I have often said that drawing is my first language, English my second and Stitching my third, and I can’t now remember a time when I did not draw. So it is a real pleasure that my latest work (working title – the Daphne Tree) that I am making for an exhibition Pairings, with my partner Rachel Kelly has involved all types of drawing, from scribbled notes on the scrap paper made on trains to laser etched vellum.
Rachel and I are making a single piece of work using the idea of the game of consequences; we are reacting to each others work, developing a figure turning into a tree. I drew the figure, Rachel drew the “bark on shoji paper, then I sent the collaged bark drawing back to her and so we go on…but before this second step I had to make several large drawings to establish the figure – she needs to look like she is being stretched and frightened and also looking sort of tree shaped….I had problems with the legs – getting the stretch in the calves was crucial – the first drawings were useless they looked like she was floating. I always use cheap rolls of lining paper used for decorating for any large scale rough drawings
I had to work on her feet, they were supposed to be burrowing into the ground taking root, the drawings look really nasty like she has been burned, but they are starting to look forceful and like they could penetrate the earth. in fact they look like they have been dug out of the earth….But it is the head that has to be looking as if it is in shock at the moment that it is turned into tree bark and the hair to leaves.
The final drawing for this transition or metamorphosis, has to be exact for it to be then transferred and later translated into other materials and different types of drawing – and this re-drawing with a tracing wheel is just as crucial as all the drawings that have gone before.
So eventually Rachel and I have met up to develop the drawings, I have taken my large sheet of vellum, that I have been kindly given to work this project with, by Kemin Nahkatarvike oy the Finnish Leather and Fur manufacturing company. We are now sampling all sorts of other material that we may use in the final piece – we need to sample all the stuff to see how we can laser these drawings onto the various surfaces…but first more drawings are developed by Rachel – on a computer.
The results were not exactly what we wanted – well not for this project ….
The drawing into hand – made paper was more successful even though we lost some of the surface petals – but we had to hand-draw and cut the stencil that acted as a shield for the burnt area of laser etching
laser drawing on hand made paper with embedded petals
But meanwhile Rachel and I were busy thinking and drawing out the next stage of the work – this is only the trunk of the tree – now we had to imagine the canopy. I had scribbled some ideas down on the train to Manchester, I don’t know what it is about trains but they always make me very imaginative, I get lots of ideas on train journeys.
I drew this in Biro – I really like Biro to draw with as it can make a very elegant mark; but actually it was all I could find in my handbag to work with. It shows how I envisaged the next stage of the work – the canopy. But when I got to Manchester we had to really start to consider the various stages for the design drawings, so we stretched out our combined drawing along side the samples we created with the laser
Then while Rachel dealt with the computer drawings – did I mention that she is a technological wonder woman? I dealt with the tracings of the original figure.
I had to make quite a few different typed of marks to translate into the separate systems that we needed to translate the original drawings into computer aided drawings
When we met up between tasks or at lunch, we talked of the next stage – how will we develop the canopy? I thought we could applique some printed versions of old flower bird or leaf designs from our separate practices, as used in old American chintz patchworks and quilts. And chintz seems to be where we are going next…but the during her morning train journey into work Rachel drew this( below) in her note book.
And now we are at last ready to start to introduce the missing element for us both – colour, but that needs a new set of research drawings….