Category Archives: Drawing 2

Phyllida Barlow in conversation with Louisa Buck

Phyllida Barlow produces monumental installation work, which is all about texture, surface, the sensation of scale, and precariousness. Her work is very different to my own, but on a visit to her exhibition at the Hepworth, I enjoyed her pieces and found some similarities in her interest in surface texture. So I jumped at the chance to go to a talk between her and Louisa Buck at Leeds Beckett University as part of the Yorkshire Sculpture International.

Some definitions cropped up early on in the discussion. Barlow thinks it is pointless to define ‘sculpture’, she thinks of sculpture more as a language, which then takes it into a realm beyond physical works and explains why you now get video or smells/sounds as sculptures. She also feels she has no idea what ‘conceptual’ is, which is encouraging!

She sees her work as an active protagonist once installed. However, she doesn’t think about the audience when she makes the work. Work is made specifically for places, but it is the dimensions of the space which are critical, it is not site specific, but it is fitted to the dimensions.

She likes making work which is about the experience, looking quickly and leaving behind a memory for the viewer is enough for her. But she feels that sculpture is not passive. Audiences have to be very involved to get anything out of it.

Her works make associations to do with actions, rolling or pulling, etc. and the surfaces are developed after that. She likes to portray qualities of weight, gravity, precariousness or absurdity. Her works aren’t specific forms that are planned in advance. She doesn’t know what the subject of her work is whilst she is making it, the subject is embedded in the making, even the accidents which happen. She likes ambiguity, the feeling of change and not knowing if a work is finished. Nothing for her is conclusively finished.

She draws throughout the making process. She finds it is a way of gathering information and an escape from the making process. Drawing for her is about the memory of form and colour, about the process of losing information. She feels this also passes into sculpture and that is also about losing information and the transitory experience whilst viewing.

Issues emerge in her work because of the psychological influences on her, not through setting out to make ideological work.

Her use of colour began from viewing how colour was used on the streets to draw attention and she borrowed this for her work. Colour is often used to mark where other pieces are to go, or where further work was required and was intended to be covered up later. The remains of this started to alter the work and this was then affected in other works. This is the embracing of happy accidents which I can associate with.

It was great to have the opportunity to hear a sculptor discussing their work like this and I will try to get to some of the other talks taking place in the next few months.

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Exhibition Visit – ‘Leonardo Da Vinci: A Life in Drawing’ at Leeds Art Gallery

This was an exhibition of some of Leonardo’s sketchbook pages, focusing on his sculptural work. It was incredible to me to read about and see the lengths he went to to research and plan his works, with so many failing to come to fruition because he was pulled off onto a new project before he got there.

One of the sketchbook pages was for casting the Sforza monument, a huge bronze horse commissioned by the ruler of Milan, Ludovico Sforza, in memory of his father. It was to be made of 75 tons of bronze and required a foundry to be built on site just to cast it. Leonardo got as far as making the full sized clay model before the threat of invasion meant that the bronze was requisitioned to make cannon and the project was suspended. When the French invaded five years later, the clay horse was used as target practice by the troops and destroyed, which must have been distressing to him.

The sketchbook pages show Leonardo’s plans for casting the sculpture with the sprues needed to feed in the bronze, how the work would be joined together with tie-bars, designs for the foundry and also a lifting mechanism to get the statues out of the ground after casting it, as well as some notes and some poetry. The drawings show great skill and are very modern in their use of perspective. They are small and crammed onto the page, with little of the paper’s surface wasted and were obviously designed for his eyes only.

His studies of a sectioned skull are exceptional in their detail and skill in rendering. They were studies to help him to understand the proportions and structure of the skull and very beautiful drawings. If I saw them in a text book I would have imagined the originals to be much larger and shrunk down, he must have had very good eyesight and steady hands to have achieved this level of detail at this scale.

A fascinating exhibition and I hope to see more of the concurrent exhibitions whilst they are on.

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Project 3: Installation Research

Installative drawings seem to either be very large in scale and demand the viewer imerse themselves in the work, or bridge the gap between drawing and sculpture by extending line from the flat plane of a 2D drawing into 3D space.

Installation art as defined by the Tate is “large-scale, mixed-media constructions, often designed for a specific place or for a temporary period of time” (Tate, n.d.). The focus is on the viewer’s experience of the work.

