I will structure this review around the course objectives and use different aspects of my practice on this module to evidence my engagement with these objectives:

LO1 demonstrate a rigorous engagement with drawing skills 

My immediate response to this learning objective is to ask myself what I understand by ‘drawing skills’. The first answer I come up with is technical ability to draw in a representational manner. Clearly my skills in this area are a long way away from those of the ‘great’ Masters. And they will never bear comparison. However I bring something else to a rigorous engagement with drawing skills, which in the context of drawing APPS and photography, are equally important. This is a rigorous engagement with drawing in a multi disciplinary context developed through decades of study and thinking about how we relate to ourselves, to other human people, to non human people, and to our environment. I believe I have lived long enough and studied/taught hard enough to have developed some wisdom in relation to contemporary issues and problems. I hope that I can use drawing to communicate some of this thinking and critique to others. I have some understanding of psychology, philosophy, literature and sociology (all of which I have studied at undergraduate or postgraduate level) that I can incorporate into my drawing practice. This makes for rich work. I also come from a background in research and I take a research approach to my work, often starting with a research question. For example, in module six of this module, I start with the question, What can a focus on the metaphor of shoes in fairy tales contribute to a visual exploration of wanting/parigraha and its damaging social and psychological consequences? I think that this interest/experience in research and investigation is an important skill I bring to drawing and that it has enabled me to interpret the exercises in this module in rigorous ways. For example, my response to all the exercises in part five on Time are rigorous – for the exercise on changing the viewer’s perception of time I chose to argue that video is part of the extended field of drawing, and made a video of the formation of stalagmites and stalagmites in a cave in North Yorkshire. A process that takes eons (so the subject of time is uppermost in the work), but also I brought an awareness that Time can perhaps best be manipulated through video since each frame can be held for as long as the maker decides (very well encapsulated in Andy Warhol’s videos of the Empire State Building which certainly played with the viewer’s perception of time by dragging it out eternally). Another example is my choice of silverpoint for another exercise on Time, this exercise asking the maker to draw with care and take time. I chose silverpoint for this drawing both because it is not a drawing technique that can be dashed off, but also because silverpoint itself takes ‘time’ to develop and changes over time. These examples are chosen to illustrate another aspect of rigour which is related to choosing media that are congruent with, and add to, subject. Perhaps I will mention a last example – in my work for the exercise on how clothing expresses character, I drew on Dante’s inferno. I explore the clothes women wear on a night out in Newcastle, in the snow. I was interested in self objectification, and I chose to draw in ‘hard’ materials including nail varnish and glitter.

For me, ‘rigorous’ means sustained, thoughtful, determined, patient, disciplined, curious, leaving no stone unturned, analytical and step by step. i.e. one thing leads to another and the journey is not complete – although at some point in a degree one must move on. This means creating starting points for investigation that can be returned to repeatedly, for example, I have returned to the cave as a place and as a metaphor several times during this, and previous, modules, and drawings for the ‘The Machine Stops’ (TMS -novella written by E.M. Forster) on part five, are a continuation of work from ‘Exploring Drawing Media’ and will be returned to again in future modules for the degree. Interestingly, the quick drawings that I did on Part Five, for the exercise on drawing a passing scene, are not rigorous in most of the ways I have defined rigorous here. I guess they fit the ‘curious’ definition, and perhaps fit the experimentation definition since I was playing around with different media. The drawings themselves were fun, and I like them a lot – for example they have spontaneity, movement and colour in some of them. However, while I ‘like’ them they do not hold the same importance for me, as say the TMS or work on the chair (see below) I did for part one, or on Dante. Perhaps because I do not yet see a way to take them further – although as practice in drawing people, or as colour studies, they are a useful exercise.

LO2 communicate complex ideas through your practice 

This is a strength that I bring to drawing. The exercises have provided a framework and boundaries that have been useful as a jumping off point for new ways of engaging in the expanded field of drawing. As I have written at various points during this module, I am particularly interested in bringing together an experimental approach to making/process with complex ideas about the world and our place in it. I see drawing as a way to communicate/critique idea to any and all audiences, since it bi-passes language and can be understood, or interpreted, by all. During this module I have (mostly) remained focused on how to communicate a critique of our use and abuse of the environment as well as of mainstream discourses relating to our current situation. For example, in Part one I began by exploring discourses about travel versus staying put, and the imperative to keep moving versus the, perhaps spiritual suggestion, that we should remain still and stay in the present. (Of course the imperative to travel shifted later in the year once the covid19 situation developed). This focus is evidenced in exercise one which asked us to draw an object – the object I chose was a chair. The way that this led to the issue of Travel/migration/staying put was a great lesson in how exploration of objects can lead to exploration of issues (I had no idea at the start that this was where it would lead). Part four also focused on the environment and began with drawings of a cave, which quickly became associated with an exploration of another idea – that of ‘Plato’s cave’ and our imprisonment in false beliefs about the world and our relationship to it. I am influenced in my work by literature, poetry and philosophy, for example I drew on Dante’s Inferno for work in part two, and, as I mention above, I returned in Part five to finish work started in a previous module on The Machine Stops (TMS), a short story written in 1909 by E.M. Forster. I viewed this story as prescient when I started work on it three years ago. I now see it as even more so. I used an exercise on Time in part five to finish the remaining small drawings on TMS and will come back to make larger works on this project in the next drawing course on narrative. The particular exercise on part five was to make an artists book about something that takes place over time. It is slightly unclear how much time passes in TMS but two years are mentioned as passing, and it’s safe to assume that many years have passed, rather than days. For me, my work on TMS is the most exciting and important – I am using it to express ideas that I feel are crucial for us to explore as we live through what is perhaps the most far reaching and consequential shift in modes of working, relating, consuming and producing and has been described by some as the fourth industrial revolution. E.M. Forster’s concerns, expressed in TMS, that our relationships with one another, ourselves, and the natural world are fundamentally damaged through technological developments and AI should in my view, be foremost in all our thinking. I see drawing as a contribution to thinking about this, as well as part of an activist approach to critique and challenge our beliefs/behaviours and responses.

In my making I bear my tutor’s comments in mind with regard to any work that is critical of social norms, discourses and practices. This can easily become didactic and off putting for the viewer. I attempt to avoid this by a focus on process – experimentation and exploration – and by not having a fixed idea of a specific ‘image’ that I have in mind to produce at the outset. Instead I let images emerge through the work, as well as directions in which the idea itself might develop. I aim to leave room for viewer interpretation and communicate any critical message with a ‘light’ touch.

LO3 evidence your engagement with experimentation through your practice. 

As I allude to above, I do not want ideas to lead my work alone. Nor do I want experimentation/process to be devoid of ideas and content. Ideally I want to develop a practice that is lead by both experimentation and ideas/concepts/critique. I recently read a paper by Elizabeth Fisher and Rebecca Fortnum: On Not Knowing: How Artists Think.

I took from this that the author’s are arguing that artists come to know what they want to say through practice i.e. we come to knowledge through experimentation in drawing, rather than start with knowledge and express it through drawing. I have some sympathy for this view. Certainly as I express above under LO2, I have come to ideas through experimenting with drawing e.g. ideas about travel through exploring drawing a chair, or ideas about human enslavement through drawing a cave. It is certainly exciting to reach these ideas through the process of drawing and discover different ways of understanding the idea through doing so. However I also think that experimentation in art needs to be strongly grounded in knowledge from other disciplines and/or areas of experience – whether humanities, arts, sciences or first-hand life events . Art is an interdisciplinary subject and I believe that drawing on knowledge from these other disciplines and experiences strengthens the impact and reach of drawing. For me, experimentation without arriving at concept remains empty. An example of where I have experimented with no intention of attaching the experimentation to a concept is the work I conducted for assignment 5. Here I responded to an exercise on time that required us to make drawings that required time to pass for their completion. I experimented by placing peelings inside different kinds of paper, wrapping them in cardboard and leaving them with weights on top, for six months to see what happened. The resultant ‘drawings’ have a certain beauty and I believe my response to the activity was appropriate. In itself this was an interesting exercise – as with the quick drawings of scenes described above, in terms of my engagement and excitement the exercise is not fulfilling, and in terms of communication to an audience – I guess the ‘drawings’ communicate very little apart from a subliminal message that time changes everything – which of course we already know, and hardly needs saying. (Interestingly these drawings on my Instagram page have as many ‘likes’ as those on TMS, which I find baffling – they are drawings made by ‘rubbish’ and their title IS ‘Rubbish’. And they remain, in my view, ‘Rubbish’. )

To summarise this section, I believe my work on this module gives much evidence of experimentation – from those examples outlined above, to my experimentation with silverpoint on top of ink in part five, to the highly experimental work for assignment three that involved responding to music – in this assignment I decided that rather than draw TO music I would write a musical composition and discover a new visual language to score it. For this I experimented with oil and wax drawings that incorporated information to a pianist about how to ‘read’ the score, including the key, which chords to play, the dynamics, the pitch and tempo. I finished assignment three by making a video of me playing the composition alongside the drawings. Other examples of experimentation include many experiments to see how different media work together, including using enamel alongside soft pastels, oil pastels under water based mono prints, and many experiments in scratching, rubbing, layering (see part six for many experiments that involving layering many drawings on top of one another) and with different kinds of substrate e.g. PLIKE paper, coloured paper, Washi paper and copper. I am a keen experimenter and enjoy finding out ‘what happens if…’. I will continue to keep this to the forefront of my practice.

LO4 situate, reflect and critique drawing in historical and contemporary contexts and reflect on your own learning

I hope I have given evidence of my ability to do this in the writing so far for this review. Evidence can also be found in my responses to my tutor’s feedback (written on the tutor report itself). All my blogs end with a review of my learning, both about materials, subject, process, end product and further work. I continually seek out other artists whose work and practice I can learn from. For example, I think that Anselm Keifer is an excellent role model as an artist who is constantly experimentally while remaining equally focused on exploring and critiquing the human condition. The Dadaists and war artists like Kathe Kollwitz and Henry Moore (whose drawings I sometimes think are rather under-rated) have much to offer in this respect. I am also inspired by artists working today, for example Jim Shaw.

