working drawings

It’s the 26th of March. I walk into fields that have been turned. This marks the beginning.
The rag too caught my eye but unlike the immature fish that the angler returns to the river the rag will keep my eye.

It was hard at the beginning, still is …
reading the news … remembering to breathe … watching ‘at the end of the world’ as people compulsively fouled the nest. And just in case we thought that there was only one story our shiny bits of not-so-smart glass (our mirrors) continue to show us that things for project-humanity are only getting worse … We exist (let’s call it that for now) in a time of constant emergence, but we seem to go nowhere.

I left my place of work at the University on a Tuesday afternoon near the end of March and I’ve been at home on my own, until recently, when the Scottish Government implemented Phase 1 of the easing of restrictions.
I’ve got to know the postman a bit better, a number of the courier drivers too, and I’ve spoken more frequently with those few neighbours whose paths I occasionally cross … I’ve frequently found the sheer volume of messaging-correspondence at times overwhelming and hard to structure into my working time at home.

Living always—on the crest of the present—is precarious, exhausting and, more often than not at the moment, frightening. And in isolation—is the prefix ‘self’ needed?—it is hard to establish any sense of proportion as life oscillates, or more accurately jump-cuts between global catastrophe and the quiet granular days of one’s own solitude.
We usually have some say over our way of living—if we are fortunate to live in a democracy—and I choose to make and study and teach art. But what of the intellect, what of culture at this time?

The idea of the ‘public intellectual’ is not one that flourished in Britain in the way that it did in other European countries after the First World war. Why not? The answer can be found in our education system, devolved or otherwise.
When you deal with words, with numbers, with pictures, with ideas, you are often dealing with dangerous stuff … it matters. Intellect matters; curiosity matters; knowledge matters. Culture, when it is (morally) serious is first and foremost an expression of human dignity.
John Berger was an exception. His essay’s … on art, on drawing … are never far from me. When I was making the things that you can see here I often asked myself the question: ‘What is this for?’ Are these finished works? Who are they for? Are they studies for fabric designs, ‘sketches’ for tapestries or stained glass windows, illustrations for poems, are they to be ‘scaled up’ into paintings? …

It was hard at the beginning, to understand … but they are not finished works, or things to be used for other reasons.
They are ‘working drawings,’ as Berger would understand the term. Drawings which are an autobiographical discovery of an event, of a thing—as opposed to a ‘finished work’ which would be an attempt to construct such an event in itself.
The drawings you see here are records of events, more akin to a journal or diary; drawings that contain within them in however an elusive state, the things I’ve been looking at, hearing, thinking, reading, listening to … while I was making them.

Angels are … Things we share

The last fine art studio project of the semester, Attention is a task we share, you and I was swiftly overtaken by events.
And the studio briefing itself … it’s unlikely I’ll be doing anything like that again anytime soon … if ever.

During the make Angel project I had an important discussion with one of my colleagues: Did we think that we could ‘do’ one of the projects that we set for the students. Was it possible, given our knowledge of the subject, and how would it feel to work in such a way; would it give us any insight into the difficulties that all students face when trying to engage with the requirements of a particular brief and/or thematic subject … these were some of the things we talked about.
A few days later, in the spirit of shared scholarship, that’s exactly what I did. I started work on make Angel (see my earlier post), and my last studio talk was about how I got on.

I began with Albrecht Dürer and Rory McEwen and Ruskin … wove in poets Poliziano, Rainer Marie Rilke and Edward Thomas, Sami ceremonial drums (cognitive maps; shamanism), A.R. Penck, Robert Walser and finished my talk with a warm and gentle photograph, taken in 1976 by Czesław Siegieda, of three angels waiting … for their call during a rehearsal for a nativity play … waiting … for their futures …

How the world has changed since that final image came up on the screen in studio 3 on Monday the 9th March.

