Search This Blog

Loading...

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.

https://www.flickr.com//photos/multisensory/sets/72157644377707779/show/with/14057310857/

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

Friday, 11 April 2014

Acts for Drawn to the Beat at Victoria Baths 26th of April

I can now confirm the acts who will be performing at Drawn to the Beat, but first a reminder of what to expect. I am inviting people to share in an immersive participatory performance drawing event. We will fill one of the empty swimming pools with an enormous drawing, made in response to listening to live and recorded music including a silent disco.

For more information and to get your ticket follow this link https://www.facebook.com/events/211151589091325/

And for a look at Drawn to the Beat at Band on the Wall in Manchester and at Fabrica Gallery in Brighton follow this link http://deadrabbit-ablog.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Drawn%20to%20the%20Beat

I am very pleased to introduce the following incredibly talented musicians who, if the rehearsals are anything to go by, will be transporting the participants to truly wonderful and surprising places on the night!


 Firstly the incredibly talented musician and sound artist Najia Bagi!

“Ethereal vocals” – John Fordham, The Guardian
A self-professed fan of soul, jazz and motown, Bagi’s work is rich, classically influenced and driven by the ever-popular topic of love and loss. With keys set to quiver and her tumble-down voice primed to captivate, Bagi half recalls a heartbroken Regina Spektor – if the latter were better versed in, say, Beethoven ‘s sonatas and less taken with flights of whimsy.[sic] Magazine

Najia Bagi is a musician based in Manchester. She has written, produced and performed with several acts over the past few years including To Sophia, The Ground, The Electronic Exchange, Beats & Pieces Big Band and most recently, W E I G H T with Duncan Meadows of Marconi Union. Najia also works as a sound artist, most recently working with families at Manchester Art Gallery and Tate Liverpool. FB: https://www.facebook.com/Najia.Bagi


 
AND... our grand finale, formed especially for Drawn to the Beat at Victoria Baths the truly amazing 'Dark Pools Of Liquidity' - A new musical quartet bringing together regular collaborators Dan Bridgwood-Hill http://dbhmusic.wordpress.com/ Ed Troup, Ian Breen and Charlotte Holroyd who have had a hand in a variety of excellent Manchester bands over the years such as NASDAQ, PLANK!, Borland, Claw The Thin Ice, Wode, Gold Blend and Day For Airstrikes. The group have prepared a largely improvised piece especially for the event, which will use guitars, keyboards, percussion, violin, saxophone and flute to make sounds that may drift from swampy psychedelia to something more influenced by jazz or folk.

I really cant wait! Hope to see you there.
#DrawnToTheBeat

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Hello!

Feb Baby Art Club 2014

Well, it's been a while! A year has past and I am now a proud mum. I am just starting to get back into the swing of things with work, here is a picture of myself and Musician Najia Bagi with whom I run Baby Art Club at Manchester Art Gallery. Prior to my maternity leave I had been doing Baby art Club for a while, I really enjoy it as I am essentially commissioned to create different temporary multi sensory installations. Najia then comes up with an amazing sound element to complete the experience. This is what the babies, who are of course very multi sensory focused themselves, get to explore each time! For more on my return to baby art club follow this link http://studiosketchbook.wordpress.com/2014/02/15/baby-im-back/
Its Back!

Drawn to the Beat at Fabrica Gallery, Brighton, 2011.
Drawn to the Beat at Band on the Wall, Manchester, 2011.

I am really pleased to announce that I will be doing a third version of my participatory event 'Drawn to the Beat' at Victoria Baths in Manchester on the 26th of April, and it looks to be the most ambitious one yet so I really hope you can join us on the night (see below for more info)

'Join us with artist Naomi Kendrick to share in an immersive participatory performance drawing event, filling one of the empty swimming pools with an enormous expressive drawing. We will be recording visually our physical experience of listening and responding to music including some live acoustic as well as recorded music via a silent disco.

Drawn To The Beat with artist Naomi Kendrick is part of UN-REST a 10 day long exhibition and series of events 24/4 - 4/5 2014 where contemporary artists explore physical expression in sub-cultures and dance phenomena.'

the project is supported by Arts council England and Victoria Baths


tickets £5 + booking fee www.victoriabaths.eventbrite.co.uk

To read about my two previous Drawn to the Beats follow this link http://deadrabbit-ablog.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Drawn%20to%20the%20Beat

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Goodbye for now!


 I will be taking some time out from this blog and a few other things, as I am going to have a baby next month and imagine i'll be pretty busy!

To mark my last performance for a while David Birchall, Dan Bridgwood Hill (DBH) and I performed for a few friends last Saturday in Longsight, Manchester. It was a really lovely evening to pause on. Here are a selection of photos from the night courtesy of Andrew Brooks, to see all click here http://www.flickr.com/photos/multisensory/sets/72157632696773978/

Gemma Lacey has written a great post about the night which includes her own drawings of the performance http://gemmalacey.wordpress.com/2013/03/04/drawing-to-music-thats-made-to-drawing/#