Search This Blog


Thursday, 28 May 2015

Tracing PAPER Exhibition - Preview 4th of June

As part of this group exhibition I will be showing three new 'metronome drawings' and carrying out a live drawing performance in collaboration with musician David Birchall (11th of May 3pm). For the past six months myself and eight other artists have been mentored by PAPER gallery through a series of group crits, and this exhibition brings together some of the work we have made during that time.

The 'metronome drawings' have grown out of my drawings made in response to sound and whilst under hypnosis, and are a new way of working that further explores my preoccupation with drawing as an experience - a place to inhabit.

Focusing on the sound of a ticking metronome I begin making marks in time with the frantic or steady pace, depending on what I have pre-set the metronome to do. I quickly become locked into the rhythm, absorbed. However as the drawing grows the sound seems to recede from my consciousness, becoming a semi hidden framework for the drawing to take place within. Forms emerge and recede out of the build up of lines, decisions are made about what to pull out and what to leave behind. These drawings are done in one sitting, usually with several drawings produced one after the other. The decision to stop an individual drawing comes when I feel enough of the story has emerged, to keep going would kill it (or say to much). Occasionally it is the metronome winding down that forces me to a halt, when I have become totally lost in the drawing. The challenge is to find the balance between conscious criticism and (less conscious) abandon.

'Metronome #4', 2015, white gel pen on black paper, 21x29.5cm.

'Metronome #3, 2015, white gel pen on black paper, 21 x 29.5cm.

'Metronome #5', 2015, pen on paper, 28x36cm.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Tracing PAPER

Detail 'Corner Drawing 2' 2014 Charcoal and eraser on paper

I am very pleased to have been selected as one of ten artists to be mentored by PAPER Gallery in Manchester. The scheme is called Tracing PAPER and will take place over the next six months ending in a group show at the gallery. Here is some more information about myself and the other artists involved

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Open Studio 11th - 14th of September

Preview: Thursday: 11th September 2014 6–8pm
Open Studio Dates: 11th September–14th September 12–5pm
50-52 Kirkmanshulme Lane Longsight M124WA

Sara Davies: My work explores the experience of being Anglo-Nordic in the north of England through photographic self-staging. I investigate how migrants in diaspora establish a sense of belonging through symbolic imagery and collective myth. In my work the traditional Nordic red croft, symbolic of an ideal home, is haunting. Re-modelled from my new position in the UK, its meaning is shifting.

Naomi Kendrick has developed different drawing processes to compliment or provoke different states of mind; drawing alone, in response to music and through drawing based performance. This is a chance to see how the studio space itself has begun to influence the states of mind journeyed through, and the drawings left behind.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Drawing as Experience

'Kulning 5' 2014 Naomi Kendrick
photo by Andrew Brooks

I have recently returned from Marina Abramovic's 512 hours at the Serpentine gallery. There I encountered; people, a few objects, time and minimal direction as to what I should do, given with the lightest touch. Somehow these things pulled together to provide a profound experience, something wordless that happened in my mind, and that was visible in the faces of other visitors. Something I will never forget.

If the role of art is to hold a mirror up to us all, then for me, with 512 hours and The Artist is Present (2010) Abramovic has done this perfectly. And the accounts of those who disliked the work seem to highlight this, just as much as the praise.
Soon after emerging from 512 hours I found myself in the 2014 portrait award exhibition in the National portrait gallery. Slightly overwhelmed, I watched great crowds of people jostling to get into position, where they could best stand and look directly into the eyes of a painted person. I was struck by how strong that urge to look at others was and how through that urgent gaze, we are attempting to understand more about ourselves. The traditional painted portrait is a very literal example of course, but I feel that ultimately the same exchange is sought when we encounter all art, whether we are sharing in the artists humor, politics or heartache or simply marveling in their ability to manipulate paint. Abramovic has stripped away and distilled to leave a nugget, a simple and direct connection between one another, and with ourselves.

'Untitled' 2014 Naomi Kendrick
photo by Andrew Brooks

Through my work, I attempt to create something that offers a meaningful experience for the audience, and for myself. In recent years drawing, alone and through participatory performances, has felt like the right way for me to reach that point, but why? I think the answer to this connects to 'Abramovic's nugget', in one way it is about finding the most direct means of communication. Drawing; from mind, to hand, to mark is perhaps the most immediate of all art forms, there is something instinctive about it. Also, as a process it can be all encompassing, transporting. I feel it can get to, and articulate, the nitty gritty of what it is to be human. I also love how drawing looks, I am addicted to the possibilities of the mark.