I recently heard Angel (1993) by James MacMillan on BBC Radio 3’s ‘Night Tracks’ (Tuesday May 5th). It was performed by John York.
This lullaby was a gift to his daughter Catherine, and it was composed after a Sikh friend told him that according to his religion angels were present in any household where there were young children. The serene miniature MacMillan created was an attempt to evoke this parallel world of heavenly beings. I recall reading in ‘Silence’ (a collection of John Cage’s lectures) of Cage’s wish to be able to record the sound of mushroom spores falling to the floor of the wood … I hear in Angel by MacMillan the sound of dandelion seeds being carried on the wind and gently touching down in fields and gardens.

What is value? — ‘Here I am’

Glitter stars on the kitchen tiles; she smoothes out any bubbles there are in space.

The garden shivers, afflicted; nothing is silent; it had a car-chase scene in it, and detectives.

Dave Hickey.Some Things Are Better Than Others.pdf

make Angel

‘… [T]he unfolding of history gave proof of the law of entropy rather than that of unlimited progress.’
— Simone Weil

‘And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf’s foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass…. As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle. Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies.’
— Ezekiel 1: 6-11

‘From as early as the second millennium B.C. humanity has created artifacts and pictures of winged creatures, messengers; angels. The ferocious and capable creatures described in Ezekiel are far from commonplace in modern depictions of the angelic orders so, what are angels? Who are they? What is their enduring appeal, and why do we still appear to have a need for—representation by—them?

The project briefing will take off on Monday morning at 9.30 from Studio 3 — on the back of a winged human-headed bull (a lamassu) dating from the Neo-Assyrian Period (721-705 B.C.E.) We’ll then ‘walk a sky together’ (after Sweeney Reed) where in flight training will be provided by Vanessa Bell, Trisha Brown, Paul Klee, Sheila Legge, A.R. Penck and others … landing, unscheduled, later in the morning at Nikola Tesla airport in Belgrade. Thereafter, your task is a straightforward one: learn about an object or aspect of the subject that interests you; reflect on it and, make Angel.’ — from the Project Brief

What follows are pictures, and pictures of artworks I made reference to in my introductory talk; pictures too above of my notes. After this there is a list of other references provided in the project brief (under the headings of writing, music, film, radio and web) and all other information (titles of work, artists names, dates, photography credits etc.) may be found in the ‘tags’ at the bottom of the post.

writing:
Walter Benjamin | Theses on the Philosophy of History in ‘Illuminations’ trans. Harry Zohn (New York: Schocken Books 1969)
Adam Harper | Retracing Mark Fisher and Justin Barton’s Eerie Pilgrimage https://frieze.com/article/retracing-mark-fisher-and-justin-bartons-eerie-pilgrimage-on-vanishing-land-hyperdub
Lucy Lippard | Eva Hesse (New York University Press, 1976)
Sheila Legge | I Have Done My Best For You, in ‘Contemporary Poetry and Prose’ (1936)
Rainer Maria Rilke | Sonnets to Orpheus | translated from the German by Christiane Marks (Open Letter, 2019),
Duino Elegies (The Hogarth Press, 1942) & Don Paterson | Orpheus: A version of Rilke’s ‘Die Sonette an Orpheus’ (Faber and Faber, 2006)
Virginia Woolf | The Waves (First published by Hogarth Press, 1931;  Vintage, 2000)
Simone Weil | Gravity and Grace (Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1952)

music:
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart | Requiem in D Minor, K. 626 | Bach Choir & Orchestra of the Netherlands, conducted by Pieter Jan Leusink; live recording made on 28th of February 2014 at the Royal Concertgebouw Amsterdam. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBkr7JF1ur4
Portishead | Roads | with New York Philharmonic Orchestra July 24, 1997 Roseland Ballroom, New York City https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52bAsZI9xm8 & Live at Glastonbury 2013 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h47sSXH93P4
Mura Masa | No hope Generation | ‘R.Y.C.’ (Polydor, 2020) https://www.muramasa.me/
Cocteau Twins | Treasure Hiding |  ‘Milk & Kisses’ 1995 Mercury Records Limited https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=za5r35RSDDM (Remastered 2006) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyRknf-mZbg
David Sylvian (& Ryuichi Sakamoto) Heartbeat (Full EP): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2ITB3C3mlU & When Poets Dreamed Of Angels: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PUNS-yjc8k

