Wednesday, December 11, 2019

International Drawing Dialogue Phase 3 - 2019-20 (Second Stage)

The second of the three-stage drawing dialogue project draws to a close. Only one stage remains, with the drawings making the final exchange before heading off to the exhibition venue(s).

For this stage I was responding to drawings initiated by Andrea Thoma in the UK. Once Andrea's drawings arrived I first laid them out under a stack of other work in order for them to have some time to settle down and to unroll properly after their journey from the UK to Vietnam in a cardboard tube.

After giving them some time to settle down I took them out and spent some time looking at them. As the sculptor Philip King once said (paraphrasing here) "looking tells you more than if you think about it" (1:00), its about trying to 'feel' or 'sense' what an appropriate response to the work would be.

Overall, in response to the drawings I developed an urge to counter what was already going on in the drawings. For example to answer the fairly light marks already laid down in the image I added darker, heavier elements and in some cases I introduced straighter lines / marks to counter the movement set up by Andrea's work(without closing the drawing down by preventing the eye from wandering).

I responded to each of the four drawings as follows:

Andrea 1

Andrea + Patrick 1

In this drawing there was an obvious space left for me slightly off centre, towards the right and I began to sense either a building standing within a clearing or a yacht moored at a dock in the background behind the fence that linked the two groups of trees. 
However, as I worked, the image I was creating started to move forward until it had finally arrived in the foreground. I erased a little more of the fence to allow it to come through and at the same time allowed it to lose its definition as either a building or a yacht to become something that might possibly resemble an abstract structure set up a garden immediately in front of the viewer. Once I had sited this collection of lines and marks within this space, I stopped working and left it for the next participant to to resolve.

Andrea 2

Andrea + Patrick 2

This drawing had a couple of vacant spaces that I could attend to so I felt I initially needed to work within these two spaces. There were several parts of the drawing where Andrea had added small areas of shading that subtly began to define form and to push and pull the various elements within the space of the drawing. I picked up on these and began to adjust them, and in some cases link them together.

In the back of my mind I was thinking of early examples of analytical cubism (which I have always loved) in which the image appears to have been shattered, leaving broken fragments clashing with each other. The shadows created by these fragments caused the image to lose cohesion and disturb our understanding of the image. 
2D and 3D readings become confused and a little contradictory. I have always been attracted to this type of contradiction within art works and I guess this is what was urging me to reinforce the shaded areas of the drawing. Some areas didn't really change much but others did create a contradiction, appearing sculptural at one point and two dimensional at another. It was at this point that I ceased work.

Andrea 3

Andrea + Patrick 3


In the third drawing, the foreground was occupied by many plant pots, tubs and vases leaving a narrow vacant space in the top third of the drawing in which I could introduce something. For this work I imagined myself in a garden, gazing across the top of work table that was covered with pots as if a gardener had been hard at work potting and repotting plants. 
My participation here would initially be to introduce something into this imagined garden. Andrea had already added some feint garden chairs but they had already begun receding into the background. At first I worked on them, pulling them forward into the composition. As I worked I added other chairs and small tables, arranging them into a row across the background. Interestingly, the more I worked on them the more I began to interpret the resulting row of shapes as a bridge. 
Could this garden instead feature a view across a wide expanse to a large rail or road bridge? In the end the chairs became more spiky, perhaps in response to the soft curves of the plant pots below. I eventually decided to keep the shapes as half chair - half bridge, hanging in an ambiguous space (my tendency towards contradiction creeping in again) and I ended my participation in the drawing by literally drawing a line under the elements I had introduced.