Detail of 'Untitled' 2014 Naomi Kendrick
photo by Andrew Brooks
see full image

I have been drawing as long as I can remember, from dreamily drawing as a child lying in sunlight, to various cold studios, pushing the material or myself to extremes. I have drawn; without using my sight, for extensive periods, in response to sound and in front of live audiences. These drawing processes induce anxiety, joy and many more states of mind, all of which make their way out onto the page. More recently I have been attempting to provoke and harness these states of mind without being 'carried there' exclusively by music or the adrenalin of a performance. I forget when, but the idea of drawing an object in front of me has disappeared for now, its as if I am going back to the dream drawings I made as a child in that patch of light....At the start of each drawing I ready myself, take a deep breath and then jump, out into the unknown. I see drawing as a place to go to, a space to be in. There I think and feel things that otherwise may go unnoticed, test myself, and try to test what drawing can be.

Drawing in Progress (Day One) 
'Corner Drawing 1' 2014 Naomi Kendrick

Drawing in Progress (Day Two) 
'Corner Drawing 1' 2014 Naomi Kendrick

There are others who have taken similar journeys through their drawing. Henri Michaux began as a writer and his drawings and paintings grew out of a frustration with the limitations of the written language; his work was an attempt to discover a new 'universal language', one that enabled him to express himself fully. He pushed his mind, testing it to great extremes using the drug mescaline. At first his written words became marks almost like calligraphy, as he continued to draw and observe his states of mind the marks evolved, sometimes becoming reminiscent of pulsating crowds of organisms under a microscope. This was his mind on the page, yet there is something familiar about the forms he brought into being.

Mescaline Drawing c. 1956-1958 Henri Michaux

Robert Morris created a series of hundreds of 'Blind Time Drawings' between 1973 and 2000 in which he drew blindfolded. Many of them were self imposed challenges around the act of mark making. Morris meticulously documented the action, timing and material for every drawing for example for 'Blind Time 1' 1973 he wrote 'with the eyes closed an attempt is made to tape out and blacken a square figure within an estimated time lapse of 5 minutes. Time stimation error: 5 seconds.'

Blind Time 1 1973 Robert Morris

This rather clinical method shifted into something more personal over time, and towards the end of the series in 1999 Morris made 'Blind Time V. Melancholia'. Through this drawing about the death of his father Morris almost physically relives an intense emotional experience '...I begin at the bottom of the page pressing upward with the strength I remember exerting in lifting his frail body from the bedroom floor where he had fallen...'

Blind Time V. Melancholia 1999 Robert Morris

Michaux and Morris seem to have inhabited drawing fully, their drawings are both evidence of a place visited, and the means of which to get there. I realise now that through my own various drawing processes I have been aiming to get to this point of in-habitation, and will continue to do so. Drawing is my first language, I know it is not the only way, but at some point I always return to it. Michaux himself best explains why...
'I paint just as I write. To discover, to rediscover myself, to find what is truly mine, that which, unbeknown to me, has always belonged to me. To experience at once the surprise of it and the pleasure of recognising it. To bring forth or bear witness to the appearance of a certain vagueness, a certain aura, where others would, or do, see fullness.

To render an impression of 'presence' everywhere, to reveal (and first and foremost to myself) the tangles, the chaotic movement, the extreme liveliness of the 'I know not what' which stirs in my remotest being and seeks a foothold on the shore.'

Henri Michaux 1959

'The Machine' 2014 Naomi Kendrick
photo by Andrew Brooks

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Sara's Forest

Detail of 'Sara's Forest' click here for the full drawing.

The Drawing 'Sara's Forest' happened by accident.

This is not unusual, I never know at the start of a drawing what will emerge. As I draw I attempt to harness different emotional states and sensations - these are the things that drive each mark. First I create an environment that provokes these states, either by filling the room with live music, or drawing alone in my studio, in silence. In both instances there is an intense internal battle and an odd set of rules I have given myself in order to stay focused, listen, and allow the drawing to unfold.

Each is a conversation between mind and mark, as I balance letting go and watching the line make it's way, with pulling forms, or a certain atmosphere into being. Created in this unpredictable way, the resulting drawings vary from an explosion of marks hovering on the surface of an enormous piece of paper, defiantly abstract, to smaller almost landscapes, that hint at the real, like half remembered dreams.

Thoughts inevitably invade as I am drawing, when it is just the 'noise' such as worries, TV I have watched, plans for tomorrow, I try to bat these away. This is all surface and I want to excavate further. Things come out in the drawings and it is only afterwards I realise their importance. 'Sara's Forest' grew out of a thought, a sensation really that I can only describe as an imagined sound, combined with a sharp fleeting ache for something.

Sara Davis is an artist and my neighbour; gradually we have got to know each other through snatches of conversation, while our sons play around us. Sara's work explores the Scandinavian migrant experience in the North West of England using photography, installation, performance, writing and time based imagery. Through an evocative piece of writing on Sara's blog I learned of 'Kulning' a way of making sounds 'situated somewhere between singing, calling and crying'. These sounds were made by herds women as far back as the middle ages, deep in the forests of Sweden as a way of calling their herd, warning off predators and communicating with other herds women in the forest.

