Tuesday, 27 April 2010

on writing and drawing

Since childhood, I have had a passion for, and committment to visual art that I have not had for literature. Despite this, my first impulse, usually, is to write, rather than draw, to choose words rather than visual imagery to articulate my thoughts and feelings.
An exception to this was during the time of making the rainbow and volcano drawings, when it was difficult to write at all. Then drawing offered me the means of releasing difficult personal material visually.
Now I find that the words I write are more powerful than the drawings that I make, indeed at present, I am unable to make drawings at all.
Whilst a postgraduate student at Glasgow school of Art, my studio, the first I had ever had for any length of time, was a classroom in a Victorian High School for girls. The room was large, folding glazed doors dividing it from the adjacent room, with a blackboard made of blackened glass, and the original wooden boarded floor. During the last months of my time at the Art School, I began to write on this floor and on the walls in white chalk, words taken from my diaries and sketchbooks. At the time I was more able to write than to make visual art; although I made a good many transparencies, mostly of personal objects, such as items of jewelry, spilt face powder, and pages from letters for example, I found it difficult to assemble discrete pieces of work from them.
The floor texts afforded me the opportunity to write text upon text, to obliterate, to erase, allowed the freedom to experiment whilst using the simplest of drawing and writing instruments. They comprised autobiographical material, questions and responses taken from psychometric tests, the recounting of dreams and diary entries. They had a strong visual presence; despite their ephemeral almost illegible nature, and the fragility of the material from which they were made, they functioned like drawings.
Some years later, whilst playing the chalk line game with Patrick, I discovered the connection between the lines we drew on the paths of my parents garden, and the earlier texts made on the floor of the old school room.
At present, when my self confidence is shaky regarding my status as a visual artist, it is reassuring to look upon the polaroids I made of the floor texts, and to let the realisation that written words can function as drawings begin to find a home in my mind.

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