Andrea 4

Andrea + Patrick 4

The fourth and final drawing took me longer to assess. There was a central element (a tree) around which were scattered other elements, most of which grew more defined the further from the centre they were. The composition therefore offered a kind of donut or torus-shaped void within the drawing for me to work with. 
I considered many additions / modifications to the drawing and eventually decided to trace an imaginary walk around the garden as if I was laying out a rope or line behind me as I walked or as if a long-exposure photograph had captured my walk while holding a light pen (the type of image Picasso had made so successfully) except that my drawing would be the negative image. 
I made the fairly thick line hover above ground level and allowed it to pulsate a little due to the action of the compressed charcoal, eraser and a little white chalk (my long-time favourite combination of materials, picked up at art college many years ago). 
For a while I stopped work but before I decided to cease work entirely and pack up the drawings for postage, I turned my attention to the circle in the lower left-hand corner. I began by adding some texture to it and this texture eventually replicated that I had used in other recent drawings I had made. These drawings featured what could be described as possessing calligraphic qualities, especially when thinking of written languages containing sensuous, looping strokes such as arabic. I tried to avoid thinking of the calligraphic roundels of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul as that would have necessitated going off on a tangent and reworking the entire image. Enough is enough for the moment. For a while I considered treating the eclipse in the top right-hand corner in a similar way but  then decided against it. It would have look heavy siting up there in the sky and I didn't want to remove the sun from this garden. 

I packed up the four drawings and posted them to the third participant, Skye Williams and then moved on to another project which I will work on until the final set of Dialogue drawings arrive.

These drawing dialogues are not easy, but that is a good thing. I find the experience gained from such exercises as these is invaluable. Besides learning how to respond to the work of others, I also learn from the way others work. In fact, in every activity I undertake I attempt to put myself into a situation in which I can learn something from the experience. 

I believe that once we stop learning, we stop thinking.



Monday, November 18, 2019

'Walkings New Movements'

The 'Walking's New Movements' conference was held at the University of Plymouth, UK from Friday 1st - Sunday 3rd November 2019 presenting an opportunity for participants to 'discuss the latest developments and future prospects for radical walking and walking arts'.

The organisers of the conference were: Helen Billinghurst (University of Plymouth), Clair Hind (York St. John University) and Phil Smith (University of Plymouth).

The three days were occupied by paper presentations, provocations and events related to walking arts and psychogeography.

As I was unable to attend the conference in person I sent a conference poster outlining my ongoing walking performance 'No holiday'. On the poster I outlined an introduction to the performance and images of various recorded versions of the performance along with internet links and QR codes that would allow viewers to access the recordings as hosted on my YouTube channel.

My conference poster was displayed on the 3rd floor, between rooms RLB3030 and RLB304 and is included below:





Saturday, November 9, 2019

'All Animals are Equal #2' - A.Farm, Saigon

On Saturday 2nd November A.Farm held it's second artist extravaganza entitled 'All Animals are Equal #2' out in District 12 of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

In the main building there was an exhibition of work by artists who have been part of the residence project, collectively showing the results of their investigations. The rest of the A. Farm complex was opened up to local artists to showcase their work both indoors and outdoors.

I submitted two of my filmed performances to be included in the collective artist film screening that took place during the day.
After discussion with the organisers the two chosen films presented my performance 'One Step Forward, Two Steps Back' that had been filmed in East Yorkshire, UK and District 7 in Ho Chi. Minh City respectively.

Unfortunately I could not attend the event in person as I had previously arranged to be in Hanoi for the opening of the Vietnam Festival of Media and Design: Hanoi 2019. However, it was a great opportunity for me to show my work locally for the first time since moving here in May 2018. I really hope there will be more opportunities in the future.


'One Step Forward, Two Steps Back', Sewerby Steps, Bridlington, UK




'One Step Forward, Two Steps Back', District 7, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam


Wednesday, November 6, 2019

'British Summer Time: Sunrise Walk 7'

On Saturday 26th October, I had the good fortune to take part in another distance walk organised by Dr. Blake Morris who is currently based in the UK.

Blake initiated the series of walks (entitled British Summer Time) in response to the approaching change of clocks in the UK and how activity experienced each day at the same time undergoes an immediate and dramatic change as the clocks suddenly change back to Greenwich Mean Time (UTC).

The walk for us in Vietnam allowed us to experience the sunrise in Saigon, which was scheduled for 05:43am. I took photographs 15 minutes before sunrise (05:28 am), at the time of the sunrise (05:43 am) and then 15 minutes after sunrise (05:58 am). Of course, there is no daylight saving arrangement in place and the sunrise / sunset does not fluctuate very much throughout the year here.

Blake walked in the UK, in the vicinity of Northampton while other participants walked in a variety of locations.
On 26th October walkers strode out in the early morning in Northampton, Cork, St. Ives and Bournville. Due to the time difference, in Saigon, we walked out 6 hours ahead of everyone else and experienced a wonderful walk. The usual bustling city, verging on the chaotic, was slowly awakening. The environment was therefore much quieter than usual, with far fewer people out on the street. The air was also less humid.
A few meters from where we walked, bats and swallows competed for insects above the local river and as we continued along the road, watching the sunrise, the latter gradually replaced the former.