film:
Stan Brakhage | The Text of Light (1974): http://www.ubu.com/film/brakhage_light.html
Werner Herzog | Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1997) complete film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBRJn69L9ao
Mike Stubbs | Zero (2000) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkCSzOSbgYs
Andrei Tarkovsky | Solaris (1972), Stalker (1979) … and everything else.
Wim Wenders | Der Himmel über Berlin (Heaven Over Berlin) or Wings of Desire (1987) Official trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlkdLLqBux0

radio:
Angels | Melvyn Bragg discusses Angels with Martin Palmer, theologian and Director of the International Consultancy on Religion, Education and Culture; Valery Rees, Renaissance Scholar at the School of Economic Science; John Haldane, Professor of Philosophy, University of St Andrews. (First broadcast on 24 March, 2005)
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p003k9gf
Nadim Ednan-Laperouse | A Bright Yellow Light https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000cmsf

web:
Winged Victory of Samothracehttp://musee.louvre.fr/oal/victoiredesamothrace/victoiredesamothrace_acc_en.html
The Fall of Rebel Angels (by Pieter Bruegel the Elder): https://artsandculture.google.com/exhibit/the-fall-of-the-rebel-angels/lQLy-oPTgMeLKg
Angels and Archangels: https://artsandculture.google.com/exhibit/angels-and-archangels/RwLyJpsRM_hUIw
Gian Lorenzo Bernini: https://artsandculture.google.com/usergallery/NgKy_gyjuZrqJQ

What is colour — without Language?

‘Like an auditorium built by the Bauhaus on the edge of a park, all green and green swans.
Green swans, she said.’
—Quinn Latimer


—Jude Walton, The return of Nadja-Léona

‘The title of this project has been adapted from a poem by the French writer Jean Follain. The project started out life in Follain’s use of language—his sense of the miniature, the modesty of his subjects, and the relationship of his poems to memory. These continue to influence its overall scope. By starting out from one of the texts selected for you to study we would like you to explore the subject of colour and make an artwork from your discoveries.’ (from the Project Brief)


The writers
Baudelaire, Charles A Carrion | ‘Selected Poems of Charles Baudelaire’ translated by Geoffrey Wagner (NY: Grove Press, 1974)
Bishop, Elizabeth Sandpiper | ‘Poems’ (Chatto & Windus, 2011)
Brecht, Bertolt On Thinking About Hell | ‘Poems 1913–1956’ this poem translated by Nicholas Jacobs (Methuen, 1976)
Connolly, Geraldine The Summer I Was Sixteen | in ‘Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry’ (Random House, 2013)
Follain, Jean In This Light, The Key & Works | ‘From Elsewhere’ translated by Ciaran Carson (The Gallery Press, 2014)
Glenday, John A Difficult Colour | ‘The Apple Ghost’ (Peterloo Poets, 1989)
Houellebecq, Michel Veroniqué & Grey House | ‘Unreconciled: Poems 1991-2013’ translated by Gavin Bowd (William Heinemann, 2017)
Longley, Michael Telling Yellow | ‘Angel Hill’ (Cape Poetry, 2017)
Oliver, Mary Blue Horses | ‘Blue Horses’ (Penguin, 2014)
Pizarnik, Alejandra le temps tombant … | ‘The Galloping Hour: French Poems’ translated by Patricio Ferrari & Forrest Gander (New Directions, 2018)
Ponge, Francis The Umbels & The Magnolia | ‘Unfinished Ode to Mud’ translated by Beverley Bie Brahic (CB Editions, 2008)
Sappho Fragment 6, 34, 54, 151 and 152 | ‘If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho’ translated by Anne Carson (Virago, 2002)
Södergran, Edith The Colours’ Longing & Violet Twilights | ‘Love & Solitude: Selected Poems 1916-1923’ (Seattle: Fjord Press, 1992) & ‘Dikter’ both translated by Stina Katchadourian (Helsinki: Holger Schildts Förlagsaktiebolag, 1916)
Woolf, Virginia Thursday 4 October 1934 | ‘The Diary of Virginia Woolf’ Vol. 4/1931-1935 (The Hogarth Press,1982)

