After numerous tests and false starts I’ve decided to use coloured ink to draw the text for my upcoming Memory Festival installation at the Roundhouse. As usual, I muddy the ink to create tertiary colours; I’m more comfortable with indeterminacy.
The text fragments, taken for the other Memory Festival projects, will be torn out of the larger sheets of rice paper, and pasted to the walls of the exhibition space at the Roundhouse. I don’t intend the text to produce specific meanings––they are almost meaningful, almost meaningless.
I started my Burnaby Art Gallery installation today. I’m drawing with powdered graphite directly on the gallery walls, in and around a selection of portrait works on paper from the collection. Although I’ve done a great deal of advance planning, many of the decisions I need to make in the here-and-now were impossible to anticipate. This process is both nerve-wracking and stimulating.
When I use walls as a drawing surface I’m interested in working with and against the conventions of representational drawing. There are a number of ways to suggest the illusion of depth on a flat surface: linear perspective, overlapping shapes, spatial zones, diminishing scale and atmospheric perspective.
The last two of these are of particular interest to me. With related images (such as faces) whatever is larger is usually considered closer (and more significant). As objects recede into the distance they appear to grow smaller, they lose contrast and their edges soften.
These powdered graphite drawings are all low contrast, with soft edges, but the sizes range, in this case from approximately 5″ to 2′. How do we make sense of these drawings? Does the wall suggest a continuous picture plane? Do the images advance and recede?
How do I instantly know whether a drawing is good or bad? Sometimes I feel it in the process itself. The marks may be too emphatic, when I want provisionality.
Some days my drawing hand feels leaden; the instantaneous connection between eye, brain and hand is missing.
These powdered graphite drawing are highly susceptible to failure. In past projects I thought it necessary to include every drawing produced, whether bad or good.
The drawings I’m working on now are preparation for my installation at the the Burnaby Art Gallery at the end of June. They’re practice drawings so when I begin to draw on the walls of the gallery I have confidence, stamina and speed. This archive of images will also help with scale and placement. So I need my best drawings to inspire and give me courage during the installation—a process very much like a performance.