Historically, a two-dimensional artwork acted like a window. The viewer knew to focus on the space inside the frame and allow themselves to be transported imaginatively into that space. With the advent of the expanded field and installation art, we have the potential to use devices and experiences long used by architects and others to create spaces which can be experienced more immersively. This exercise asks you to see if you can affect a room (and the way it is read or felt) by using a three-dimensional drawing. (EDM Handbook)
1. Find a room to make your ‘drawing’. You might be able to make a temporary drawing in a room somewhere interesting like a castle or a shop.
2. Choose a material you can easily use to ‘draw’ a line. It might be wool, florist’s wire, bean canes or even flour or sand. You might even use water. Does the room you’ve chosen suggest a material?
3. If possible, take photos of the room, sketch it or use an iPad to plan your proposed intervention in the space.
4. Make your drawing, responding to the physical properties of the room and your thoughts on how it is experienced by visitors or even just by you.
I note that the brief focuses on drawing a ‘line’. I have imagined all kinds of possibilities for this project but have not yet come up with anything that I feel any excitement about. Feeling desperate I googled ‘drawing a line in space’ while on the train to Leeds (heading for Settle, north yorkshire) last weekend. Up came the Leeds University Art and Design school and an exhibition there called ‘What is a space of a line?’. This exhibition is curated by Eirini Boukla, artist and lecturer on the BA Art and Design at Leeds University. It is on from the 13 feb -12 March 2018. Artists from around the world were invited to engage with two well known idioms “drop me a line” and “answers on a postcard”, alongside the notion that:
a line is a mark that spans its distance between two points taking any form along its way.
… Boukla is interested in contemporary drawing practice. Her research interests are built around the practice of tracing and notions of reuse, reassemble, recombine.
SO, I decided to miss my train to Settle and track up to the University, (on the way passing the window in Leeds General Infirmary behind which I spent an unhappy year working as a medical secretary when I was 19, and Leeds Metropolitan university where I spent the subsequent three years training to be a teacher). Only to find the doors to the exhibition firmly locked (the site neglects to say the opening hours – and this was still 9.30 am on Saturday morning – I caught the train at 6.30 am). The good news is that the exhibition was in the foyer, and I could peer through the glass doors to make out the postcards – more or less. Basically people had sent drawings on a postcard to Eirini. Hmmm. I am not sure this takes me much further in relation to impacting on how a space is experienced. Perhaps I can use postcards too? Here are some poor photos – remember I am excluded: an outsider – and they are taken through glass doors – in fact I have mostly photographed the large screen inside the foyer on which the postcards were being shown, and the grid on many of the postcards is actually the greed on the screen not the postcards themselves.
8 March 2018
I have made a decision to focus on outdoor space rather than a room for this project. At the footpath entrance to the car park from Duke Steet, through which I walk up to my collage in settle on my way from the railway LINE, there is an old beech tree that the council have given the adjacent rugby club permission to fell because they argue it impacts on the drainage work they want to do in the corner of the pitch abutting the tree. The tree is not on the rugby club’s land but on the public footpath and it DOES have a tree protection order (TPO Number 174 2009.
There is some local opposition to the felling of this beautiful tree and the argument has been put forward that there are alternative ways of draining the land that do not require a long standing and precious tree to be destroyed.
I have decided that my ‘line’ will be related to this environ and the issue of tree felling generally, and probably involve chalk,and hopefully might involve some other protestors. That is about as far as I have got at the moment.
I have decided to develop Boukla’s postcard idea and today wrote to all my peers -posting both on gmail and Drawing1 Facebook, and asking for contributions to this project in the form of drawings, poems, myths about beech trees . My idea is to fasten them to yellow ribbon, instead of using chalk, and tie the ribbon between the beech trees (there are a couple of adjacent smaller beech trees). The idea of yellow ribbon comes from the old song – tie a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree if you still love me. I will photograph any images sent and post them on this blog. I will also laminate the images before using them. I will also try to contact the campaign members in Settle to ask them if they would like to contribute (I have having difficulty finding any contact details for those involved presently). I will also make drawings myself. My initial idea was to try to get 150 images to represent each year of the beech’s life, but that is probably overly optimistic!
