I’m quite hopeful about this, these are three test pieces that I made with some small drawings that were lying on the workbench – I’ve written them with moveable-type letterpress letters that I’ve borrowed.
You can see the metal moveable-type in the picture. You probably have seen these – they are little metal blocks with a reversed letter on one end which used to be used for printing books and magazines, by setting them out into blocks (trays) and then inking and passing through a printing press.
I printed from the blocks directly and by hand, by coating them first with oil-based relief printing ink. Just the smell of print-making ink makes it a good day for me.
I trimmed down the torn and yucky edges of all the small studies today – to look at them more easily, and without unintentional distractions. Looking at the thing I have made is part of the work – is work. Although it doesn’t look like I’m doing much.
The idea is to unfocussedly look, letting my mind wander into possibilities and into seeing them as if I don’t know them, and also to look in a more analytical mode at what I have got – to see what I want to take forward for the next batch.
Tomorrow’s work is to try and learn something and write down what it is that I have learned. Write some things I want to try next. After that, to start again, do some more on better pieces of paper.
I have been thinking that I’ll draw the sky. Somehow. Or maybe not draw, but at least work with. Start from a feeling of immersion. My main problem : that drawing immersion in sky is a crazy and difficult job, and I don’t know how.
I made an earth drawing instead today – from a video of the mountain. I’d taken the video last night on the way home, just after what would have been sunset, but since it was a cloudy and gloomy evening there was no colour, little light. The drawing needs more work – for me to approach closer to the feeling of last night, and to the evidence of the video. I need to make it fuzzier, less distinct; have less contrast, less interest, less resemblance.
The video is strange and obscure, technically dreadful. I think that what interests me so much about it is just that, its poor quality. I’ve found the outside boundary of the technology, and then crossed over it. The light levels have gone down beyond my camera’s processing capacity – it’s having a breakdown, it can’t find this in its programming, its changing its mind every half a second – what is air and what is objects, what is the appropriate focal distance, what is the space of the mountain? Things recede and return, in and out of focus, all is flattened and fuzzy. Our eyes break down at that light level too, we can’t trust what we see. But we’re better adapted than our phones – we still perceive and still keep some clarity; still retain something of three-dimensionality, the volume of the space, enough to navigate through it.
To return to my idea of drawing immersion in sky, my drawing is a drawing of a place that, because of its shape, is basically all round sky. So I think I can call it an atomosphere drawing, if not a sky drawing.
I’ve been researching, and I wanted to introduce you to Vatnasafn, the ‘Library of Water’, a sculptural installation created in Iceland by Roni Horn.
Vatnasafn is an archive of waters and weathers, housed in a hill-top building that used to be the town library of Stykkishólmur. Instead of its books, the building now holds a collection of waters in twenty-four tall glass columns, collected as ice from twenty-four of Iceland’s glaciers. The columns are surrounded by windows to the town, sea and sky, with weather words written into the floor, as well as an archive of weather reports from local people.
It is a generous space, where the ‘art’ stands back quietly, and the viewers can find a place for being. For reflection, contemplation and community. A place for feeling out the connections between climate and culture. What we have, and therefore what we stand to lose.
Probably the best thing is to link you to the website, which has pictures.
A little more playing today inspired by a chat with artist Angela James and her experimental and open approach.
I have made a very tiny test piece this evening – introducing some unusual (unstable) elements: watercolour, plus oil-based materials – safflower oil and turps, a little oil paint, sanding sealer, varnish. I have written down what I used, in the hope that I will remember what I have used…
Today, a very quick look at a painting and a painter to cheer us up. Click the link to see the painting, which is called ‘make your own damn art’.
The artist is Bob and Roberta Smith (one person). He has painted this using sign-painting techniques, and I love it that he is sending us out of the gallery (in this case the Royal Academy in London), and packing us off home to make our own art using wood recycled from out of a skip. Or anything else we feel like using.
By telling us to ‘make your own damn art’, Bob and Roberta Smith is very succinctly saying that our personal creativity is the route to our empowerment – and it seems that ultimately he has in mind that it is also the route to radical political change. In his film of the same name, he points out the social inequality in our culture ‘sector’. Saying that in his view our culture is being made by ‘a sort of gentry in disguise’, which means that ordinary people’s stories are always getting written out of history, or maybe not getting written in, and that ‘I think art should be made by everybody.’