During the lockdown, I joined a small group of fellow printmakers from Shadwell Print Studio on a test online course, which was all about printmaking at home with basic materials. In rediscovering frottage and printmaking without a press, I honed a relief printmaker's sharp eye for collecting printable textured surfaces, which is how the packing tape that I used for the mark making in these charcoal rubbings found a home in my studio.
The postcard image below was another starting point – I’ve had it
for years, since I lived in Thailand in the 90s.
The rickety bridge particularly resonated with me, although a language of my own, of makeshift and collapse, emerged in my drawings: provisional, improvised, falling apart buildings, bridges, anonymous and abandoned shelters without human figures.
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold/
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
My drawing and illustration practice is based on paying
attention, in really taking the time to see and honour a certain kind of will
to life, radiance and energy in the natural world. In these
drawings, the will is towards dissolution, falling apart and decay, although it is part of 'nature' too, just not as we romantically define it. Arguably, our homes,
factories, highways and shanty towns are no less part of the natural world. Although I would mostly prefer to think otherwise, they
are made of earth, iron, tin, oil and plastic, which came from the same place
as every other thing we revere, after all. They too arise, and pass away. There is no thing on this planet that isn't subject to that natural law. Anthropogenic or otherwise.
In this upside-down time, the pandemic has exposed fault lines in the way we regard and sustain what we revere as 'nature', for sure. The cracks are harder and harder to ignore.
Also, I have been thinking about the place of the trickster figure as a metaphor for the coronavirus, about how we need to get used to shape shifting, to the makeshift adaptations to how we live and relate to our world, which will clearly never be the same. Which anyway never was the same, from one moment to the next or from one point of view to the next. (As a person who draws and pays attention, and also as a meditator, I know that to be true for me).
The climate and ecological crisis similarly continues to unfold and unleash havoc whether we choose to look in the eye or not, and it too brings rapid, unceasing change. Upsiding down our normals. We are already adapting and things are already makeshift in many parts of the world.
I have no
that we can fix things outright at all, but I am committed to looking the change in the eye, and appreciating the inherent will to life and energy contained in it either way. It feels a relief to be able to make work reflecting that and to incorporate the falling apartness of things into my practice more consciously.