I am blown away by the generosity of my fellow artists at OCA. I have had lots of responses to my request (put out on our group email and also our group email page. Jo, from the OCA also offered to post a request for more drawings/poems/collages on the OCA weekend bulletin which comes out today. I have already had one kind person contact me as a result of this. Here are the works that have arrived so far. Most of them have come through the post and this is a lovely welcome change to receiving bills and catalogues, which these days make up most of my mail through the door.
All week I have been anxiously waiting for the post and then excitedly opening the beautiful contributions that have continued to arrive. Some people have sent their own poems, or collages, or poems and songs from others, or knitting, or lovely drawings. All are precious. I have photographed them below. My next step today is to finish laminating everything. I am using a matt laminate pouch and ironing it to seal. It works well on paper so you can’t really tell it is there. On knitting, and on the canvas, for example, it seals round the edges and will protect the work. I recognise the contradiction of using a plastic material in a project focused on the environment and this has been a real dilemma. I felt I had to use it because otherwise the messages for the tree will be destroyed within a day or so in the fairly harsh north Yorkshire environment. I am open to comments on this from the artists who have contributed – do email me with your thoughts.
The stunning image above, submitted by Janet is made from the photograph of the actual beech that I put up on our drawing fcebook page. Janet has photocopied it onto paper that she has previously worked on with watercolours and then worked on it more with pencil, before cutting it into four separate images.
And here, I think is my first one from Germany, to remember a brother/sister tree destroyed there:
This weekend I went up to Settle expressly to make contact with the campaigners for the beech. This was surprisingly difficult, with everyone I spoke to telling me they knew about the campaign but didn’t know who was involved. In such a small place this seemed odd. It began to seem like a big secret. But on my last day I finally spoke to two people who were part of the campaign group. I explained this project and asked them to share it with the others. I also passed my email details on and a link to this blog for more information with a message to say more submissions from them also welcome. I want to make sure that the people who have already worked so hard on behalf of the beech do not feel in any way concerned by my intervention. I think that any art project that involves others must consider ethics and I have tried to be careful regarding transparency, inclusion and appreciation for everyone involved. (I will reflect more on this at the end).
A couple more fabulous drawings/collages/poems were waiting for me on my return from Settle this weekend:
For my contribution I want to add some information about beech trees, and about this beech tree in particular, for example, exactly where it is. I got the idea, because beech wood was used to write on before paper, that making a ‘book’ with information about the beech would be a good idea. The word for beech and book is the same word in several languages (boch in German and bok in Swedish). The first idea I wanted to convey is that the beech is considered the queen of trees (the oak is considered the King of course!):
(the paper used for the ‘book page’ above is Japanese washi paper that I first put in a bath of water, then dipped a piece of wool in ink and twirled over the paper. The map base is cartridge paper painted/dripped with black quick ink, slate blue and turquoise water based dr. martins and then spray bleached-run under the tap/ironed – it seems to have survived ok).
I am still receiving drawings – one yesterday and another today, however I feel I probably won’t get many more. Last weekend when I went up to Settle I managed to make contact with the campaigners and shared the link to this blog. I have had some positive feedback on the project and offers of help to put it up, including step ladders. I was told that the campaign had slightly lost its momentum as these things are bound to do, and that this may help reinvigorate it. It will be great if so. I am now organising a date to go up there to ‘install’ these messages in support of the beech tree. I have thanked each individual for their contribution and shared all drawings on our Facebook drawing page, along with regular updates. The only thing left to do now before I go back up to Settle is to buy the yellow rope (I have decided yellow ribbon is not strong enough). I will tie each work to the rope with yellow ribbons. It’s going to look fabulous. I already guessed, and one of the campaigners confirmed, that we might expect vandalism. My feeling about this is that while our work may be damaged or destroyed, the love that artists bear for nature and, trees particularly, will live on and protect the tree. In the end it is not our art but our collective love that makes a difference. (I use the term ‘love’ in the sense of Eric Fromm who defines love as focused attention and care). Love lingers and lives on, while destruction in the end will only damage the destroyer.
Here are the 46 outcome – ready to go – of our collaborative love for the beech tree/s (one is under threat but others nearby may be damaged) in Settle. I hope if you contributed, you will be able to spot yours. I will of course post photos of the works installed.Thank you!