Temporal Drawing / Loughborough University
Susan Kemenyffy / Guest Curator 14/5/2021
She Drew her first breath
They Drew straws.
Drawing on history’s lessons.
Troops were Drawn down.
He Drew his last breath.
There is something in the English language that embraces the relationship of drawing and time across both poignant/or not sectors of human activity. In the hands/mind of a visual artist, drawing is a physical, purposeful, material act presented in measured time—ignoring or inviting the fourth dimension of ‘Time’ as an adjunct, proactive participant is an additive, personal choice. James Carey’s (#1) ‘To Hazelhurst and Back’ is an unexpected image of the detritus of sharpened pencils and erasers—accumulated after 17 hours of the recognizable act of drawing—speaks most eloquently of time’s passage. It is a visceral image that alludes to offstage actions and actors. It speaks of committed effort which is never observed. The introduction of ‘time past’—quite literally—precipitates unanticipated ‘conversations’, expanding a static definition of ’drawing’.
Developing synapses that fire to the conditioned requests of a tutored mind and skilled hand(s), drawings may appear passively gentle, seeking the viewer’s parallel ‘stillness’ while attending to a creator’s musings. Their aspects may appear familiar in demeanor, but look closely, there are new ‘voices’. Sarah Casey (#2) ‘Absent Presence’, Nicola Lee (#3) ‘Stilled Life2’, and Sarah Tutt (#4) ‘Standing With Time’ present ever so quietly. Eschewing drama, their perceptive, tonally understated images thoughtfully offer time infused ideas.
Video dramatically expands the space potential of drawings. It can be intimidating in scope and scale, challenging with unfamiliar dimensions, directions, materials and intent. It may be myopic, problematic, teasing, theatrical or political. Many balls must be balanced judiciously in mid-air, to maintain coherence. Its drawing raison de etre must provide focus, ‘order and method’—as Hercule Poirot admonished Miss Lemon—to legitimately speak in that particular medium. Jorrit Paaijmans (#6) ‘RDD2’ and Nicci Haynes (#7) ‘Drawing Dancing’ videos completely, comprehensively expand upon possibilities, with a subject receiving a tattoo, and a dancer receiving drawn florishes on film. Viewing them one may smile or gasp, bite a lip, or exhale/inhale, but one cannot pass blithly by as if the drawing was invisible. We are conditioned by the movement—lapsing time— within that medium to pay attention. One easily visualizes Helen Goodwin’s (#5) ‘Drawing the Wind-Impermanent Edge’, as a video. The whole of her canvas—air/water/wind—would be in thrall to the actual passing of time.
It is a mind’s agility, curiosity, discipline and rigor—in parallel with the dextrous manipulation of hands or in partnership with ‘other’ ‘muscle memory’—that determines a drawing’s triumph or tragedy. Indecorously lush or chillingly spartan drawings all begin as considerations of touch followed by linear movement: initiated by that first moment of introduction; that first connection; that first partnership between idea, mechanics & material.
Drawings may be a continuously working, problem solving process or a one-off experience. The act of drawing may be solitary, collegial or collaborative. It may adhere to classical tenets, invent its own boundaries as Joanna Leah (#8) has in her fixating ‘Blu Carrier’ video. She manipulates plastic 3-D blobs as kites flown at waist level. Positive/negative spaces of the ‘drawing’ continuously shift as she skillfully maintains their loft. Sue Field (#9) conjures a personal nightmare, ‘Drowning in My Living Room. Self Portrait’, in the context of scientific reports of rising seas and populations contending with natural phenomena, whose increasing profile of concern inexorably concentrates the mind.
In their ‘Traion3_Folkestone’, Foa & Hosea (#10) have drawn dozens of time-spanning transport vehicles in varying minature sizes. They come together as a great armada of static movement, observed at a distance through binoculars, by a seemingly life size figure, superimposed roughly in silhouette in neon or chalk or gouache.
