‘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 abroad 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.

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 frequently asked myself the following questions: ‘What is this for?’ Is it a finished work? Who is it for? Is it a study for a fabric design; a ‘sketch’ for a tapestry or stained glass window; an illustration to a poem or a book jacket; is it an ‘instruction’ for a performance; is it to be ‘scaled up’ into a painting, or presented outdoors on a billboard …?

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.

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

Untitled|eight eighteen – ‘My Mother’

Ghias Aljundi
John Berryman, Homage to Mistress Bradstreet, in ‘Selected Poems 1938-1968’ (Faber, 1972)
bicycles
clay plant pots
Alastair Cook (Cricketer)
Fil D’Argent, Fil D’Or (Pierre Danican Philidor 1681-1731 & Michel Pignolet de Montéclair 1667-1737: six suites for two traversos: Outhere Music, 2015)

Robert Graves, Selected Poems, edited by Michael Longley (Faber, 2013)
Grid Iron Theatre Company, South Bend, written by Martin McCormick (2018)
handerchief’s (Alec Finlay, a feather in weather)
wooden clothes pegs