I write a lot, and writing helps me develop my ideas for practice. I am beginning to explore incorporating writing into my drawing too. This is most apparent in the drawings for TMS where I use the words of E.M. Forster rather than my own words, but I may explore using my own words more in future. I have written copious amounts about other artists work in blogs for this module and have explored theoretical ideas about art at length, for example, the process/content debate (I sometimes get the impression that process is winning out in this debate (see for example the article I refer to above about coming to knowledge through drawing, rather than bringing knowledge to drawing) and argued for a balanced approach in which content/ideas are given more prominence and art is viewed as having meaning beyond itself – in a way that does not become didactic. My experience as a teacher is relevant here: I tell my students that they must write to learn, not to show what they already know. Yet I recognise that in order to write to learn they must have gained certain knowledge as a starting point. Writing, and I think drawing too, are processes through which knowledge is clarified, evaluated, developed and crucially, communicated clearly. In terms of a developing voice, alongside my interest in social critique, I think narrative and the inter-sections between story, and different kinds of language are possibly emerging as the core of my practice.

Final thought added at the very end of this module – I need to produce an awful lot of work before I make anything that I am pleased with! Out of the more than three hundred drawings I have made for this module, I am excited by the possibilities of perhaps 14 of them (all submitted for assessment – six of them are in the flip books). I love the drama and darkness of the series of drawings in the middle of The Red Shoes (drawings made of the long dance scene, and before the film returns to the framing story) and I feel that in these drawings (in the last few days before the final date for submission for assessment) I am getting into my stride.

The outcomes from the module in terms of learning are of course huge.

Here are the 14:


Part five: time Lines: project 18: Time and the Viewer.

Aim: Make a drawing which forces the viewer to use time differently. This may mean a drawing which takes time to make sense of, or a drawing that creates a feeling of a certain pace. The drawing may need an investment of time by the viewer in some way. A drawing is a record of the time you spent making it, but the viewer also spends time looking at it, perhaps seeking meaning, enjoying its beauty or marvelling at the artist’s skill. 

(Module handbook)

I find this a really interesting exercise.So suppose I want to make time go faster or slower for the viewer. How could I manipulate this? A couple of ideas about slowing down time are suggested below – both relate to film. One is about making a slow motion film. The second about the two dimensional work itself making ‘waiting’ its subject.

A highly conceptual art, like an extremely rejective art or an apparently random art, upsets detractors because there is “not enough to look at,” or rather not enough of what they are accustomed to looking for. Monotonal or extremely simple-looking painting and totally “dumb”objects exist in time as well as in space because of two aspects of the viewing experience. First,they demand more participation by the viewer, despite their apparent hostility (which is not hostility so much as aloofness and self-containment). More time must be spent in experience of a detail-less work, for the viewer is used to focusing on details and absorbing an impression of the piece with the help of these details. Secondly, the time spent looking at an “empty” work, or one with a minimum of action, seems infinitely longer than action-and detail- filled time. This time element is, of course, psychological, but it allows the artist an alternative to or extension of the serial method. Painter-sculptor Michael Snow’s film Wavelength, for instance, is tortuously extended within its 45–minute span. By the time the camera, zeroing in very slowly from the back of a large loft, reaches a series of windows and finally a photograph of water surface, or waves, between two of them, and by the time that photograph gradually fills the screen, the viewer is aware of an almost unbearable anticipation that seems the result of an equally unbearable length of time stretched out at a less than normal rate of looking; the intensity is reinforced by the sound, which during most of the film is monotonal, moving up in pitch and up and upin volume until at the end it is a shrill hum, both exciting and painful.

Lucy Lippard and John Chandler. The dematerialisation of Art.1967-8 page 1.

This gives me ideas about what to do for this project. Of course Andy Warhols films have the same quality. So something that stretched the viewers time, like a meditation. When does a film become a drawing or vice versa?

See this article too which gives another, and different idea, about two dimensional drawings ABOUT WAITING that might mean the viewer experiences time differently? hmm. but do they?

For this project I went up to Ingleborough Cave near Clapham , North Yorkshire – less than two miles from where I was born and grew up. I was excited to find that synchronistically, Ingleborough cave do a few open evenings just for photographers so I booked a session in July 2020 to get this photography done in good time – the open evenings are only available in summer months.fullsizeoutput_e0d


My idea was to use stalagmites and stalactites both as objects representative of eons of time having passed, but also to make a video of the formations in the cave. Video drawing is really interesting in regard to this project because the videographer is in total control of how long to hold each frame and how long to force the viewer to watch it for before they can view the next frame (although of course the viewer always has ultimate control because they can simply stop the video – the maker therefore has to carefully weigh up how long they can hope to hold the viewer’s interest if they play with time).

I also added the sound of the water dripping/falling in the cave because I think that sound, too has an interesting impact on our perception of time. For me, this video drawing, and sound have a very soporific effect. Please note the I needed to make the video shorter than I would have liked because of storage space on both vimeo and this blog.

Here is the edited video drawing:

100,000 years. Video focused on both the time it took for the stalagmites and stalagtites to form as well as on the viewer’s experience of time as they watch.


I find the question we are asked to reflect on interesting: how does the time spent by the viewer relate to what you do as an artist? I am concerned by the ‘speeding up’ of life generally, from so many things to do, to the time it takes us to fly around the world, to the almost instantaneous response we now expect to email – we live packed and busy lives. I have written previously that I worry that this general acceptance of speediness has entered into the expectations on us as artists. I feel, perhaps mistakenly, that a number of exercises on OCA modules demand spontaneity and speed, and again I may be mistaken (I am not doing the oca exercises in order in part four and five and wrote this before I read in the previous exercises in the module handbook, that taking time and effort in contemporary art has become a hall mark of drawing – this surprises me and is not the impression I get from the OCA courses. I am glad to see that the previous exercises on Time in this part of the module asks us to take time and effort with the drawing). I also sometimes feel that spontaneous and quick results are more valued by peers and the OCA. I think we should slow down generally – to help relationships with ourselves, others and the planet.

I am interested in drawing more slowly and carefully (although aware I usually do not do so). SO as a maker I’d like to slow down, but this reflection is supposed to be about the viewer’s time.

I’ve started this reflection by writing about the maker’s time because clearly the two are linked – the maker lives in a busy world and may be under pressure to produce many quick works, but so too the viewer lives in a busy world and has many calls on her time. She is probably used to glancing quickly at a work and moving on to the next. She perhaps feels irritated if she is forced to spend more time than she had planned looking at a work. My conclusion is that the viewer’s time is precious and should not be relied on as flexible. Perhaps the only excuse for demanding more attention or time from the viewer (through the way the art work is created or shown), should be because the subject of the art work, as with this work here, is TIME itself, and if it is thought by the artist that manipulating the viewer’s use of time may make a point that is deemed important to the viewer and society. Generally I’d like to hope that I will think more explicitly about time I spend on making a work as well as time I’d like my viewer to spend on it – video of course seems the ideal medium for controlling the latter.

It might be that the video I have made is questioned – is it a drawing? Well I would be the first to admit perhaps it is not. But I see that in another exercise that comes earlier in the module, and that I have not done yet, asks us to consider the extent that Louise Bourgiou’s Spider is a drawing. I saw the Spider at the Tate modern some years back. I will write more on this. Suffice it to say here that I am prepared to allow that Louise Bourgious’ Spider is actually a drawing, if the reader of my blog is prepared to allow that my video is also a drawing. Also of course, why does it matter? The answer might be because I am doing a degree in drawing, but the OCA (and contemporary drawing exhibitions) have extended the field of drawing beyond what the person in the street would recognise as ‘drawing’ and therefore perhaps will need to accept the if the maker calls it a drawing, that is what it is. To answer the question I asked above – when does a film become a drawing – I would say this could be answered by arguing when it follows a visual line of thought.




Part five: time lines: project 17: Inside Plato’s Cave

Gwen Hardie, Richard Wright, Stephen Walter, Grayson Perry and Jim Shaw are all mentioned in the course handbook as artists who take a lot of time and care with their drawings. We are asked to start by doing some research into these artists. The handbook goes on to suggest that working in a painstaking or meticulous way, has arguably become one of the most significant features of contemporary drawing. I am surprised to hear this. My experience on the drawing modules has impressed upon me the fast and spontaneous in drawing rather more than the slow and meticulous. It’s also interesting to note that only one of the artists listed above specialises in drawing – two are painters, one works in multi media including litho prints and one is best known for his ceramics.

By making a drawing which involves focused effort you’ll be in a position to reflect on how this affects your relationship with the subject and the process and what it communicates to the viewer.

Module handbook

Method: Choose a subject which has a substantial number of detailed parts. Think about whether these parts will be repeated (a plate of baked beans, for example) or all different (a hyper-realist drawing of pins and nails). Consider also whether the parts will be drawn from observation or invented (as in the work of Paul Noble). Remember that the original subject may not be primarily visual (in extended doodling, for example); you may be using drawing to describe a narrative or even musical score, so that the imagery is secondary to the relationships between the elements.  It’s not ‘cheating’ to use a projector or tracing paper here to create extra layers of complexity.

(Module handbook)

Jim Shaw is an artist I wrote about previously on this module, and someone whom I have a lot of admiration for. I will not write about him further here, but see the final part of this post. I particularly am interested in the ways that Shaw draws on William Blake (whom I have also written about previously in different posts as well as visited the exhibition a year or so ago): in a new tab)

I have also written about Grayson Perry previously and so will focus here on Gwen Hardie, Richard wright and Stephen Walter all of whom are new to me. Paul Noble is also mentioned above and so I will take a look at his work too.

Gwen Hardie is a scottish artist born in 1962. I like her self portraits a lot, because of her perspective and rather mottled finish; her paintings of skin slightly less so. All her work seems to be oil on canvas and I am not sure why she is included in this focus on drawing. I don’t feel that here ‘body’ of work on ‘body’ is obviously notable for its painstaking time taken, although it’s hard to know from an image on the internet. I think that other artists work may take much longer.

Many painters work in a painstaking way, for example my daughter’s work below has taken something like 800 hours or more, and it is still not quite finished:

Figure 17.3 Tania Khan. Untitled. 2020. Oil on canvas. Work in progress.

