Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Life drawing at Fabrica

Week 2 Life drawing at Fabrica - "The House of Vernacular"

Having the opportunity to draw in this amazing installation has had a really good impact on everyone, from the interesting constraints of space (I'm thinking of the airplane fuselage room) to the drastically changing atmospheres, lighting and textures from one room to the next. The increased stimulus for models having something to work with instead of the usual studio type room seemed to renew the whole drawing experience. Infact there have been too many effects to list here, I will never finish this blog if I go into all of it.

In the second week I set an exercise which came from wondering how to get 9 people, a model and a fire safely and comfortably in one room of The House of Vernacular. I decided to split everyone into two groups one in 'Brazil' warmly lit, and one in 'Corinthians' lit only by a carousel projector.

I asked the model Amanda to move between the two rooms spending 10 minutes in each at a time. This meant each room spent 10 minutes without her too. The challenge, to continue working on the drawing after the model had left the room and to notice and act on what the significance of that might be, in the focus of the drawing, knowledge of the body, the atmospheric change in the space - right down to the disturbance of air when she exited.

I was unsure of how well this would work but I wanted to use the challenges of holding a life drawing session in the installation to my advantage, in a different way every week.

The period between the models appearances became a short time of reflection on the drawing in spontaneous group discussions after which everyone continued to draw. We don't usually break for talking during the work so I was pleased that this exercise provoked a change. The discussions arose directly from the drawings in the moment of drawing, people were still involved and were able to articulate very specific insights about what they were doing and trying to do.

I always need to try things out with people before understanding the effects, then I can adapt and alter the situation with the participants. This group is really responsive to trying out ideas with me, they suggest things they'd like to try and they're always willing to experiment, if something doesn't work we change course. We work together in an 'experiment, explore and respond' sort of way.

The exercise continued for about 2 hours and ended with us talking about the difference between making a drawing and making a study, and about the fear of the 'lie' in drawing when moving away from literal observation. It was interesting to hear why people are fearful about expanding upon what is observed solely with the eye, and begin to explore what one feels through the body and senses and how to put that on paper.

It's a recurrent subject, but I find you can only begin to understand something fully when you meet it in different ways. I suppose that's partly how I see my role as a drawing facilitator - presenting things in new contexts in order that they may be approached from a new perspective each time. What comes out of this method is varied and often unexpected, there is always new material to work with in the future.

One drawer said at the end "I love working in this space, it's so different, it's invigorated us."

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