Reading | Resources:
Literature
Marguerite Duras, Albert of the Capitals (Rough Draft) Translated by Linda Coverdale: ‘Wartime Notebooks’—the Pink Marbled Notebook—in The Lover, Wartime Notebooks, Practicalities (Everyman’s library, 2018)
Derek Jarman, Chroma: A Book of Colour (Century, 1994)
Quinn Latimer, Like A Woman: Essays, Readings, Poems (Sternberg Press, 2017)
Maggie Nelson, Bluets (Jonathan Cape, 2009)
Mary Oliver, an interview with Krista Tippet first broadcast as an edited extract on Radio 4’s ’Short Cuts’ programme by Josie Long. Find the full interview here: https://onbeing.org/programs/mary-oliver-listening-to-the-world-jan2019/

Visual Art
Stan Brakhage, The Text of Light (1974): ubu.com/film/brakhage.html
Aleks Danko, Here we turn everything into fun to kill time, 2003 & No! No! No! No More Museum of Créche Art – cut the boredom (after Bruce Nauman), 2019 https://suttongallery.com.au/artists/aleks-danko/
Graham Fagen, Our Shared, Common, Private Space, 2011 & Scheme for Consciousness, 2014: http://www.grahamfagen.com/works/year/2011
Derek Jarman, Blue (1993) https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/jarman-blue-t14555
Yves Klein, IKB 79 (1959) https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/klein-ikb-79-t01513
Ana Mendieta, Selected Film Works (1972-1981): http://www.ubu.com/film/mendieta_selected.html
Carolee Schneeman, Interior Scroll (1975): https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/schneemann-interior-scroll-p13282
Carolee Schneeman & Mary Beatty, Interior Scroll – The Cave (1975 – 1979): http://www.ubu.com/film/schneemann_interior.html
‘When Home Won’t Let You Stay’: https://www.icaboston.org/exhibitions/when-home-won%E2%80%99t-let-you-stay-migration-through-contemporary-art

What is Sculpture? | To appear … … … radiant?


Alice Aycock, Maze: Aerial view (1972) black and white photograph.

Eight collections of ‘sculptural material’ — artists (a few examples of their work), historical and contemporary PDF documents of artist’s statements, press releases, interviews, web and library references — that may be of interest in relation to this years General Foundation fine art project, What is Sculpture?

1—’Chatter’
Aleks Danko, Wait … I think this is where I lost my hula-hoop (2017)

2—’This was at hand’
A.R. Penck, Standart – Modell (1972-73), Definition of Similarity (1970-71) and Untitled (1966)

3—Late works 1981-85
Ana Mendieta:
http://www.galerielelong.com/exhibitions/ana-mendieta3

4—Living and working in Scotland

Claire Barclay, Fault on the right side (2007)
https://www.clairebarclay.net/


Karla Black, Vanity Matters (2009)
https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/black-vanity-matters-t13282
Kate McLeod (DJCAD Staff), Something Else (2014)
https://sculptors.org.uk/artists/kate-mcleod
Cathy Wilkes, Untitled (2012)
https://www.themoderninstitute.com/artists/cathy-wilkes

5—Jupiter Artland, West Lothian, Scotland.

