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Thursday, 28 February 2019

20'000 Thoughts

A friend once told me that we have an estimated 20'000 thoughts a day. A search online and you will discover there is much debate around the exact number, it ranges from 12'000 to 80'000. What amazes me about this is not the scale of the number itself, but the idea that thoughts can be captured, measured and neatly summed up like this, in a series of numbers.

In my own way I too am attempting to capture events in our minds, my method though is drawing. I see the mind as an almost palpable landscape that is complex, shifting with its own forms, rhythms, texture, lines. I have previously used music and hypnosis to evoke and draw different mental states, or simply tuning in to and noticing the shape of my mind as it changes in response to the ebb and flow of life. I'm trying to make visible sensations, patterns of thought and feeling, from the darkest times to the euphoric.

The concept of 20'000 thoughts keeps returning to me as I continue to work on two new large scale drawings made up of thousands of tiny, time consuming, delicate ink lines, I ponder the amount of thoughts woven into them as I have drawn, the memories, ideas, worries, day dreams...

The largest of the two drawings in progress is black ink on tissue paper, the smaller drawing is paint, pastel and gold ink on found packaging paper. Both surfaces are crumpled, creased and fragile. The ink lines I make trace and reveal these very points of fragility, the parts that disrupt the smooth skin of paper, they could break or the surface could become swallowed by these marks. While making these drawings  I have felt at times like I am healing the creases, taking care of the parts on the verge of breaking with a steady hand, tiny brush and delicate ink, like a mother applying cream to a cut knee. But in doing so my intention is not to erase but to highlight them, telling their story and making them permanent.

The surface of paper captivates me, it's like a living thing, breathing in the breeze, absorbing,  changing, sculptural, there are familiar patterns to the crumples and folds, like arteries, winter branches, veins in rock. There is an undeniable visual connectedness to things bodily and the natural world we inhabit, from a microscopic cell to an image of land from space, they mirror one another. Surely our minds, not the 'stuff' of neurones and brain matter, but the thoughts and feelings, sadness, joy, clusters of tension, moments of release, bursts of determination, and of falling, if given a shape would reflect these outer, natural forms too? Or perhaps this imagery is a form we recognise and can read, full of metaphor and poetry and that is why I am drawn to it as a way of articulating the inner?

There is another way in which these drawings connect to the outer for me. If we were to give our times, our collective consciousness, a form, it would be a fragile one, an unsteady surface with periodic surges of darkness. And yet there would be millions of lines forged across this plane, that continue, as we continue. Our instinct to survive is obvious, even if our actions contradict this. Another prevailing instinct (or perhaps it is the same one?) from cave to five year old with crayons at the kitchen table, is to make a mark, to say I am here, perhaps now more loudly than ever?

Work in progress, gold ink, acrylic paint and pastel on found paper.

I have been experimenting with the drawing above, candle light and film, watch the film clip here

Work in progress, black ink on approximately 3 metres of acid free tissue paper

More images of these drawings can be seen here

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