Detail of 'Sara's Forest' click here for the full drawing

After reading Sara's blog I had a reoccurring desire to know what that sound was like, I tried to imagine it for weeks.

I am still unsure as to exactly why the imagining of that sound stayed with me so much. Perhaps it is to do with the thoughts Sara's work has raised in me generally, which include my idea of home, of distance, of longing for something that may not exist anymore, or have ever done. It is difficult to ignore that my parents home of 35 years is being demolished as I write this. I have also become a mother recently (something Sara has witnessed me growing accustomed to over the past year) which seems to have solidified my position here, living in Manchester, as opposed to where my family are, in Portsmouth. It feels strange to plant such deep roots, even after being here for most of my adult life.

Could it be about valuing Sara's friendship? Do I imagine it is us, and other women, calling to one another from our insular posts across the forest? Or simply the tantalising idea of one sound that can be 'singing, calling and crying' words that can mean so many different things, distress, joy, function, something primal.

And so with these thoughts seemingly beneath the surface, I drew one day. And the drawing that emerged surprised me by being quite representational. It looked like the beginning of a story.

'Kulning' doesn't happen anymore, not in it's original context anyway, it is a part of history revived on CD or by people keeping traditions alive at festivals. To me it will remain magical; never to be known in it's original form. And yet from the forest Sara drove through, to Manchester and her work, to me and out into my drawing, it emerges.

Sara came and saw the drawing 'Sara's Forest' and asked me to write this post, as she was interested in the journey her work had taken through to my own. She also bought a CD of 'Kulning' for me to hear for the first time. It was a poignant moment, the sound of 'Kulning' is powerful, from the deep, from the past, it is animal and it is us. Thinking of it still makes me ache for something I have never known, but will continue to draw.

Next, inevitably, I will fill my studio with the sound of 'Kulning', draw and see what comes. To be continued...

Drawn to the Beat at Victoria Baths 26th of April 2014

Photography by Andrew Brooks

Drawn to the Beat was a participatory immersive work, designed to give people an intensive experience of listening and responding to music. The participants were led onto an enormous expanse of paper, where over the course of the evening, they were left to draw in response to both live and recorded music (via silent disco). At the end of the night, an enormous shared drawing remained; each mark a record of feelings and sensations evoked by the music.

Photography by Andrew Brooks

My role was to carefully create the right environment, one that enabled people to really listen, and to be comfortable responding through drawing. This environment encompassed many things, from the building and time of day to my relationship with the musicians. And from each song in the silent disco to every word I chose to use in my introduction.

Drawn to the Beat has always taken place in unique spaces (this was my third version). It began in the iconic Manchester music venue Band on the Wall (2011) followed by Fabrica Gallery in Brighton, which is housed in a former church (2011). It was fantastic to be able to use one of the empty swimming pools at Victoria Baths, it is a stunning space and I was given great freedom by Alison and the Baths staff.

Photography by Andrew Brooks

I particularly wanted to develop the live music aspect of Drawn to the Beat and the theatre of how it was presented. The space lent itself well to both. The night began with my brief introduction to listening, including a violin solo by Dan Bridgwood-Hill. Participants then began to listen and draw, at first in response to a selection of music via a silent disco. Immediately afterwards Najia Bagi sang a version of the song 'I'll be seeing you'. Najia sings heartbreaking songs beautifully and I wanted that impact to be felt as much as possible. The acoustics of the space meant she did not need any equipment and could just walk into the pool, amongst surprised participants and start to sing. And as I had hoped, she brought the space to a standstill.

Photograph from participants phone

After a short break came 'Dark Pools of Liquidity'. In the centre of the pool at dusk, and into darkness their semi improvised music took the participants somewhere else entirely. It is impossible to describe how they sounded; I can only say that the space was transformed by it, everyone was entranced and everyone was really listening.

Photography by Andrew Brooks

Photography by Andrew Brooks

Drawn to the Beat was part of Un-Rest 'How You Move Is Who You Are!' 10 days of installations and events at Victoria Baths 24th of April - 4th of May 2014 curated by Alison Kershaw.

Musicians; Najia Bagi and 'Dark Pools of Liquidity' (Dan Bridgwood-Hill, Ed Troup, Ian Breen, Ed Rowley Stevens and Charlotte Holroyd)

See a time lapse film of Drawn to the Beat here
More of Andrew Brooks' photographs of the night here
Previous Drawn to the Beats on this blog

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Drawings in response to improvised sound

Here are a few drawings, most made in response to improvised sound, which is something I have been exploring for a few years now (music provided by Najia Bagi, Dan Bridgwood-Hill and David Birchall). The exception 'MAP 1' was a departure, an attempt to draw in a similar heightened state as the music enables me to do, but in silence. MAP 1 was a feat of endurance taking 6 hours (in one day) to complete with a short break - my 'rule' had been to simply follow the line until I felt I had finished the drawing.

MAP 1 (Silent), charcoal on paper, 262 x 235 cm, 2012 (detail)