This was another great opportunity to see our surroundings from a new perspective, a very enjoyable walk.






Tuesday, October 29, 2019

'No holiday', Birrarung Marr, Melbourne, Australia

This is the second recorded walk I made during my recent visit to Australia, beginning in Melbourne with me exiting the Flinders Street Railway Station, crossing the road close to St. Paul's Cathedral and then across to Federation Square.

From Federation Square I walked along the Yarra Riverbank to Birrarung Marr where I discovered the large outdoor sculpture 'Angel' by Deborah Halpern standing alone in the midday sun. Not far away, up some steps I found the intriguing Federation Bells, which play music at intervals during the day.

Walking on the William Barak Bridge I made my way toward the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the largest stadium in the Southern Hemisphere.  In 2005 this bridge was enhanced by the addition of the permanent sound installation 'Proximities', created by Sonia Leber and David Chesworth, that features a welcome song sung in Woiwurrung by Wurundjeri Elder Joy Murphy Wandin, who is a descendent of William Barak. The installation also broadcasts the voices of people representing people of the 53 commonwealth countries now living in Australia.

The first thing I saw when I arrived at the cricket ground was the statue of Dennis Lillee - the legendary Australian fast bowler. I remember this amazing cricket player terrorising batsmen during Ashes matches when I was a youngster at school in the UK. There are further statues of Australian cricketing legends around the exterior of the ground.

The film concludes as I continue on my way crossing Yarra Park.



Wednesday, October 23, 2019

'One Step Forward, Two Steps Back' - 28.9.2019

During my research into the cityscape of Sydney prior to my recent visit looking for suitable locations for walking, filming or other activities, I discovered a very interesting set of steps close to Sydney Harbour Bridge. Later, when I arrived at the foot of the steps, I immediately felt that I had made an excellent choice.

The steps were built during 1912-14 and formed part of the redevelopment of the area which included construction of the wharves at Walsh Bay, a layout of new roads, and the steps themselves (named after civil engineer Robert Hickson, the first president of the Sydney Harbour Trust).

The steps (which formed part of the route from Hickson Road to the Harbour Bridge walkway deck) had so much character I was drawn to responding to them in some way and the natural way for me seemed to be in enacting a new version of my performance 'One Step Forward, Two Steps Back'.

The individual details of this performance are always governed by the specifics of each particular location and in this instance I stayed close to the right hand side (when facing uphill). This allowed me to employ the beautiful and powerful wall as a backdrop and also enabled the use of the handrail. The central rail and cast iron fence that ran down the opposite side of the steps contrasted nicely with the sandstone steps.



Sunday, October 20, 2019

'No holiday', Farm Cove, Sydney, Australia

Last month I had the great fortune to be able to visit Australia and what was even more fortunate was that during my visit I had enough time to contemplate creating three new performative works. One of them was a 'step' piece, which I shall post about soon, while the other two became episodes of the 'No holiday' saga.

The first walk, in Sydney, was particularly enjoyable for me. Since being a child I had been familiar with the landmarks in this beautiful city for example, the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House and the stunning harbour itself and wondered if I would ever actually see them. To finally gaze upon these sights with my own eyes, feel the wind on my face and take in the full scope of the landscape as I moved through the city was indeed a realisation of these, once fanciful, memories.

The route I finally decided upon for my walk began at Mrs. Macquarie's Point, which is more correctly known as Yurong Point by the indigenous Gadigal inhabitants. Here, in 1810, was a large seat or bench hand carved by convicts for the benefit of Elizabeth Macquarie, the wife of major General Lachlan Macquarie, governor of New South Wales.

From there I walked around Farm Cove, which forms the coastline of the Royal Botanic Gardens. originally known as Woccanmagully, it was the site of a farm to sustain Government House and the first Governor, Arthur Phillip.

The filming ceased close to the iconic Sydney Opera House, designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon.  
I gazed across Sydney Cove to 'The Rocks' before continuing towards Circular Quay and it was at this point that the current film ends.

Details of the second walk will be posted soon.