Drawing research may assiduously invite other disciplines to strengthen its mantra, but always, always its value lies within the unique attitudes, precepts, and intuitions of personal, observational ‘statements’. Wuon-Gean Ho’s (#11) animation ‘Shadow Boy Shadow Girl’ is a study of 2 lives’ time spans, with a steady, emotionally moving shift in tone. Drawings can comfortably investigate cultural characteristics of kindness, cruelty, anger, joy, humor, surprise, sadness, remembrance, connectivity, loss, curiosity, pride, possibility and hope. They may do so with bravado, or sleekly with precise movement and innuendo. Konstantinos Avramidis (#13) ‘Archaeology of Walls’, presents the crisp, forthright specificty of an architectural drawing, but wait a moment, animated grafitti appears, marking the cool facade of known history with more immediate concerns for now history. The works of Paola Ardizzola and Gabriele Oltremare (#12) ‘Utopian project for the Adriatic fishing machine coast’ and Sarah Baker (#14) ‘Lost’, each display a confident command of line, irrespective of their divergent stories. They convey a capacity to organize clear, cleanly defined spaces.
Landscapes—in all their permutations—are forever newly seen. At times they are quietly captured, while other eyes catch them in flow, almost glowing with the strength and power deep beneath our feet, still other times they press for recognition, an end to violation. The drawings of Peter Goché (#15) ‘InsideOute’, Samantha Lynch (#16) ‘Shadows and Grafts side’, Rachel Bacon (#23) ‘The Other Orebody’, Serena Smith (#24) ‘Ekphrasis 4’, and Simon Twose, Anastasia Globa, Lawrence Harvey and Jules Moloney (#25) ‘Reef Drawing’ all seek their timely moments in a natural world that itself seeks peace.
Drawings present inequity. They expose damage. They ask questions. They invite, if not demand honest discussion. They precipitate introspection. They summon challenge. They investigate capacity, both personal & political. The drawings of Kate Steenhaur and Maria Sappho (#19) ‘The Making of a Feminist’, Deepani S (#18) ‘Anatomy of a Pogrom’, Alexander Landerman (#17) ‘To_Be_Quiet’, and Han Dai-Yu (#20) ‘Entangled #1’, will not be quiet.
Practitioners may utilize a well-crafted, well-worn, historic and contemporary toolbox of enormous potential—tethered to another, whose ever evolving materials accessibility and inventiveness is almost beyond comprehension. The strength of Deborah Harty’s (#22) ‘Passage’, and Rebecka Holmström’s (#21) ‘Motives’, lies in their unabashed exploration of both classic & contemporary mindset & materials. As a result, they can unceasingly and interchangeably engage in attempting to navigate a plethora of sizes and scales, allowing for the expression and sharing of a full compliment of intimate revelations and awe inspiring visions.
Sculptural drawings delight in the freedom of their third dimensional spaces. The drawings of Steve Fossey (#26) ‘Drawing Breath and Remaining Visible’, Nicole Lenzi (#27) ‘A Break in the Clouds 1.24p.m.’, Oona Wagstaff (#28) ‘Kinetic Soundscape’, and Eleanor Suess (#29) ‘Drawing in Space Light Time’ breathe ingenuity, adventure, vision, barrier breaking—all in the service of exploring new dimensions.
Long ago, after observing his newest graduate student, a teacher asked to walk with her along the river. Decades later his words still reverberate: ‘It does not matter how good you are. What matters is how much better you become. It is your obligation to learn all that you can from me, to add your special self, and to honorably pass it on’. Phil Sawdon’s (#30) ’thematic material’ is one drawing in an unbroken chain of excellence, knowledge & commitment to tomorrow that extends backwards and forwards in time and across all geography. That chain accepts no physical or intellectual boundaries, no barriers to encouragement. Ennui does not exist. Onwards & Upwards____
What roles do materials and tools ‘process’ play in determining the ‘content’ of drawings? What philosophical value do they possess? Beyond momentary catharsis, what importance is longevity in the preservation of drawings? Chosen materials may support grace, stoicism, and grandeur. Their viability lies not in the comfortable or audacious, in the erotic or insensitive. It lies in the integrity and honesty of an artist’s wish to note for self/others anomolies in the human or natural condition. Sometimes they say, ‘pay attention, this is important’.
High above the Sky Garden—seen only by eyes prepared to catch its brief charge, trained to bank the memory for future sharing—a scuttering pony gallops, as light & dark remorselessly change its form.______ It has been a profound pleasure to review three hundred & seventy seven thoughtful, skilled presentations from around the planet. The thirty that were chosen represent the tip of the iceburg. Keep drawing.