Phyllida Barlow, Quarry—‘Two towering cement and steel columns and a mountainous flight of ruined stairs.’


Christian Boltanski, Animitas—‘Hundreds of small Japanese bells attached to long stems planted in the ground. The bells chiming to the wind let out the ‘music of souls’ and reproduce the map of the stars on the night Boltanski was born.’


Ian Hamilton Finlay, Only Connect—‘Northumbrian Limestone: arched bridge between two milestones each inscribed with the closing words of ‘Howards End’ by E.M. Forster.’ And, Xth Muse—‘Portland stone head on plinth. Sappho, the tenth muse, is the poetess of erotic lyricism and the symbol of love and beauty.’


Anya Gallaccio, The Light Pours Out Of Me—‘An underground chamber of amethyst surrounded by obsidian in its natural state, protected by gold barbed wire.’

6—A survey
Revolution in the Making: Abstract Sculpture by Women, 1947–2016.
An exhibition by Hauser Wirth & Schimmel, Los Angeles, 2016.
The Artists: Magdalena Abakanowicz, Ruth Asawa, Phyllida Barlow, Lynda Benglis, Karla Black, Lee Bontecou, Louise Bourgeois, Heidi Bucher, Abigail De Ville, Claire Falkenstein, Gego, Isa Genzken, Sonia Gomes, Francoise Grossen, Eva Hesse, Sheila Hicks, Cristina Iglesias, Rachel Khedoori, Yayoi Kusama, Liz Larner, Anna Maria Maiolina, Marisa Merz, Senga Nengudi, Louise Nevelson, Lygia Pape, Mira Schendel, Lara Schnitger, Shinique Smith, Jessica Stockholder, Michellle Stuart, Kaari Upson, Ursula Von Rydingsvard, Hannah Wilke, Jackie Windsor.

7—Documents
phyllida-barlow-vincent-fecteau.pdf
Francis Alÿs A to Z.pdf
Aleks Danko Wait…I think this is where I lost my hula-hoop_2017-2.pdf
Claes Oldenburg.pdf

8—Frieze Magazine
https://frieze.com/article/natascha-suder-happelmann-will-represent-germany-2019-venice-biennale
https://frieze.com/article/mrinalini-mukherjees-garden-earthly-delights
https://frieze.com/article/olga-jevrics-pioneering-experiments-abstraction-are-shown-london-first-time
https://frieze.com/article/i-want-liberate-full-life-interview-roger-hiorns

What is Drawing? | project reference and my notes

‘It’s not something we’re usually given to think about: What is it to draw? To make a drawing? To draw some thing, and to do so in some place. John Berger, in an essay in ‘Bento’s Sketchbook’ wrote: ‘We who draw do so not only to make something observed visible to others, but also to accompany something invisible to its incalculable destination.’ What do you think he meant?

The aim of this project is to encourage you to reflect on your current understanding and experience of drawing and to reconsider what drawing might be, as an activity in its own right, as well as what it might be used for.’

‘By starting out from one of the examples listed below we would like you to study and make a drawing from your discoveries.’—from the Project Brief: Albrecht Dürer, The Large Turf (1503); watercolour with body colour on paper | George Seurat, Femmes Avec Deux Filletes (1882-84); conté on paper | Piet Mondrian, Blossoming Apple Tree (1912); oil on canvas | Edvard Munch, Cabbage Field (1915); oil on canvas | Emma Kunz, Work no. 020 (1939); pencil, crayon and oil colour on paper | Mel Bochner, Wrap: Portrait of Eva Hesse (1966); pen & ink on graph paper | Ray Johnson, Nothing (1927-1995) | Mike Parr, 12 Untitled Self Portraits (1990); drypoint on paper | Janine Antoni, Butterfly Kisses (1996-99); Cover Girl Thick Lash mascara on paper | Alison Watt, Phantom (2008); oil on canvas | Joyce Cairns, Conversations with a Kestrel (2018); oil on board