Richard Wright is also a Scottish artist (though born in London in 1960) whose decorative works are often made to embellish architectural spaces. His work is known for its intricate geometric patterns in paint and gold leaf (a material I like to use). Interestingly his works are often short lived and may not survive the exhibition and are painted over at the end of the show. He also produces works on paper that might include thousands of marks. The massive gold leaf fresco below won the Turner prize when it was painted on the walls of the Tate gallery using traditional techniques including drawing onto paper first and transferring the design through pin prick holes with chalk. It too was then painted over at the end of the exhibition.

It’s interesting to wonder why an artist would commit so much time to producing a beautiful work only to see it destroyed at the end, unless like Banksy’s destruction of his work at auction by a built in shredder (brilliant if true) is a specific comment on our culture. For example, Banksy is well known for his critique of consummerist society and shredding one of his works, just after it has sold for millions, in front of the buyers, is certainly making a point. Perhaps Wright is commenting on the transience of beauty? I did read that at art school he was critical of the idea that art would become a burdensome object and I think this is important – its one of the reasons I’d rather do small work in a book, rather than massive paintings on a canvas frame – I’m keen on adding as little as possible to the sheer amount of material objects in the world, and have tried to implement a ‘clearing’ process in my life for the last three years – its also a reason for working on paper rather than canvas. I admire Wright’s ethos, work ethic and dedication, and these are all things to emulate and learn from.

We are also directed to the work of Stephen Walter who works with maps and drawing. I could not open the link in the module handbook but I was interested in this quote from the Guardian:

The Island, about to be published in book form, is part oral history, part folklore, part personal homage, and was completed in 2008, when this park was still being cleared. Walter denoted the site as a set of Olympic rings between the football pitches of “hack ’em down” marshes and an ironic “end of the world” line that marks the border with Newham (“worst life expectancy – female”) and competing associations of “McGrath Waste Management: a terrace of clank and dust, hear the noise and feel it in your eyes”, “paint, glue and parafin[sic]” works, “African mirical [sic] believers” and “new city pads?”. If he were to redraw his Island now – and he has plans to do maybe two or three more versions in his lifetime – then it would include one or two different magnifying-glass impressions of the place he has experienced since then, which he annotates in conversation as we walk.’ (Tim Adams. The Guardian. 2015.

figure 17.5. Stephen Walter. the Island. nb I looking for a ‘map’ of the wick and stratford areas but if there was one it was too small to see what was going on so I chose instead this image that shows north west london including Hampstead heath. I think this is interesting not only for ‘mapping’ what Walton found in this specific area but also his comments on it and events that took place there, for example ‘worst housing slightly north of camden and south of hampstead heath – though worst than what I cannot imagine, perhaps worst than the incredibly expensive housing anywhere near Hampstead heath but certainly far from the worst in London! He also annotates things that happened to him in specific places e.g. ‘where I got my heal caught in the coming doors of a tube train’

Partly I am interested because I am familiar with the part of Hackney that Walter talks about in this interview. I lived in Homerton for many years (Homerton is about a mile from Hackney Wick and the area Walters referred to above) before I moved a couple of miles further North. I also got to know the derelict landscape he refers to as a setting for a film I helped on around that time: before all the urban development destroyed much of interest in the area. I found one of Walter’s drawings of Hackney further to the South of this landscape, but it was too small to ‘read’ on the computer screen.

This specific exercises in project 17 relates to spending time with one’s subject and Walter certainly does that. He goes into great detail and since he has drawn most areas of London, he clearly knows the city very well. I really like the idea of getting to know a subject so intimately, and I also like the fact that this drawing required a lot of research ie he could not just sit in front of his object and observe it. He needed to physically map the area by walking around it. I also of course admire his obsession with detail, his patience and dedication to understanding and recording his subject as well as his experience of his subject. I think recording is key here. As Walters says himself, his subject changes constantly. His work is therefore intimately concerned with time.

Paul Noble, interestingly, also focused on drawing a city for his massive work, Nobson Newtown. This is a fabulous project, in my view, in which he both critiques the urban landscape and the town planners and people who make it the grim mess that it often is. He also draws on his own experience of growing up in a town with some similarities to Nobson Newtown. In fact Paul Noble would be an interesting artist to study in relation to my critical review for the Parallel project because of what seems a fairly rare emphasis on both critique and personal reflection on experience:

See an essay about Nobson Newtown by Ducan McLaren here:

The work of Noble and Walters gives me some pointers to think about my own work for this exercise, which I intend starting soon (its september 2020 now). So, to think about in the next couple of weeks;

  • A drawing that takes so much time allows an intimate relationship with and knowledge of the subject to develop.
  • Therefore its worth coming up with an idea that relates to something I’d like to develop a better understanding of and/or care about a lot.
  • I like the idea of going out and about and collecting my research from observation of the environment, and possibly putting together disparate elements to make up the composition.
  • I like the idea of using text, if relevant to the subject.
  • I like the idea of recording something that is ‘becoming’ as a city ‘becomes’ but like Walters I think it best to draw it at the stage it is at now rather than try to encapsulate changes as they occur .
  • But learning from Wright, I also like the idea of my art being ephemeral and possibly destroyed at the end of making, or if not destroyed (I’m not sure I could go that far with something I put so much effort into!) at least working in detail and for a long time on something fairly small keeps the amount of material objects I throw out into the world fewer and takes up less space in the world.
  • Learning from Noble is that taking time and effort could be over a series of drawings rather than one, that fit together to form a whole, and perhaps for this exercise I do only the first one.

I had planned to return to silverpoint for this project, because I used it once for Exploring Drawing Media, and would like to try it again, and also because it requires effort and takes time to draw with. Interestingly for this project of course, it also fits the brief for the assignment since it is a drawing process that not only takes effort, but also needs time to develop since the metal needs oxygen to oxidise and turn from what is first a pale grey to brown (in the case of silver). I found this takes months.

I discovered that PLIKE, which I have written about on my blog before, is an excellent support for metal point drawing needing no further coating, of e.g. casein – which is generally recommended as a preparation for metal point drawing, and which I would not use because its manufacture involves cruelty and exploitation of other beings. (Artists who used metal point in the past also abused animals – they drew on vellum. Vellum is the skin of a calf). I previously did a lot of research on silverpoint and other metal point drawing for the project on exploring drawing medium, as well as contemporary artists drawing with silverpoint See: in a new tab)

Below is my previous drawing in silverpoint. I chose this building because of its liner qualities. I was conscious that Metal point drawings allow linear work only and tonal qualities are built up through hatching. Also the lines are all the same thickness and all the same weight when using silverpoint (although its possible to buy different thicknesses of silver), so I think pattern needs to come to the fore, as does different intensity of hatching to allow tonal qualities to emerge. Its good to remind myself of these things. This drawing is A2 as will be my new drawing since I can’t afford to buy PLIKE any bigger (its expensive) plus, because it takes so long, I’d never complete it:

Figure 17.6 Susan Askew. 2018. Silverpoint drawing. untitled. (completed for EDM module)

Returning to the drawing above after three years is interesting. I like the variety of mark making in it and the way I have managed to get some fairly strong tonal contrasts.I think it has quite a good sense of three dimensionality. However, as the above photo taken today shows, the silver hasn’t oxidised at all and this is disappointing. I haven’t seen it all this time and I’d hoped it would be quite brown. Perhaps its because its been inside a book inside plastic. I’ll leave it out to ‘air’.

Now, I’d like to find a subject for this new drawing, as I write above, that has more interest and emotional resonance for me. I’d also like to experiment at the start to see whether silverpoint on PLIKE would show on top of background marks made from ink. I’m wondering too, could I use silver point in conjunction with other media, say enamel paint? gold leaf? charcoal? (thinking about my favourite media here). Maybe I’ll just do a series of small experiments for this exercise?

A few weeks later – I’m thinking that because silverpoint has a very ethereal quality (and is at times quite difficult to see before it darkens!) it would make sense to use this quality in the subject of the drawing (I am no nearer on alighting on a subject for it currently). I have been looking at the wonderful silverpoint drawings of Carol Pusa, which while not ethereal in the sense of ghostly or fragile, is certainly otherworldly (and often concerned with astrology). I note she also used acrylic paint. Certainly these are drawings that take time and effort:

I had an ah ha moment in the night after writing the above. I had been thinking of another cave drawing for this project; the caves are not ethereal although as I’ve written before they were seen by the romans as entrances into the underworld . I was wondering about a drawing from ‘The Machine Stops’ series since one of the characteristics of the people who live in their ‘bubble’ underground is that, since they have never seen daylight, they are extremely white and weak. I’ll think more about this. I hadn’t thought of drawing people for this project. (nb I decided to use this idea for a different exercise in part five that involves making a book).

It’s a couple of week on since I wrote the above – I think there are glimmerings of some interesting ideas here, but I have decided to keep going with the cave drawings I worked on for part four. I like the fact that the rocks took millions of years to develop and I am going to attempt to take time to draw them slowly and carefully. I started with some quick experiments because I’m interested to know whether I can use silverpoint on top of colour. I thought water based inks on PLIKE would be the most environmentally friendly option – one of the considerations for using silverpoint before was also the fact that a single piece of silver can last for many, many drawings – I don’t know how many but countless – and that wood is not used in either the casing or in the paper (I understand from research that the idea that there are sustainable wood crops used for paper making is a fallacy and my research indicated that PLIKE is one of the least environmentally damaging papers available).

Figure 17.7 Ink and silverpoint
figure 17.8 ink and silverpoint
Figure 17.9. ink and silverpoint
Figure 17.10 ink and silverpoint
Figure 17.11 ink and silverpoint

All the figures above are made with water-based ink, uniball biro and silverpoint. I wasn’t sure whether silverpoint would work on top of ink, and of course the darker the ink, the less it shows. On figure 17.7, where the colours are paler, it shows best, although I think the top colours are rather gorgeous. Silverpoint really doesn’t work at all where the ink dries very shiny rather than matt – all the dr. martin’s watercolour inks dry matt – I have also tried some quick ink which dries matt and calligraphy ink which does not. I will stick with the matt inks (although perhaps I might add a splash of shiny ink here and there).I wonder too if I could have some very pale areas where I worked in detail and some darker areas where I use less silverpoint. I am not convinced that working on colour is a great idea with silverpoint – it will lose the ethereal qualities I spoke of earlier. On the other hand this is an experiment, and I am not sure if anyone has used silverpoint on top of ink before, and I think it is worth the effort to find out what kind of qualities the use of silverpoint, rather than pencil or pen, will bring to the finished work, and so I am going to go ahead with it. The marks will of course turn brown after a time and this needs bearing in mind when thinking about the colour of the background.

Here is the final drawing, in stages:

Stage 1.

Figure 17.12. stage 1. PLIKE with ink painted on with half inch brush. rose pink st martins and green windsor and newton. black quick. I sprayed with bleach/blotted/ran under tap to try to reduce pink even more than below – but to no avail. The PLIKE stood up to all this fairly well but there is some damage to the paper – luckily on the back – where I put it down on top of undiluted bleach. I finally ironed it to dry the paper.

Stage 2

Figure 17.13 spray bleach. bleach brushed on/blotted in bleach! (neat bleach!) run under the tap – all to try and ‘dampen’ down the pink – which didn’t work!

Stage 3.

Figure 17.14. Ink, biro and silverpoint on PLIKE. Beginning of more detailed drawing.

Stage 4

Figure 17.15. Inside Plato’s cave. finished drawing. 14 x 14 in.PLIKE with ink, biro and silverpoint.

Reflection: there are several things I like about this drawing. One important thing to stress is the congruence between process and subject and exercise aim. By this I mean that the exercise was to take time to do the drawing – there is congruence between taking time on the drawing and the subject of the work – rocks more than anything perhaps are signs pointing to the length of time that the planet has existed and formed. Secondly there is congruence between the use of silverpoint and the subject – silverpoint takes both time to use (it is not a material one would choose if wanting a drawing in minutes) and time to develop, since oxidation of the silver to form brown coloration takes place over months or years. In fact this drawing could also be used for the assignment for part five which asks for a drawing that takes place OVER time ie a silverpoint drawing will not reach its final form for years. (If I remember I will photograph this work again in a couple of years and place it side by side with the drawing in its current incarnation).. I like the colour and marks in the drawing. I think that silverpoint over ink has potential that I would like to explore more. I’d also like to combine more media, e.g. ink, silverpoint and enamel or gold leaf to get more contrast between matt and shiny qualities – I will try this for one of the drawings I plan for the ‘book’ exercise.

In relation to how spending time on a drawing impacts on my relationship with the drawing and the process, as well as what this communicates to the viewer – I enjoy spending time on a drawing more than drawing quickly. I find it more restful and I like the fact that it is waiting ready for me to go back to and I don’t have to start afresh each time. I know exactly what I am doing. I don’t have to think, once I have started, beyond the original idea. I guess that I could get bored if it went on too long – in fact this final drawing only took me 10 hours which is not very long, but I can see that I could expand this drawing to an A1 size (it is currently 14 in square) and this would take me maybe 50 hours. I think it would be 50 hours well spent. If I do this, and I may I would make the colours paler (which I meant to do for this too).

I can only guess at what my spending time on a drawing communicates to the viewer, but if I think about how time spent on the drawings above by other makers communicates to me – I would say a sense of respect for the discipline, admiration, inspiration, and a feeling that I want to put time into studying the work to reflect and pay tribute to the time spent making it. I also think, very importantly, that time and care put into drawing are important antidotes to the fastness of society. We increasingly live as I have reflected on in my blog before, in a hurrying and quick culture. I think that the slow drawing movement, if there is such a thing, should be supported – I’d like to discipline myself to become a member.

nb. I googled ‘slow art’ and indeed there is such a thing. There is a book of the same name:

Arden, J. (2017) Slow Art: The Experience of Looking, Sacred Images to James Turrell. University of California Press.

In this book Arden tells us that Americans spend between 6-10 seconds with individual art works in museums and art galleries!

There is a ‘slow art’ day: April 6th which celebrated its 11 year inception this year.

There is an article published in Art Net

And there is an entry about ‘slow art’ by the Tate:

‘Slow Art in An Age of Speed’ :


Part five: timelines: project 16 : an artist’s book: NO IDEAS HERE

Method: Create an artist’s book about something which elapses over time. 

Module Handbook

I made the decision as soon as I saw this project at the start of the module to return to work I started on ‘Exploring Drawing Media’ on the short-story ‘ The Machine Stops’, by the prescient, E.M. Forster.

A story, of course, requires time to elapse for the drama to develop and come to a resolution.

Perhaps of all the work I have done on the drawing degree so far, The Machine Stops, held the most excitement for me. It has even more resonance now – a year since I starting this current module, and a year since I decided to return to The Machine Stops at the start of the module when I read through all the projects. The reason for this, of course, is that world of The Machine Stops, which I thought prescient two and a half years ago, has come uncannily closer since 23rd March 2020 when we were encouraged into lockdown. The Machine Stops is a fictional short story in which the inhabitants of earth have moved underground and live in isolation pods that they never leave. It was written in 1909 and even at that time Forster was concerned about the inevitable outcomes of a technology driven world. The characters communicate by computer and spend their time giving lectures to one another on tenth-hand material. Direct experience is never sought, and people never meet. Everything they need is brought to their ‘bubble’. I got to the point on EDM of doing 32 fast sketches relating to specific text – either from the omniscient narrator, or from the two central characters. I then went on to rework these sketches: I managed 17 slightly reworked sketches on EDM and a third reiteration of one of the drawings.

My job now is to do the remaining second reworking, and if time, go on to do even further developed drawings (ie a third rendition). My initial quick sketches for this project are already in book form. so are the further developed sketches. At this point I propose eventually to bind the third rendition – probably using a hand sewn binding method and making a cover for the book (but I won’t have time to finish this for this exercise). I show below which drawings were done for the earlier project on EDM and which for this current project.

Here are some of the first quick sketches from this earlier EDM work, followed by the second developments and the one, third reworking that I finished on EDM:

figure 4.4.1. ‘No Ideas Here’ – directly above. all examples of quick sketches, second reworking , and above, one third reworking completed on EDM.


My research into book-artists started with a general search.

Art shows come and go but books stay around for years. They are works themselves, not reproductions of works.

Sol LeWitt. 1976.

As I argued on EDM I see a distinction between book illustration (wonderful as I think much book illustration is) and artists’ books – I see the former as a commercial contract made between publisher who approaches the artist to provide pictorial representation of elements of a story written by the author. I see the artist book as allowing more freedom. Perhaps, too, in artists’ books text becomes secondary to the drawing, or may not be present, or at least the text is not more important than the drawing.

I found an interesting page on artists books held in the Victoria and Albert museum here:

I am inspired by the wonderful work of Tom Phillips, who translated and illustrated Dante, the Divine Comedy, but also made three (I think) editions of A Humument. The latter is a reworking of a Victorian romance written by W. H. Mallock, called A Human Document. I believe that Phillips has made three different versions, the last in 2016. These have been published and I intend buying them. They are the repurposing of every single page, and words from the original have been isolated to retell a different but related story. I love this idea since I am very interested in the relationship between text and drawing.

figure 4.16.1 Tom Phillips. 2016. A Humument. pages 18 and 19
figure 4.16.1 Tom Phillips. 2016. A Humument. pages 58 and 59
figure 4.16.1 Tom Phillips. 2016. A Humument. pages 222 and 112

I have included pages 222 and 223 above to give some idea of what a herculean labour of love this project is (given that he has also done the whole book three times). I very much enjoy and respect artists that are so dedicated to an individual project. Perhaps because I doubt that I have this kind of patience and concentration – I’d like to have.

Much of the fabulous work of the visionary, William Blake, is in the form of illustrations to accompany his poetry. I wrote about his work in drawing 1, and also visited the fabulous exhibition of his work earlier on this current module. I included many examples, here: in a new tab)

Because I wrote about Blake before, I will not write about his work in detail again, except to include a couple of my favourite drawings to illustrate his poem, Visions of the Daughters of Albion, published in 1793. This is seen as an early example of his prophetic books and as a sequel, of sorts, to The Book of Thel. The central character of the Daughters of Albion is Ooothoon, who is in love with Theotormon, but who is raped by Bromine. Blake uses Plato’s allegory of the cave to explore how the three characters cannot see reality because of their indoctination through social convention – Blake looks to America for racial harmony and female freedom from sexual oppression and repression (although I read that Blake recognised that America still practiced slavery at the time, even through freed from British rule: it seems very odd therefore that he would see America as a land of freedom ). Blake is a role model for me because not only did he marry text and drawing, but he also used his work to focus on contemporary social injustices, while producing work that is beautiful. I’d like to make contemporary drawings of the poem for a future project, illustrating the idea that women are still not free from sexual oppression and repression 230 years later, and that America is NOT the land of the free as Blake hoped it would become.

Like Blake and many other artists, Sandro Botticelli also made drawings to illustrate Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy.

Sandro Botticelli, llustration to the Divine Comedy (Inferno), 1480s, Silverpoint on parchment, completed in pen and ink, coloured with tempera.
Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Rome

I chose the drawing above because not only is it is drawn using silverpoint (which I wrote about in another post and intend using for my time-consuming drawing), but because he has also combined silverpoint with another coloured medium, which I’m also considering doing for my silverpoint drawing. He has also used text, which I’m considering doing also! There’s more to this drawing than first meets the eye in more ways than one.

I did a lot of research into contemporary artists’ books – there is much information available on the web and several collections in existence – it is an art form in itself and the wikipedia ‘artists books’ site has a lot of useful links and information. I settled on an artist’s book made by Anselm Kiefer to finish this section of my blog research.

Throughout his career Kiefer uses art and an ever evolving choice of medium to critique the myths and chauvinism which eventually propelled the German Third reich to power….(His paintings balance)…the dual purposes of visually powerful imagery and intellectual critical analysis.

Harris (2017)

Much contemporary book art is made from paper and is traditional book sized, but Kiefer challenges these conceptions by making a book that is taller than a person and made from lead. Much of Kiefer’s work focus on the lasting impacts of the second world war, as does this book too:

Anselm Kiefer. The Secret Life of Plants.

This is what the National Gallery of Australia has to say about it:

Paper is normally soft and subtle to the touch, but Anselm Kiefer’s commanding book has twelve harsh lead pages, each bigger than a person, with sharp ragged edges. As the basest metal, lead does not decay, and its use in tombs and bullets associates it with death. We know that it also accumulates in bones and soft tissues, killing nerve cells and causing paralysis.

Flowers painted over the book’s leaves refer to Flanders poppies with their connotations of war and loss. Stars labelled with astronomical numbers and drawings of constellations indicate the depths of space, with the six digits prefixing the numbers reminiscent of the six-digit ka-tsetnik numbers tattooed on German concentration camp inmates. The main stars in the Cassiopeia constellation are labelled, and the names of five neighbouring constellations, including Auriga and Perseus, are written in chalk.

The title, also written in chalk, refers to Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird’s 1973 book on physical and emotional relations between plants, humans and the universe, in which the authors claim the plant as the universe’s guard and healer, and the bearer of its secrets.

I continued from sketch 17 to produce 12 more drawings to finish this second series. I also made them into a flip book with text for this exercise for Investigating Drawing. Here they are side by side with the new sketch on the right; I propose displaying them in this way for the remaining 12 reworked drawings. ie left hand sketch from a previous module – right hand sketch new. Link to the flipook below the sketches.

For the link to the finished flip book with text please click here:

Reflect on yet another aspect of time as you experience what it’s like to lose yourself in the concentration required to work in a very highly focused way.

I wanted to return to this project after working on it on Exploring Drawing Medium because I wanted to finish the second round of drawings – they are very important to me. As I wrote above, I began work on The Machine Stops three years ago because I thought it prescient, given it was written in 1909 before home computers or mobile devices were invented. I think it even more precient now as we are isolate in our bubbles, communicate remotely and are told not to go outside.

It is interesting to see how my style of drawing has changed over the last three years. The earlier second round drawings only use biro and gouache, and while I have used biro and gouache here too, I have also added coloured crayon or felt tip pen if I felt the need. I think too that the second lot of 12 drawings are slightly more confident and ‘solid’ – even though they were done very quickly, in perhaps half an hour to an hour maximum – the quick drawings from a prior exercise where I drew from film helped a lot with this and I feel more confident in following my instinct about what to do next in the drawing. The reflection asks me to think about my experience of time as I focus on the task and ‘lose’ myself in a concentrated way. I must say I have not lost my enthusiasm for this project and feel very emotionally engaged in it. I intended developing a third iteration of the drawings, if time, for this current exercise, but did not have time. I hope to return to this work for the parallel project in the next module and like the idea of developing both bigger drawings, but also thinking about processes/contrasts (e.g. shiny and matt, rough and smooth as well as layering more) for that project. I’d also like to use more collage/found images – one of my favourites here is the mechanical arm working at a computer that is altered on top of a found image. I should say I am very pleased with the interpretation of text and images that I have used here. I also like the colours and background layers, which serendipitously always seem to work with the image chosen (Trust instinct is my mantra in relation to this). It\s good to see all the images together:


Blake exhibition review: in a new tab)

Harris, M. (2017). Five ways of seeing the relationship between art and politics – in a time of Trump: (Accessed November 2020)

National Gallery of Australia. Kiefer exhibition.

Sol LeWitt. 1976. Art-Rite. No 14.

Victoria and Albert Museum.


Part five: time lines: project 15: A changing Scene

Aim: Draw a changing scene. Record movement and action and reflect on how to balance movement and form to create a dynamic image.

Method: I decided for this project to attend the royal drawing school on friday night to draw from film. Each week we watched a different film and if someone wanted the film to stop for 3 minutes (max) they shouted out.

  1. Japanese black and white gangster film. ‘PIGS AND BATTLESHIPS’ 1961. Shohei Imamura


The main challenge of this project for me was drawing in the dark! I couldn’t see the page and if I took a pen off the page e.g. to change colour – I couldn’t find my way to start in the position on the page I wanted. This was most difficult when using biro and so stronger tools became more important e.g. acrylic pens and felt tip pens. Some colours were also too faint e.g. turquoise. I felt absolutely comfortable focusing on drawing extremely quickly and on movement, without worry about the finished effect – it was fun. I think I chose the only tools I could use under the conditions – they needed to be fluid so that I could work quickly, and colourful so that I could see them – although graphite also worked well and gave rather more control than felt tip pen. Luckily I had 10 weeks on this and so lots of time to try out different ways of working. I like the fact that I tried to capture a general impression of a scene and there is quite a lot happening in each drawing. Generally the drawings feel like a whole composition – I guess that is helped by the fact that the scene is already framed for the viewer. Although the film is black and white I actually feel the subject works better in colour. This film was pretty frenetic and I think I’ve managed to capture some of this here.

2. DAMNATION. Bela Tarr. 1987. Black and white Hungarian film. Long slow shots. Very dark subject.


I loved this film and the drawing. It was perfect for me because it is a very dark film and the shots are very long and very slow – lingering on the scene for minutes at a time. This really helped the drawing because although the shots were frozen for only 3 minutes again, the camera tended to linger on the scene for a little longer after the film was rolling again. So in all these are probably 4 min drawings. I took a brief look at the info online about the film beforehand and saw a couple of stills – I could see that it was a dark subject matter so decided to only draw with black/grey/white medium. I took along pencils, white gouache, black felt tip pen, black biro, black acrylic pen, grey compressed charcoal. I prepared the paper beforehand – prep from left to right above 1. charcoal and rubber. 2. layer of clear gesso over masking tape. 3. dark blue ink with bleach. Bottom row – 4. powdered charcoal and red powdered pigment. 5. light charcoal pencil scribbles and clear gesso. 6. pencil marks, rubber and white gouache. I’m very pleased with these drawings. I think they capture the mood of the film well. I was looking for tonal qualities and blocks of grey/white/black and pattern – I think I managed to get a sense of this. I also like the variety of close -up/more distant views. It seemed a little lighter and easier to see this time – or perhaps because I was using mainly black for drawing it just showed up better. The minimal research i did at the outset was useful preparation and I’ll do this each week in future although i can’t absolutely rely on the film being advertised in the course blurb being the film shown (last week i thought throughout that i was watching ‘Tokyo Story’). nb. I continued drawing on the bottom drawing after the film started again for about 20 mins. the background is liquid graphite with coloured pencil drawn through it. the drawing is made with white gouache, black felt tip pen, charcoal and pencil.

3. TOKYO STORY. 1952. Black and white.


Although this is a black and white film I had a feeling for colour. I again ‘prepared’ my pages beforehand. I thought about Japan and imagined quite a lot of pink, yellow and blue – in fairly pastel colours. I used soft pastels on a couple e.g. the musicians page and at the hairdressers. I also decided to experiment with collage for one of the backgrounds – top row middle – and I think this is really interesting. top left is just brown paper with some red pigment rubbed on it and middle right is pink and yellow dr.martins ink brushed over strips of masking tape. the drawings are mostly done with a black sign pen, black and blue acrylic pens, and felt tip pens.

I chose the colours carefully while the film was playing for each new page – to fit with the colours on the page rather than the film still (since obviously I didn’t know what that was going to as I had no control over it). Its interesting that a lot of the shots in the film are taken in interiors and the interiors tend to have panels on either side with the action taking place in the centre panel.

I love the horizontal and vertical lines in Japanese interiors – the make for interesting compositions and give a sense of coherence to the series. I really like too the narrative sense that these drawings provide. I think they are pretty successful given they are drawn in 4 minutes each

4. REMBRANDT FECIT 1969. Colour.


I like the fact that the drawings for each film reflect the character of the film and feel like a coherent series. I think that partly this is achieved by a limited colour palette. For this film I stuck with black, white, and primary colours, apart from yellow. (the background to the top left drawing is charcoal with some rubber, the middle top is mostly blue pigment rubbed over the page and right on the first row is black ink with copper pigment rubbed on page. In the second row on the left its red pigment with charcoal, the middle second row is green pigment with red ink. Second row right is black willow charcoal and grey compressed charcoal with some red ink . The third row is blue pigment and sepia conte) I again looked up the film before I went but unfortunately found the wrong film -a 1936 film featuring Charles Laughton that was black and white. The film we actually saw was shot with mostly reds/sepia with a lot of black shadow (obviously mirroring the shadow used by rembrandt in his paintings).It’s a terrific film. I have drawn with black felt tip pen, some blue crayon, sepia conte, white marker pen, green ink, red felt tip and red acrylic pen. I’m pretty pleased with the drawings again. I also like the different shots from very close up to more distant. I’ve decided I like drawing people. And I like the looseness that a 3-4 minute drawing demands. I think some of the faces are quite expressive. It’s also possible to get quite a bit of detail in, even within such a short time. Nb the final drawing bottom left is drawn whileI watched the film on vimeo at home – I strictly timed myself again for 4 mins but crucially I was NOT drawing in the dark!

5. World on a wire. Rayner Fassbinder. 4 minute drawings.


Although I really love this activity its difficult to know how to develop the drawings.I would not want to just copy them bigger – they would lose a lot of their spontaneity. I have no idea what this film was about – only that it is a science fiction film and the sets are very beautiful with a lot of turquoise. Top left, middle row right and bottom drawing are closer to the colour palette used throughout the film. The film is shot in glorious colour. For the first two, top row I did some prior work on the paper with felt tip pens and a light wash with water. Top right and middle right are worked on first with chalk pastel, and middle row left and centre are ink. The bottom drawing has some scribbling and a light wash over coloured pencils.All the drawing is with felt tip pen, apart from some white gouache on a couple rubbed on with finger, and some turquoise ink on a couple applied with a paint brush. There’s a bit of black acrylic pen and blue acrylic pen used on two. Bottom left mirror is graphite.


Part five research: Frank Auerbach

Contextual focus point: Frank Auerbach’s portraiture  Frank Auerbach’s approach to portraiture is legendary and through it he makes some very interesting points about the nature of portraiture and of drawing. Research what makes Frank Auerbach’s portraits unique, and how he used the passage of time in them. Think about why he might have done that and make notes about how working from life differs from working from a photograph in terms of the way we experience the time spent (module handbook). 
I saw the Auerbach exhibition at the Tate Britain in March 2016 as well as some of his work in the ‘All Too Human’ exhibition also at Tate Britain in Summer 2018. I have also twice seen the video about Auerbach’s work and process made by his son. I guess we are being asked to look at his work on this module in relation to time because of the fact that in his portrait work, (unlike his work on the environment – two examples of which I include below), he returns to the same portrait over and over again. Auerbach has what may seem a strange way of working on portraits. He has five or so sitter’s including his son, who sit for him once a week, and he works on their portrait over years – returning to the same canvas over and over again. Consequently some of his work, like the charcoal work in the first row, middle, below, has patches stuck on it where the paper has been worked until a hole appears. Other canvasses where he uses oil paint , like the two on the bottom row – centre and right – are half an inch thick with paint. The question for this section of the course, in relation to Auerbach is  what his reworking of the portrait over years, and the time spent with the sitter, adds to the work and to the experience of the viewer as well as why he may have chosen to do this, and how working from life may be different from working from a photograph in terms of time spent.  My first response is that the sitter perceptibly changes over time – particularly since I believe some of his models including his son, have sat for him for over 30 years. Auerbach is therefore responding presumably to the sitter as he or she changes, rather than to an immutable facade. My feeling is that this change in the sitter is probably something that cannot be captured (and Auerbach does not capture) by two dimensional art especially in one portrait. One could of course capture it by painting the same person every year on their birthday in a series of portraits over 30 years. Or it could be captured through photography. A major difference between working from life and working from a photograph is that Auerbach must get to know the sitter intimately. He sees the sitter in every light and from every angle. It’s interesting to hazard a guess about why Auerbach would do this: because I don’t think that the experience of the viewer is enhanced by the fact of Auerbach’s portrait painting practice (UNLESS the viewer knows that these portraits took years which again raises the point I’ve raised before about whether a work of art stands on its own or needs explaining by text. I’d suggest the most powerful visual art doesn’t need text to explain it). My guess is that Auerbach never found the work ‘finished’ to his satisfaction. Perhaps he always wanted to have another go. Perhaps it was a self exploration – to see how he responded to the sitter that day – rather than an exploration of changes in the sitter. Or perhaps it was both – how are my feelings today reflected in what I see in the sitter? this of course is a fascinating exploration for the artist – for the viewer, who is only left with the (presumably now) finished result, all we can experience is our feelings and perceptions of what we see in front of us. The thirty years of work are gone; they cannot ever be  recaptured in a painting.  The only way we can capture time, if at all, is through memory. 

Part four: environmental interventions: project 14: installation

Method: Make a drawing that relates to its environment in a way that creates an interesting dynamic between the artwork and the space around it. Think about ways that drawings could take part in a kind of dialogue with the space they inhabit. Text might be one way, or a drawn object in partnership with its real world equivalent. A drawing of flowers might be positioned behind a vase. A drawing might be used to ‘join up’ the view between two windows.

For this project I decided to continue with a focus on the cave in North Yorkshire. The ‘dialogue’ will be between a small part of the cave and the larger reality of the cave itself. I decided to keep the focus on the idea of ‘Plato’s cave’, which I explored in the previous exercise and which is so relevant to the context we find ourselves in 2020, and particularly today – as I write on 1 november 2020, a second planned lockdown and solitary confinement, for many individuals, was announced by the UK government.

We are asked to look at a plethora of artists at the start of this exercise – It isn’t quite clear to me why some of them were chosen to exemplify an exercise related to environmental interventions. I first looked at the On Line exhibition we were directed to, and took the following quote from it:

Drawing conventionally has been associated with pen, pencil, and paper, but artists have drawn lines on walls, earth, ceramics, fabric, film, and computer screens, with tools ranging from sticks to scrapers to pixels. Looking beyond institutional definitions of the medium, On Line (on view from November 21, 2010 to February 7, 2011) argues for an expanded history of drawing that moves off the page into space and time. Comprising the work of more than one hundred artists, the exhibition charts the radical transformation of the medium between 1910 and 2010, as artists broke down drawing to its core elements, making line the subject of intense exploration: as the path of a moving point or a human body in motion (the dancer tracing dynamic lines across the stage, the wandering artist tracing lines across the land), as an element in a network, and as a boundary—political, cultural, or social.

On Line is organized chronologically in three sections: Surface Tension, featuring the artistic drive to construct and represent movement through line within the flat picture plane; Line Extension, composed of works in which lines extend beyond flatness into real space—that is, into social space; and Confluence, presenting works in which line and background are fused, giving greater significance to the space between lines. In following the development of the meaning of line over the last one hundred years, the exhibition traces it in movement, across disciplines, and as it has been drawn out and rewoven in time and space—inevitably reflecting the interconnection and interdependency that are increasingly both shaping and emerging from a globalized society. Line, like thought, once understood as linear and progressive, has evolved into a kind of network: fluid, simultaneous, indefinite, and open.

MOMA. 2010. On Line: Drawing through the twentieth century.

It’s important to note that many of the drawings referred to as exemplars in this exhibition, were made half a century ago, so the explorations that people engaged in at that time, were new and exciting. This is now a different era and times have changed. Not least, times have changed because the focus on process that was an exciting new movement in the 1960s and 1970s in visual art, dance and music and the Arts generally (and which I was part of and wrote enthusiastically about in education), I now seen as too individualistic and apolitical. The focus on process lacks substance in terms of commentary on a chaotic and increasingly unstable world and this focus seems to me, only possible in a rich, Western capitalist context. There are very few black and minority artists in the exhibition. An exception is the artist Kngwarreye. She was a traditional Australian artist, and of course traditional Australian dot art had a purpose – it was not exploring line or mark making out of context, but was highly symbolic and followed meticulous rules. Dot art represented the knowledge of the Aboriginal people, for example, maps of the land, and aboriginal artwork tells a story – it is not an exploration or lines or marks only for the sake of making an exploration.

Emily Kngwarreye. Ntange Dreaming. 1989.

Grafitti art is also mentioned in this exercise of thinking about drawing in relation to its’ environment. Graffiti and pavement art is often highly political. Grafitti art particularly is a response to urban dilemma’s and usually most prevalent in industrial and run down areas. See these photographs below that were taken by my daughter, artist Tania Khan, when I accompanied her on a location search for her film, ‘Let’s Go’ in run down urban parts of Tower Hamlets; before the Graffiti was removed and the whole area was cleaned up for the Olympic games in 2012.

the Lord Napier, Hackney Wick, where we shot ‘Let’s Go’ and what a nightmare that turned out to be with no electricity and a generator that kept breaking down!
all Images copyright Tania Khan.

As Tania’s images above illustrate, Grafitti art is often accompanied by text that makes some commentary on the state of the world or the state of the artist, who may live, like the artists above, one imagines, in the spaces they are ‘decorating’. Interestingly the bottom photograph is most obviously related to lines in space on this deserted urban wasteland (that we squeezed into through an iron gate). Coming across this tangle of tubes, in a hidden corner of the wasteland, was indeed an amazing sight.

Street artists, like the brilliant American 3D pavement artist, Kurt Wenner, also use their art to bring social messages to the public and often use their art to support particular causes.

Kurt Wenner. Greenpeace – 1 Million Signatures. Brussels. This was commissioned by Greenpeace and refers to the 1 million people who signed a petition from greenpeace calling on the EU Commission to ban genetically modified (GM) crops until a new independent, ethical, scientific body is established to assess their impact.

An informative article about the Polish avant guard artist we are asked to research, Edward Krasinski (1925-2004) can be found here:

He is said to have been interested in the idea of infinity, and he seems to have a certain affinity with blue scotch tape which he used a lot.

Above he seems to use blue scotch tape to connect a series of drawings of objects. Pierrette Bloch is another artist who explores mark making. Both Bloch and Krasinski seem to exhibit their work in the ‘white cube’ so that the context for their work becomes unimportant and the environment itself does not specifically relate to the works. Nor does the culture or time. The mark become context-free and we are invited to experience the mark or the line without contextual interference to give us a hint about what meaning their ‘art’ might have. These ideas are brilliantly outlined by O’Doherty (1976) in his work, ‘Inside the White Cube: the ideology of the Gallery space’.

For me this is outdated and rather ‘precious’. There are different ideas about how knowledge or understanding/meaning are formed. We might, like Kant, argue that humans are rational beings who are born with the ability to work out what things mean out of context. But I think that removing context leaves us in a sterile intellectual world of thought, separated from feeling and action. I think art that focuses on process alone is in danger of dehumanising us, becoming mechanical and in fact could be programmed and produced by a robot. See the work of Pierrette Bloch below. I don’t understand why we are asked to look at her work in an exercise focused on environmental interventions:

The swiss-French artist Bloch is described as using ‘poor’ materials in a variety of online articles about her work (eg., including ‘ ink, paper, mesh, and horsehair’. Strange this should be the case when her contemporary in Paris for many years, Picasso, also did so many works with ink on paper. Perhaps instead of focusing on the cheapness of her materials, we should focus on what she did with them. This seems to be focused on repetition. Is being an ‘artist’ in a specific context, I begin to wonder, an identification that in a different context would be labelled, perhaps, as obsessive compulsive disorder. In other words as I read somewhere, ‘art’ is often what an art gallery owner is persuaded to hang inside.

We are asked, too, to reflect on how far Bourgeois‘ ‘Spider’ can be considered a drawing. Sculpture is interesting in respect to this exercise since it is often commissioned for a specific place. Since I wrote about Bourgeois in some detail for EDM, I will not write in detail about her work again. I saw ‘Spider’ in the Tate several years back – it was commissioned for the Turbine Hall at the Tate modern itself and so should be ‘read’ as saying something about that space . Perhaps all I will say here is that ‘Spider’ is big, like the turbine hall, and that we could agree to call it a ‘drawing’ to the extent that my videos for assignment three and for the exercise on changing the viewer’s perspective of time for Part Five, can be agreed to be drawings. i.e. Spider legs might be considered as lines in the air, just as running water (or calcified running water) might be considered a line in space. And just as video itself might be considered as frame upon frame of horizontal scan lines.

All of part four of this exercise is focused on Victoria and Ingleborough caves in NorthYorkshire, and as I wrote in my previous blog entry, Victoria cave has been the focus of a lot of work for ‘Exploring Drawing Media.’ It is a cave that holds particular fascination for me because firstly it is very close to Settle, where I went to school and near where I grew up, and to where I return every month. Secondly, it is not open to the public and so holds more mystery and adventure. Caves are particularly interesting as entrances into another ‘psychological’ and spiritual ‘space’. Fourthly, this particular cave has been much excavated and written about and has a well documented academic history connected to various animals now extinct, or about to become extinct, including elephants, rhino, hippo, bear and wolves, as well as human usage including possibly as a shrine or link to the ‘underworld’ by Romans, one of whose encampment has been found to be very near. All of the exercises for part four of this module are linked by their focus on Victoria cave (or close-by Ingleborough cave for one of the exercises, which is also the focus for one of the exercises on Time for part five). For this ‘installation’ drawing I chose to respond to a rather out of the way cavern in Victoria cave that is extraordinarily colourful:

The photograph on the right hand side shows the ceiling of this cavern.

I hadn’t quite decided which area of the cave to focus on for this installation drawing until I blew up some of the images above to make the composition slightly less complex;

The colours are really extraordinary. nb I have not changed these in any way. I especially love the touch of turquoise on the top right corner of this one immediately above. I will need to do a lot of experimentation to see if I can get anywhere within miles of the beauty of the intricate patterns and colour. gradations.

This is the one I’ve decided to work on with some further cropping:

I love what I thought were the two bulls heads in the centre. now that I’ve started drawing I think it is a bull’s head and a horses head. I’ll start with some studies to work out the best media to use. coloured pencils? soft pastel? inks? combination of all these? I think a good thing is that my small collection of unison pastels more or less is in this colour palette.

17th september

I’m fascinated by Victoria cave and wondering why I’m so interested, apart from its obvious connotations for Time, and endurance, and its history relating to species that are now either extinct or rapidly becoming extinct. Today though I’m reminded of Plato’s allegory of the cave (in which the humans thought the shadows were real), as a metaphor for our inability to see reality because of our indoctrination into social conventions. I’m wondering if there is some possibility of development between the observational drawings of the cave and/or rocks and my interest in social indoctrination – which has been a topic of constant concern during covid19 lockdown. Perhaps ‘shadows’ hold some clue – of course unlike in Plato’s cave, where there was a fire, in my cave there are no shadows cast because no sunlight.

I found this interesting article on Sea-cave cinema when researching any similarities between how Plato and Sigmund Freud might view ‘the cave’:

(In response to similarities between Plato and Freud I concluded that Plato is arguing for intellect as a guide to reality rather than appearances, whereas Freud, if he considered ‘the cave’ at all might liken it to the dream world of unconscious desires that produce neuroses. Perhaps Carl Jung talked about the cave more directly in his lectures – he saw the cave as a metaphor for the human psyche – a connection to the ‘underworld’ that leads to remembrance, or forgetfulness or to an important test/feat of courage that will develop character.

I’m not sure that this will lead me anywhere for this activity, because time is short, but wanted to record it as a seed for the future.

I began this exercise with some quick drawings using different media.

Experiment 1. pencil drawing.

figure 14.1 Inside Plato’s cave: today, 1 nov, 2020 a new planned lockdown was announced. We forgot that 1000 people go into hospital every day at this time of year with flu. We didn’t notice the WHO organisation statistic recently that flu is down by 98%. Blackwing 602 pencil and koh-i-nor pencil rubber.

Experiment 2. white and black gel pen on grey card.

Figure 14.2. Inside Plato’s cave today, 2nd November 2020, we fear our freedom (Erich Fromm). If we were to be released and lead outside, to be shown the truth, we would strike our liberator and run back screaming, to the safety of our imprisonments.

Experiment 3. woody 3 in 1 with pencil.

Start of drawing in colour. Using woody 3 in 1.

Experiment 4. Soft pastels with ink and dip stick.

figure 14.4. Inside Plato’s cave. soft pastel and jackson’s black ink.

Nb neither drawing above quite finished.

I’m getting interested in the idea of tromp l’oeil. Given that this project is about reality and the allegory of the cave as used by Plato to explain how the unreality of our perceptions (I am of course relating this to the perceived crisis of covid19 – today is the first day of the second round of house arrest or, in newspeak, ‘lockdown’. (5th November 2020). Tonight I am playing around with the idea of images within images, and of course eventually photographed in the cave itself. e.g.

figure 14.5

In fact I decided to go back to the ‘found drawings’ exercise in project 12 for the installation drawing. These were focused on a different cave – ‘Clapham’, which is about 4 miles from Victoria cave – perhaps 3 as the crow flies. Victoria does not have stalagmites or stalagtites, at least in the first 30 or so meters which is as far as I am prepared to go on my own. And the drawing is of stalagtites in Clapham.

Here are preliminary drawings:

I plan to leave this work for now because I want to install and photograph a larger A1 drawing along with the site specific work I am doing for Assignment 4, on world Earth day – April 22nd,2021. I will also photograph it at some point in Clapham, (and it will ‘speak’ better to Clapham Cave than the Victoria cave because the structure I plan to draw is unusual and not found in Victoria) for this exercise I will need to photo in Victoria cave since I don’t think I will have time on April 22nd to go to both caves, and am not certain Clapham Cave will be open after the lockup restrictions for a coronavirus. (Victoria cave is not open to the public, unlike Clapham cave and so there will be no restrictions on me going inside to photograph my work).

Figure 14.7. this is A1 stretched watercolour paper. I started by a rough drawing with Woodie’s crayons which are water soluble and I. brushed over some of the marks with paintbrush dipped in water.
Figure 14.8. A1 drawing . Inside Plato’s Cave: I drew over Woodies with oil pastels and worked into with my finger to blend before making marks by scratching with a nail . The yellow lines are oil pastel added at the end. I also blended some marks with a white woodie crayon and drew over all the white areas with same. I finished by adding some Payne’s grey water based oil paint to darken here and there (I found I didn’t have any black oil pastel so used blue instead). Don’t know what happened to it.!

I like the different colours and marks in the start to this drawing, and I also like the design. My plan is to work on top with one mono print, possibly two mono prints. I feel a touch of gold might be nice but will think about next steps. Although must not think too long. I have 2 weeks exactly until world earth day and I know if I do a mono print with water based printing inks it’s going to take for ever and a day to dry on top of oil pastels. Maybe I should do a mono print tomorrow with water based oil paint which should dry in a few days and then a water based mono print to finish off . I like the bottom left quarter , bit on top left and bottom right narrow strip – I must remember not to leave most of this showing. Top right is most dull and can be livened up with some mono printing as can the stalagtites themselves. Also must remember to work out mirror image if I am to print from tissue paper – which is my plan. Do I need to reverse? I don’t think so if I’m printing from another mono print rather than the actual painted image.

A week later:

I found a great way to do a mono print on top of this background. I put the A1 drawing on my easel and taped on top a piece of clear perspex which luckily was exactly the same size. I used masking tape to mask off the edges and painted on top with water based oil paints. I then used the perspex to print onto a piece of A1 paper and used the paper to print onto the original drawing – so didn’t need to make a mirror image. I was rather nervous about this process and didn’t use enough oil paint. I’m not sure that anyone could even see the difference. But the important thing is that the process works and I always planned to do a second mono print using water based printing inks to get some resist between the oil surface and water based medium. Here are the two drawings so far side by side with the monoprinted version on the right. Very subtle! I think it is slightly richer and a little more depth. I will use slightly more ink on the second mono print but not too much – I like the drawing as it is and only want to build up slightly more depth and pattern. I will use the same process for second mono print of fixing the perspex on top of the drawing.

Above – the drawing with the water based oil paint mono print on top. Again fairly subtle.

First and final ‘draft’ to hopefully show there is rather more depth in the final version. In this version I have done a second mono print on top using Jackson’s water based inks to produce some ‘resist’ between mediums and more interesting mark making:

Figure 14.10. Final A1 drawing – oil pastel drawing, water based oil paint mono print, Final Jackson’s water based printing ink mono print.

Here is the mono print ‘plate’ which is quite pretty:

figure 14.12 mono print plate

I have included some close ups to show how the oil layers are resisting the water based printing ink layer.

figure 14.13
figure 14.14
figure 14.15

This is of course an installation drawing. I will take up to the cave next week to photograph in situ on world earth day – April 22 2021. I plan to leave it attached to the board to make it easier to carry on the trains and over the hills, and to photograph upright, and I hope it does not rain!

April 22 2021 WORLD EARTH DAY

I felt so lucky to be able to walk up to Victoria cave in glorious sunny weather today. I placed the site specific work inside and did a short ritual of apology to the earth for the damage we have done, (see Assignment 4) and I photograph this drawing in situ. I hadn’t initially planned where it would go because it was meant, as I mention above, for Ingelborough cave in Clapham. However, I like it a lot up on this high plateau about 50 feet inside the cave, and about a 12 feet climb up. I was very lucky that the only other person inside the cave was a stranger to me, called Nigel, there to play his recorder in the cave, and I asked his permission to record his playing on the video I made which I will edit and give a link to. Here is the drawing in situ:

Figure . Inside Plato’s Cave.

A short video of the installation:

LO1 demonstrate a rigorous engagement with drawing skills 

I believe that this work demonstrates rigorous engagement with drawing skills. By ‘rigorous’ I understand sustained, focused, critical and determined. This A1 drawing gives evidence of ability to choose medium that are congruent with the subject – I have used oil pastels with layers of mono print using water based oil paint and printing ink with the intention of creating some ‘resist’ between bottom layer and subsequent layers and creating some pattern and texture, as well as rubbing back and drawing into that I think echoes the layers found in the rock strata in the cave. I have also thought carefully about the colour palette and deliberately avoided the strong turquoises and lilacs found in the cave so as not to overwhelm the final image. This is an important drawing for me, intended for an important environment and on an important date – world earth day and I wanted to draw with care and love.

LO2 communicate complex ideas through your practice 

The exercise does justice to this learning objective. I thought carefully about the context, including the date I intended photographing the image. A drawing that ‘speaks’ in some way to its environment is itself a complex idea and for me, the drawing is far more ‘alive’ and interesting in the context of the cave. The cave itself is at a distance from London (about 250 miles) and requires uphill arduous walking across tracks in the fields and then a steep climb. Once inside I went fairly deep and climbed fairly high to photograph the image in this specific part of the cave. All this took planning, determination and care. All of it was fairly complex to organise and execute and I am very happy with the result.

I have done a lot of work on ‘Plato’s cave’ for Investigating drawing – the idea that we are chained inside a cave watching false images and do not want to go outside to see the truth. Indeed that we would attack someone else who went outside to understand the truth and brought it to us. I think this is a complex idea and much of my work, to some extent, is concerned with examining mainstream discourses and narratives and how/who they control and lead to lack of power and surveillance. Titles are therefore important and this is again titled ‘Inside Plato’s Cave’.

LO3 Engagement with experimentation

I like to experiment with different medium and here I have experimented with oil pastel which is a medium I rarely use and feel I would like to use more often. I like to choose the medium that I think is most congruent with the image and in this case I chose oil pastel for three reasons: 1. It is great for scratching into. 2. It is waterproof and I wasn’t sure what the weather would be like on the day I walked over the three miles to the cave. North Yorkshire has a very wet climate. 3. I intended using a water based medium to mono print on top. In fact I did 2 mono prints – one with water based oils and one with water based printing inks – the purpose of this was to experiment with ‘resist’ and patterns created through the resist. I have not used this technique before or read of anyone else using it but it is certainly something I will come back to since I found a great way to make the mono print ‘fit’ the underdrawing by placing perspex on top of the drawing and painting onto that, printing onto another sheet of A1 and using that initial mono print to make another copy onto my drawing – therefore not necessitating a mirror image for the mono print. I think these experimental techniques are suitable for the subject of the image.

LO4 situate, reflect and critique drawing on historical and contemporary contexts and reflect on your own learning

I start my work by looking both at the work of artists suggested in the module documents as well as searching outside of these for other artist who I might relate to and learn from, ether in terms of processes or content. In this particular exercise I have not drawn on historical, but only on contemporary contexts (I do often draw on historical contexts for other work). Key learning here is that I like putting work in unexpected contexts and photographing it in those contexts. I think this adds meaning to the work. I did a considerable amount of preparation work for this larger drawing in a previous exercise on ‘found’ images and I also like to work in series. I will continue to experiment with combining oil pastels and water based mono prints. I note that my work has lead to a ‘performance’ of some kind or other and a final video in a number of exercises on this module, and this is something to remember and explore more in future.

I hope my writing here gives evidence of my ability to reflect on my learning.

References Edward Krasinski. (Accessed July 2020).

MOMA. 2010. On Line: Drawing through the 20th century. (Accessed August 2020).

O’Doherty, B. (1976) Inside the White Cube: the ideology of the Gallery space. San Franscisco: The Lapis Press.


Part four: environment interventions: project 13: Interacting with the environment: heart and sole (sic).

Aim; To create a site specific artwork.


Take a walk in a place you know well and make five different small drawn interactions in the environment using only what you find around you and your own body and without damaging any plants or animals in the process. Try to do things which will affect the way a visitor to the space would perceive it, either by directing their gaze or by changing the qualities of the place. Look at the work of Andy Goldsworthy and reflect on how he uses his own body and movements, and the way he emphasises his own involvement in balance with the natural materials he uses.

We are asked to look at Andy Goldsworthy’s work. Goldsworthy is a Yorkshire man, as I am a Yorkshire woman and spent time in his early years working on a farm – I grew up on a farm in North Yorkshire. Perhaps this fact gives a particular love for the land in the North. Goldsworthy is described as a sculptor, photographer, land artist and environmentalist.

Goldsworthy often uses only his bare hands, teeth, and found tools to prepare and arrange the materials; however, for his permanent sculptures like “Roof”, “Stone River” and “Three Cairns”, “Moonlit Path” (Petworth, West Sussex, 2002) and “Chalk Stones” in the South Downs, near West Dean, West Sussex he has also employed the use of machine tools. To create “Roof”, Goldsworthy worked with his assistant and five British dry-stone wallers, who were used to make sure the structure could withstand time and nature.

Photography plays a crucial role in his art due to its often ephemeral and transient state. According to Goldsworthy, “Each work grows, stays, decays – integral parts of a cycle which the photograph shows at its heights, marking the moment when the work is most alive. There is an intensity about a work at its peak that I hope is expressed in the image. Process and decay are implicit.”[10]


I am interested in the idea of process and decay and have focused on these themes in several previous projects, for example my daily drawings of still life of flowers, bread and tomato to show their decay, and I certainly think that any land art should be made of materials that will decay fairly quickly and not leave any lasting damage to the environment, or else be removed fairly quickly.

It’s important to note that although we are looking at Goldsworthy’s work in relation to environmental interventions, we might equally look at it in relation to Time. Goldsworthy himself talks about working with time in this article:

Andy Goldsworthy: Working with Time

Because he focuses on balance in nature, ephemerality and decay, time must always be a central theme. he also talks about ‘getting beneath the surface of appearance’:

“As with all my work, whether it’s a leaf on a rock or ice on a rock, I’m trying to get beneath the surface appearance of things. Working the surface of a stone is an attempt to understand the internal energy of the stone.: (ibid.

I note that all the examples I chose below (not deliberately) are circular (as is the planet), and pattern and tone play an important part in all apart from the first top left – which relies more on linear qualities and its relationship to its surroundings more impact.

I was originally thinking of using snow for this project. See:

This link above shows examples of Andy Goldsworthy’s work with ice but I was particularly inspired by Simon Beck’s walking drawings because of his dedication to pattern making and his ability to walk so carefully to make what seems such an accurate design:

However, there wasn’t much snow in yorkshire over the winter of 19/20 and I couldn’t get up there when there was a light snow fall. Instead I decided that I’d complete this project on my walk up to Victoria cave for the preliminary site specific recce. I have to admit my heart and sole (sic) were not in this project. I was rather desperately casting around for something to do apart from drawing in the mud, or building a cairn from stone, or making a pattern from the fronds found up on the high land there – all of which left me feeling soleless (sic). The environment is pristine – its a way off the popular walking routes – and I was wishing for a bit of plastic that I could pick up and use to make a point about polluting the environment, when my eye alighted on a broken sole. Immediately phrases connected with sole as well as soul came to mind and I decided to use both words interchangeably although sometimes incorrectly. Titles are crucial to the following interventions:

Figure 4.2.1 The Soul mates or maybe ‘sole to soul’ . Interesting how the pattern on the stone almost echoes the tread on the sole.
figure 4.2.2. the Sole Protector
Figure 4.2.3. the life and sole
figure 4.2.4 the broken soul
Figure 4.2.5 the Lost soul


I have not stuck rigidly to the project brief. Firstly I understand the interventions were to be left in place. But I only had 1 sole! And I didn’t want to leave it littering up the countryside and took it home with me as I’d also become rather attached to it. I doubt a viewer would notice my soul (sic) in the environment because they’d more likely be looking for the entrance to the cave. they would likely not see the soul (sic) under their nose. Or if they did see it I think they would think it had been left their by chance and was unremarkable.

In relation to how I felt about making interventions on changes to the environment, we do this every day of course. Every time we walk outside we leave footprints, or we tread on a snail and kill it or we break the stalks of grass. We leave behind our litter and we move things about, for example, we might pick up a stone and throw it, or we might pick up a stout stick to help us walk and then discard it. Human beings leave a heavy ‘footfall’ on their environment, which is partly why I enjoyed using the sole as a symbol of this footfall. So on the one hand I feel angry that so many humans are so thoughtless about their environment and care little how much they damage it. On the other hand I have a strong belief in the ability of the environment to regenerate and recover – one only has to see how quickly a fallen cottage, for example, quickly becomes integrated back into the landscape and how quickly human scars on the landscape are healed:

It would be best, it goes without saying, if human beings saw themselves as protectors of the environment and the other life forms on it, but in the end my guess is that it will be the planet that survives and flourishes long after human beings have become extinct.

It might of course be argued that this sole is not a drawn intervention. I hasten to argue that it is. My sole has pattern, texture and marks. And I have placed it in such a way that I think it makes an interesting composition. As I write above, I also think that the idea of a sole in relation to the environment is interesting in itself – it makes me think about trampling on the earth and on things that can be easily broken and I think it could be the start of an environmental project. Anyway I kept my soul.


Part four: Environmental Interventions: PROJECT 12: Found Images.


Method: Collect photos and sketches of drawings in nature. think about how to use as mark making or starting point for a drawing.

I photographed ‘drawings’ in two different locations for this project. The first group of photos below were taken in Victoria cave above Settle.

The second group were taken in Ingleborough cave above Clapham – about five miles west of Settle:

I decided to use the drawings from Ingleborough as inspiration. I thought it would be nice to include a quick sketch I made of the light (in terms of both tone and subject) exterior of Ingleborough beneath which the caves and tunnels run, before I turned to the rather darker interior (again in terms of tone but also subject). Perhaps a reminder of the fact that the exterior often belies what is underneath:

figure 4.1.1. biro, resist, ink

I started the cave drawings with a quick biro sketch:

figure 4.1.2. quick biro sketch on lined paper.

I always enjoy learning more about different media and I continued this exercise by doing four quick experimental sketches.

Experiment 1.

The first one started with a layer of black gouache with a little white left, centre right of the drawing. I built up layers of other colours – all gouache, and discovered if I’m very quick indeed I can stratch through the gouache – today is 30 degrees in London and the gouache dries within seconds. I really like using gouache and should use it more. It would be good to contrast it with a shiny media, like enamel or household gloss paint.

figure 4.1.3.b. cave 1.gouache and resist before the final layer of yellow-white gouache. finished with a little white and black gel biro (eg black concentre left rocks.)

Experiment 2

This second drawing is all ink, finishing with white and black gel biro. I started with Jackson’s white ink and added a little cornellison’s sepia, a dash of pink and yellow ink. then added other coloured inks to the mix and build up in layers. Ending with jackson’s black ink and more sepia, applied with a dip pen.

figure 4.1.4b. Ink (Jackson’s white mixed with a little sepia, or pink and/or yellow). Jackson’s black. cornellison’s sepia. white and black gel biro. nb. greyish marks top right and in line next to pink bottom left is black zig-zag biro with white gel biro zig zag over top then smeared, and gone over with white biro. I lime some of the marks in the central ‘black holes’ here. I think the addition of a bit of white biro brings it alive.

Fun playing around changing the colours:

Experiment 3

This started with a layer of acrylic paint in black/purple/blue. The second layer is soft pastel with some charcoal and biro, as well as jackson’s black ink added: