drawing...
Somehow the idea of the ivory tower took hold - it was something personal to me, for had I not spent years involved with academe in various ways: as a student at intervals; working in university departments in various capacities; married to, divorced from, or involved with academics, romantically and/or as friends. Its machinations intrigued me; surely there were visual metaphors, or simply visual opportunities, in the theme.
First choose your shape, then think about what to put in it and how to organise the drawing. The tower might have some of the architectural features of the castle in Annecy, and perhaps those solid stone buttresses propping it up. There would be tortuous stairs and fast, fancy elevators, and some glass ceilings for women, and small crowded rooms and large rooms with just one occupant, and collections of objects of various sorts. Such as ... ivories ... something I've drawn in various museums.
I spent a happy hour in the British Museum, after going to a talk there, drawing some ivory objects from the Chinese and Indian galleries -
And I went through my "museum" sketchbooks to find other relevant items, taking them along on my ipad -
But at the class, it didn't come together at all easily. So much to "want" to put in, more than could be done in the time available ... and, where to start?
First, though, Amanda demonstrated two things. She showed how tracings, made from objects in a sketchbook etc, could be arranged and rearranged, and then transferred to the drawing paper - and how paint or ink could be flooded in to fill areas. Simple, even basic stuff - but so very useful to have not just a spoken reminder but to see it happening.
The second demo was "trace monoprint" - again, a simple technique -
The ink is applied thinly and you draw (or trace) on the back of the paper. If the ink is too thick and the monoprint is too smudgy, do another...
This gives a different quality of mark, apart from any accidental transferral of ink. (Try not to press at all on the paper.)
And now my ivory tower.
|sparser, clearer (maybe)|
More deletions, some rearrangement (gotta have balconies) - and the addition of shapes from photos of sketchbook pages, and at least it's got contrast and a cross section ... and something unexpected. The writing says, at top left "It's an ivory tower but..." then at lower right: "we all know about the madness in the attic". There's some slight madness in adding text at all; I surprised myself.
Next to it is (click photo to enlarge) a work using the trace monoprint technique.
Artists mentioned in the slide show: