Today I have been making cartoonish drawings of Primary Emotions.
A Neutral Face
Sad and Happy Angry and Disgusted Surprised and Fearful
These I intend to use next week for some online teaching, as I give a demo on mask-making to prop. making students. I would like to get them active and not just give a one sided lecture. I use these ideas when teaching mask performance skills so why not for makers. I hope it will make it more personal for them as they examine their own faces and feel what muscles they use to make these extreme expressions.
Embarking upon a new line of enquiry. This continues my meditations on the human impulse to create, to make, to alter and adapt materials. To imbue material objects with meaning beyond their practical usage.
The starting point this time comes from this Jade Axe , found near Canterbury, U.K. Now a part of the British Museum collection. See Chapter 14, in ‘The History of the World in 100 Objects’ by Neil MacGregor.
What I am intrigued by is the fact that this was never a practical axe. Its purpose was inherent in its beauty, its meaning, its geographies and its biography. Add to that mix now, it’s antiquity (Between 4000 – 200 BC).
The stone has been identified as coming from a specific boulder in the Italian Alps, then was probably fashioned in Southern Brittany before travelling though to the British Islands. Extraordinarily, there is another axe, found in Dorset, which comes from the same boulder but maybe made at a different time. The two art objects made centuries apart, evidence of the longevity of a tradition.
Is this an indication of a trade being a way of maintaining relationships between distant peoples, of cementing obligations, ideas and culture?
I shall be drawing, and carving wood. The wooden versions will have to be beautiful to touch as well as to look at. To engage all the senses.
I am thinking already about the planned exhibition at The Willoughby Trust Gallery in 2021.
I have just found this tiny pot which I made in about 1976 as a student. Probably the best thing I created at that time as it holds much of what still concerns me in current drawing projects. The Square, The Circle and a playful response to the world I live in.
What I like most of all is its ‘pot-ness’ whilst at the same time its ‘bird-ness’. I remember that I had seen an image of some ancient clay toys, which inspired the painting scheme. Hand-built porcelain at just 6 c.m tall, with brushwork in iron oxide. This bird with four legs still makes me chuckle.
My current work still has the same archeological connections as I continue to ponder on the ancient impulse to ‘make’. I am still obsessing with geometry in conjunction with natural forms. My choice of materials is still governed by a perception of ancestral connections. Clay, minerals, charcoal. The sense of touch is still as important in 2D work.
Today I have been looking at Gaps between Trees.
Pine, Beech Birch, Ash
And my dear friend the Oak Tree in my local Park.
Dark Day. Looking forwards to more light
Catching up with the Drawings after a couple of weeks of inertia and poor health.
Good to be back in the studio. Although I did very little, what was done was significant and made for progress. I have used direct mark making, random accidents and finding something which I find awkward, giving both discomfiture and disruption of habits.
Last week I went to the Museum of Anthropology and Archeology in Cambridge.
I went specifically to see the Star Carr exhibition as they are the oldest mask like objects to have been found in the UK.
This has set me off on a new series of drawings.I wanted to share these with you as a part of my own thinking process.
I have been making drawings for the past year or so and spending several months on each series. A series being one large work 150cm square plus a variable number of subsidiary images (A2).
The Star Carr masks (and there are several of them, maybe 20?) are mesolithic objects made of Red Dear Skulls which were adapted to be worn. Possibly on the top of a persons head. What I find most intriguing is that the antlers have been cut down to remove the points and then hollowed out. Literally an attempt to getting inside the animal. Many flint tools were found with them.
The first image is the start of a new large drawing to which I shall be adding layers of images as they occur. Day one of a process that I expect to last for several months.
The second image is the current source material I am playing with right now. The third photo is of a memory of a shamanic ritual concerning fire and larch trees, a portal into another world. The first of who knows how many subsidiary drawings.
Struggling to find a title for this. It is inspired by and referencing William Blake, also by Duncan Grant and some of my own paintings from the 1980’s when I was living in France. Still being part of my meditation on this ageing process upon myself as a ‘gay’ person making art.
Maelstrom: Men Dancing
Horse Boat: unfinished Crawling: unfinished
Looks like it takes me three months to reach an end point to these large drawings, can’t say finished but to arrive at a stage of partial satisfaction. This is now Vitruvian Man at 3 months. Smaller drawing continue to develop the theme.
Once again I am working on a large scale charcoal drawing (1.30 metre sq.) This time being a meditation on the influence upon my artistic life by maleness, Leonardo da Vinci, movement and touch. The ghosts of ancestral giants.
With a side dish of smaller drawings to complement the process.
Even bringing my work as a mask-maker into play:
All to be continued: