Responding to the challenging title of (IN)Organic, drawing and mark making as a thinking process focused my mind as to the many possibilities this concept offered. January 2018 turned into an intense period of visual research.
Where to start to unravel the brief? I chose to work with water (inorganic) and cellular leaf structures (organic): opposites which through photosynthesis, thrive.
Visions of drought-stricken landscape with plant forms struggling to survive resonated with me as both an artist and a gardener. Water as a life giver and life starved of water. Without water, plants become shadowy forms, parched by drought.
Originally conceived as drawing for print, these new drawing have been put on one side to be developed at a later stage on a grand scale.
My starting point was to make a series of inky, watery surfaces rather than work directly onto white paper. Left outside in the rain the inks were allowed to run, drip, pool.
Moving on the first set of A3, mixed media visuals referenced close up images of cellular structures in leaf forms. At the same time reminding myself of the principles of photosynthesis and the process of water movement through plants and that every living thing needs food and energy to survive. On a visual level the cellular structures were suggestive of nets and knit structures.
The problem I have with this set of work is a singular lack of energy and vigor. They felt cramped, almost diagrammatic and too literal. It was at least a starting point and a focus. Noting that dried plant forms on my studio window ledge casting strong shadows and that I had a copious supply of unused watery backgrounds the next set of visuals were made quickly, standing up to draw and trying not to be precious about the marks I was making.
Moving back to more considered mark making this next group of studies lost something of the freedom of the previous pieces, becoming more labored and lacking in energy.
A change of scale and media reinvigorated what was in danger of turning back into a series of safe and predicable marks. Working in monochrome, paper size 100cm x 70cm with a variety of dense black graphite pencils, water colour sticks and pure graphite these final pieces were worked quickly: chasing the shadows as they moved, elongated, changed in the way the edges of the shadowy plant forms became softer or harder, smudging the soft graphite, working the tones from dark to light, turning the paper to create composite, layered images.
Working on this scale has freed up my thinking and more than any thing else suggested many directions for further development into printmaking onto paper, cloth and other surfaces.
CONNECTING THREADS March 17th 2018
Parchment 2018 A relief surface 170cm x 62cm constructed of hand made silk papers, digital and hand stitching which spoke to me about parched landscapes.
Coming full circle, water and cellular leaf structures were my original starting point for interpreting the concept of INOrganic. As noted above opposites which through photosynthesis, thrive. Without water, plants become shadowy forms, parched by drought.
The initial period of intense drawing helped to make sense of the concept of InOrganic, informing the direction of Parchment 2018 but not the main visual content.
The latter already existed in embryonic from, in the experimental stitch and silk paper samples not yet completed into finished works (see Work in Progress 2017). Standing back from this practical textile work, making new drawing gave a space to process what had gone before.
Indicative of my organic making process, where one thing leads to another, there are several strand to my practice which connect on many different levels BUT not all in the same piece of work. A decision needed to be made quickly as to whether to develop the shadowy drawings into print onto cloth or construct surfaces around the idea of parched landscapes
To do justice to the former I wanted to work on a grand scale. Lacking in the facilities to produce traditional screen prints on this scale or the timescale to create digital prints with screen printed interventions I chose the constructed option.
It is knowing which elements to develop to solve a particular visual problem, and at the same time having enough self discipline to dispense for the time being with other elements. I am thinking here of the large scale visuals shown above which I will return to at a later date.
The final part of the process focused on adding, subtracting, combining, simplifying so that every element of the work is necessary for the piece as a whole and a personal response to the concept of INOrganic. You can see detailed images of this piece in my Gallery page on this website Stitched and Printed Paper Structures
An added bonus is the image bank of visual studies ripe for translation and development into new works yet to be decided.