Robert Rauschenberg’s ‘Automobile Tire Print, 1953’ is a long tyre track made by a car driving through a pool of black paint and then along a strip of paper (, 2010). This work is all about scale and the randomness from semi-controlled mark making. I guess as an installation drawing it qualifies by its large size.


Some similar scale drawings recently viewed in Leeds Art Gallery by Peter Randall-Page ‘Fruiting Bodies, 1990’ show that scale does make a difference. These are large impressive drawings which show energy in the curved lines and look great as a set covering the entire wall. On closer inspection, there is very little variation in mark making on the coiled forms, but they still work. This was the first time I had come across Randall-Page’s drawings and for me they work better than his sculptures which I find too precise and lacking in life.

Alexander Calder produced work using wire which he considered to be three-dimensional line drawing (Calder, 1929). Where the distinction is between sculpture and drawing seems to have been blurred. His ‘A Universe, 1934’ was included in the On Line drawing exhibition (, 2010) when I would consider this more of a sculpture. Despite it being made up of ‘drawn’ lines using wire, it is more of a 3D object. Similarly, the course notes question whether sculptures such as Louise Bourgeois ‘Spider, 1995’ could be argued to be a drawing? I would say that it is only because the spider’s legs are thin like Calder’s use of wire that this is being suggested, make them fatter and I suspect that no such suggestion would be made. I stand in the sculpture camp.

Some 3D works are more in the drawing camp though. Pierrette Bloch’s ‘Fil de crin (Horsehair Line), 1988–1997’ is a drawing in horsehair and nylon, brought forward from the picture plane and responsive to the air movement around it (Enrico, 2011). Eva Hesse extended line from a frame in ‘Hang Up, 1966’ and Edward Krasinski in his installation at the 1970 Tokyo Biennial extended lines out onto the gallery floor.

Installation drawing should therefore either be large in scale so immersing the viewer in the work, or there should be a focus on the environment in which the work is placed and a dialog between the drawing and this.


Calder, A. (1929). Statement on wire sculpture. [Manuscript], Calder Foundation archives.

Enrico (2011). Pierrette Bloch Retrospective at Galerie Karsten Greve, Paris. Available at: [Accessed 5 Mar. 2019]. (2010). On Line: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 Mar. 2019].

Tate. (n.d.). Installation art – Art Term | Tate. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 Mar. 2019].

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Assignment 3 Tutor Feedback


My tutor has identified that I have not fully engaged with the course in this part and have put up barriers rather than working out how to fit the exercises to me. I need to find a way in to take risks with my drawings and complete a fuller body of work in the next stage.

My research needs to be expanded, placed in the context of its time and linked more to contemporary practice. I need to research wider to find a way into the exercises and assignments



My tutor suggested I look at a number of different artists and I researched two of these.


Rirkrit Tiravanija

Looking at his work initially, I thought that this was an artist I wasn’t going to be able to understand! His early work which formed on of his best known series (, n.d.) was ‘untitled 1990 (pad thai), 1990’, where he cooked for the audience. Said to be blurring the boundaries between art and life, making art come alive and making the audience part of the work, I struggle to see how this work is art.

However, on watching this video (Bloomberg, 2018), his work ‘untitled 2010 (who’s afraid of red, yellow and green), 2010’ where he collected newspaper images of protests in Thailand and got local art students to cover the wall in drawings of these, which was added to each day. In the gallery, he served red, yellow and green thai curry, referencing the colours emblematic of the opposing sides in the political unrest at the time of the exhibition, asking why people are afraid of each other. He took no side, but asked people to think about the issues

For ‘untitled 2015 (14,086 unfired), 2015’, bricklayers were employed to work in the gallery to produce bricks stamped with the message ‘Stop to work’, highlighting the irony of modern day life in our quest to get higher and higher paid jobs without questioning why we are doing it.

I see more of a point with these later works (and appreciate that the earlier works fed into these), but I do struggle with accepting these kind of works as ‘art’ and read them more as philosophy. I accept that the modern art world doesn’t agree with me here, but my belief is that there should be some form of visual beauty in a work for it to be ‘art’. Interesting to research into, but not the direction I wish to take my work in.


Mona Hatoum

Hatoum started out with performance art and now works in a wide variety of media. Three of her pieces I particularly like are looked at below.

‘Map (clear), 2015’ has an obvious appeal to me with my love of maps. As an installation it work very well and it seems to be saying that all places are equal, but borders and divisions are unstable and liable to move.

‘Impenetrable, 2009’ reminds me of Cornelia Parker’s work, although it is actually referencing Jesús Rafael Soto’s series of Penetrables (Lūse, 2016) and turning his inviting interactive work on its head by replacing plastic tubes with barbed wire rods.

‘Light Sentence, 1992’ also reminds me of Cornelia Parker’s ‘Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View’, with the moving light bulb throwing interesting shadows on the gallery walls.

I like Hatoum’s work. They have a message, but it isn’t too deep to be impenetrable like many modern artists I come across in my research, and appearance and form are important to her and this comes across in her work (Cooke, 2016).


Bloomberg (2018). Rirkrit Tiravanjia on ‘Brilliant Ideas’.  Available at: [Accessed 4 Mar. 2019].

Cooke, R. (2016). Mona Hatoum: ‘It’s all luck. I feel things happen accidentally’. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 4 Mar. 2019]. (n.d.). Rirkrit Tiravanija. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Mar. 2019].

Lūse, P. (2016). “Oh, Mona!”. [online] Available at:,_mona/ [Accessed 4 Mar. 2019].

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Project 2: Interacting with the environment

The idea of this project was to make five different small drawn interactions in the environment using only what you find around you.

This was great fun and a return to the simple ‘play’ of childhood.

First piece – Berries around a rock on the footpath. Highlighting a feature which would normally just be noticed as a hazard to step over whilst people walked along the track.

Env Int 1a Env Int 1b


Second piece – Circle of berries in a rock pool. Highlighting a feature which already exists, using natural bright bold colour to ‘colour-in’ the feature to bring it to the viewer’s attention.

Env Int 2a Env Int 2b


Third piece – Crack in the rock highlighted with pebbles.


Env Int 3a Env Int 3b

Fourth piece – Rock pool with yellow leaves.


Env Int 4a Env Int 4b

Fifth piece – Ash keys on a mossy rock. This is more about bending nature to my will than working with existing features.

Env Int 5a Env Int 5b


Sixth piece – Cleared path through fallen leaves. This is a simple intervention to create a path around a tree, inviting passers by to deviate from their route to view the tree from all angles. This piece stayed visible for many weeks which was quite surprising.


Env Int 6a Env Int 6b


I enjoyed making works in the environment, as well as directing the eye of passing people, it also prompted me to look closer at the area, in finding ways I could interact with it and materials with which to do so. It wasn’t always easy to make the materials do what I wanted them to do, but it was very satisfying to finish an interaction and leave it behind for people to find (or not). I also returned to the sites to see how time had started to remove the works.

One of the questions was how do I think the viewer experiences this kind of art and will they know what I have done is art. After making the first piece surrounding the stone with berries and collecting leaves for fourth piece, I got talking to a walker about leaves and he asked if I’d seen the berries around the stone. On saying that yes, I’d created it, he said that it had made his day coming across it! It was great to get such an immediate response like this to my work.

Producing work in the environment is all about making people look twice, something which I believe is the main purpose of art, opening people’s eyes to what is around them and making them question “why?”.

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Project 1: Found images

This project was all about collecting photographs and sketches of nature’s drawings (or urban processes).

I found that it was the patterns in rocks or rusty metal/paint peeling wood which attracted me the most.

A selection of my found images based on decay – peeling paint, wallpaper and rust :

Paint Rust 1 Paint Rust 2 Paint Rust 6Decaying House 1 Decaying House 2 Decaying House 3 Decaying House 4 Rust 1

Vertically panned trees:

Panned trees 1 Panned trees 2

Patterns in sand:

Sand 1 Sand 2

Rock patterns:

Rock 1 Rock 2 Rock 3 Rock 4Rock 5 Rock 6 Rock 7 Rock 8Rock 9

Some of the rock and sand images, remind me of Ernesto Neto’s drawings such as ‘Mito n’Água, 2009’, ‘Untitled, 1999’ (Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel, 2013) or ‘Untitled, 1999’ (kunzt.gallert, n.d.).

I tried some drawings based on these images, using the patterns in the rocks and sand, mostly using ink:

Rock pattern sketches

Rock drawing 1Rock drawing 2


Using found drawings can be a good way of discovering a pattern, texture or shape which would otherwise go unnoticed and provide a library of inspiration for future drawings.

I used to be a photographer – something I have left behind me, at least for the moment. The art of photography is in noticing what is there in front of you and how elements fit together to form an image that ‘works’. Noticing found drawings is the same as this, it is all about paying attention to what is around you and realising that something makes an interesting shape or line. The only control you have over drawings like this is in the framing of the photograph.


Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel. (2013). Linha da vida – Exhibitions – Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel. [online] Available at: [Accessed 29 Nov. 2018].

kunzt.gallert. (n.d.). Untitled. [online] Available at: [Accessed 29 Nov. 2018].

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Exhibition Visit: ‘Giuseppe Penone: A Tree in the Wood’ at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Giuseppe Penone is an Italian sculptor who has had a long history of working with wood and other natural materials, creating works which address the relationship between man and nature.

In the wood

One of the first pieces you see as you enter the underground gallery is ‘Nel legno (In the wood), 2008’. Here he has taken a large larch wood beam, selected a single growth ring and carved it back to this ring, revealing the sapling hidden inside.

Matrix 1 Matrix 2

In a similar vein, the centrepiece of the exhibition is ‘Matrice (Matrix), 2015’. Here he has done the reverse and cut a fir tree along its length and hollowed it out to a selected growth ring. At one point along its length, there is a bronze cast of the complete interior of the growth ring.

These and similar pieces are extremely impressive. They have scale, skilful craftsmanship, beauty of form and a message in discovering exploring the beauty of form within a tree and exploring different moments in its lifetime.

With eyes closed 1 With eyes closed 2 Body of stone - grid 1 Body of stone - grid 2

I also enjoyed his wall pieces, his carving of marble to raise the natural veins and highlight their natural beauty, using thousands of acacia thorns to draw his closed eyelids in ‘A occhi chiusi (With eyes closed), 2009’, or making it look like a steel grid had been pressed into marble in ‘Corpo di pietra – rete (Body of stone – grid), 2016’.

However, as a craftsman working with bronze, some of his pieces grated with me.

Body of stone - branches

‘Corpo di pietra – rami (Body of stone – branches), 2016’ is a beautiful piece in its overall impression. But when you examine it closely (which unfortunately I didn’t photograph), the protruding bronze twigs were as they would have been picked up from the foundry floor. They were jaggedly cut off and had flashing left on them, which for me detracted from the piece. On the other hand, due to its scale it was a piece which was designed to be viewed from afar, so maybe I am being picky here.

Light and shadow

His life-size sculptures of trees supporting boulders were a different matter though, such as ‘Luce e ombra (Light and shadow), 2014’. Again on close inspection the poor finish on the welded joints annoyed me. More importantly though, for an artist whose oeuvre is all about trees, celebrating their beauty and exploring nature and the natural, the patina on these sculptures makes them look dull and dead. If that was the intention / message he was trying to convey then that is fine, but I don’t believe that to be the case, so for me these pieces fail.

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Assignment 3 Reflection

I struggled through this stage of the course as a lot of the projects held little appeal as they are very different to how I approach drawing. I worked through them, as often interesting work can result from unexpected directions, but the only project which directly clicked for me was the one on drawing machines. I am more scientific / technical and less inclined to draw from my emotions, which is what a lot of this stage of the course required. I probably didn’t push it as far as I could, but when my heart isn’t in it, it is hard to do that.

With the final drawings, the ones from the drawing machines project and the assignment piece hold the most appeal to me. Only the drawing from the first drawing machine feels like a complete and cohesive image though.

With rust printing, burning, ink and charcoal, and the combination of random and non-random mark making, I feel like I have found the materials and methods I enjoy working with. I think I need to experiment more with these though to achieve results I am happier with. I think it is the non-random mark making and the way of tying the two together which is where I need to focus my efforts. One issue which I think is holding me back is that I enjoy the results of rust printing, use expensive paper and only get a few copies. This means that I am far too precious about the drawings when they are only half complete and that is stifling what I then do with them. I plan to produce a large number of small works as part of my parallel project and spend time experimenting more with these without worrying about the final outcome.

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Assignment three

The course calls for an emotional response to a piece of music and suggests drawing whilst listening to the music in an immediate response to it. I am going to do this differently and do a more lengthy, thought out response to a piece of music. This is more in keeping with the way I work and also it allows me to continue with my previous experiments with rust printing, which require time to complete.

Music chosen:- Peter Gunn (feat. Duanne Eddy) by Art of Noise.

I have no knowledge of the TV series this was a theme tune for, so my response comes from the music without this background. It obviously has a car driving influence, from the constant rhythm which brings to mind the noise of driving over sections of road. A screeching wheel spin sound is also used at one point which reinforces this. For me, I also have the background of listening to this tune whilst playing a car racing game called ‘Spy Hunter’ (, n.d.) on the BBC in my childhood.

My plan was to combine rust printing, ink drawing and possibly watercolour to create my piece. I have been mulling over the design of this for many months and listening to the track on and off during this time. The main element of the drawing was going to be a car wheel, with musical elements running throughout it.

I devised a compass from a bit of metal tube and a magnet to allow me to work on a big scale and scribed on the design.

A3 ScribingA3 ScribedA3 v2 rusting

The resulting rust print:

A3 v2 print

I was aiming to add musical elements such as extracts from the music score, words, spectrograms or waveforms. However I decided that the first two looked contrived and I couldn’t get a clear spectrogram from any of the music. The waveform looked the most promising option. This was added to the first print, but more in a random way than replicating sections of the music. Another line which felt to me like a representation of the music (but I don’t think has any basis) was also added. Charcoal was used around the edge, smudged into the picture in a way which I felt to work with the music.

The music has some sharp forceful sections which felt to me like splats of bold colour. I experimented and ending up dropping ink from a height onto the paper. These were a bit smaller that the bold splats I had in mind, so maybe I should have experimented more before committing myself.

The resulting image:

A3 final

References (n.d.). Spy Hunter. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Aug. 2018].

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Contextual focus point: Erased De Kooning

This work is an image of some faint lines and shading, in a simple frame with the following text added:


On initial inspection the main feeling is of curiousness about the image which was erased, there is nothing else there to interest you. Without the title it is just a blank piece of paper.

Rauchenburg was seeking an answer to the question of whether a work of art could be made through erasure. Could a blank sheet of paper be considered a work of art? He had tried erasing one of his own drawings, but felt it was unsatisfactory. For it to be complete, he needed to erase a significant drawing. So Rauschenburg asked De Kooning’s for one of his drawings with the purpose of erasing it. At the time, De Kooning was greatly admired and his drawings had great value. De Kooning agreed and when choosing a drawing, picked one he thought he would care about losing, as well as one which would be difficult to erase as it was heavily drawn in grease pencil, ink, charcoal and graphite. The process took 2 months to complete and even then, some ghostly marks were still visible.

He insisted that the work wasn’t a negation, it was a celebration (Cain, A., 2017). I tend to agree as I can only imagine that you would spend that much time erasing an artist’s work who you admire if it was in a spirit of celebration.

At the time it did not cause much of a sensation, but this and his black and white canvases were “an end to art and a beginning” (Kaprow, A. and Kelley, J., 2003). Showing blank works challenged what was art and opened up the way for anything and everything being art.

Whilst I find it hard to process that a blank image can be art, opening the door to experimentation and the infinite possibilities we now have for creating art has been a great step forward. In this light I can see how such works are pivotal in the history of art.


Cain, A. (2017). No. 60: Why Robert Rauschenberg Erased a de Kooning. [podcast] The Artsy Podcast. Available at: [Accessed 7 Nov. 2018].

Kaprow, A. and Kelley, J. (2003). Essays on the blurring of art and life. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press.

SFMOMA. (n.d.). Robert Rauschenberg, Erased de Kooning Drawing, 1953. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Nov. 2018].

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Initial Ideas

Environmental issues are important to me, they have influenced my choice of job, my lifestyle, my way of thinking. These issues are starting to make an appearance in my art work and I suspect will feature more and more as time goes by.

So, the question I propose to answer with my critical essay is “Can artists have an influence in tackling environmental issues?”, or “Can art and environmental issues be combined in an effective way?”

The artists I propose to look at in this regard are:

Common Ground – Dorset-based arts and environmental charity – currently have an exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, enabling some primary research –

Laney Birkhead – A printmaker who has combined her love of beekeeping and concerns about bee decline with her artwork in producing ‘Swarm’ – – I was involved in the latest exhibition of this work, so can include primary research from this

Andy Goldsworthy

John Sabraw – creates paint from iron oxide extracted from polluted streams –

Giuseppe Penone – currently exhibiting at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, enabling some primary research

This list will grow to start with and then be narrowed down to three for the essay.


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Project 4: An emotional response

Talk about some of these projects not being my cup of tea, this topped the rest! I’m not sure if I feature on the autistic spectrum or whether emotion just doesn’t really feature in my art. I appreciate that the course is getting us to try lots of different approaches, but I didn’t start this project having much hope of getting anything out of it. I decided to try the best I could though.

It took me a long while to even figure out the statements to work from until I started to raid the lyrics of my music collection. Once I had these ready, I prepared them at the top of a sketchbook page and took them to a life drawing session. I read the statements to myself and timed around 10 minutes for each drawing. I only managed to get 9 done in the time available.

I smashed through and took the title. I am a champion

I smashed through and took the title. I am a champion

The scratch of that pencil is getting on my nerves

The scratch of that pencil is getting on my nerves

They took it all from me, I can feel my blood boil

They took it all from me, I can feel my blood boil

I've finally woken from a long sleep, I'm ready to jump, to make that blind leap

I’ve finally woken from a long sleep, I’m ready to jump, to make that blind leap

Heartbeat, thumping in my chest, now I've made a break for it I know they'll never rest

Heartbeat, thumping in my chest, now I’ve made a break for it I know they’ll never rest

There's no sensation to compare with this, suspended animation, a state of bliss

There’s no sensation to compare with this, suspended animation, a state of bliss

I get a rush from the fear of getting caught, of recklessness and water

I get a rush from the fear of getting caught, of recklessness and water

I see the sun ahead, I ain't never looking back, all the dreams are coming true as I think of you

I see the sun ahead, I ain’t never looking back, all the dreams are coming true as I think of you

I play computer games instead of changing my life, all the time convincing myself that I will change – tomorrow

I play computer games instead of changing my life, all the time convincing myself that I will change – tomorrow


Do any of these drawings convey the emotion of the statement I was reading? Some have an inkling of this, but I don’t think any strong emotions are evident. Part of that comes from myself not being an overtly emotional kind of person. However, the main issue I think I had was the drawing environment. It’s hard to keep a passionate statement in mind and allow it to influence you whilst listening to classical music, with a serene model pose in an environment I am used to being relaxed and calm in. This conflict meant that I also probably thought too much about how my marks might be associated with the emotion rather than feeling the emotion and letting that feeling influence my drawings.

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Research point – Rebecca Horn’s drawing machines

I think ‘Pencil Mask, 1972’ was her first drawing machine. It looks like a bondage mask and I imagine is very uncomfortable to use. By having to use her head to make drawings, the ability to properly see what you are drawing has been taken away and so an element of unpredictability introduced. I’ve not seen the resulting images, so can’t comment on what the feel of the drawings were.

A later work which is pretty much impossible to find anything out about online is ‘The Little Painting School Performs a Waterfall, 1988’ (, n.d.). For some reason the details of this are no longer on the main site and have to be accessed through a website archive site) and this is the only reference I can find online regarding this work. This article says that in this work she “mimic[s] the human act of painting” (, 2012) and that she herself says “The machine is a substitute for eternal life, because it lasts forever.”–Rebecca Horn, 1993 (, 2012). I’m not sure I agree with either of these statements, to me it seems clear that this is a machine painting which incorporates elements of randomness and as to her statement about the piece, nothing lasts forever. Despite disagreeing with her on these points, I think this is a strong piece which invites you to contemplate the endless cycle of the painting.

From the limited sources I have found, it appears that Horn focusses on the random marks made by machines. In my own work I would like to introduce this element of randomness, but combine it with controlled drawing also as I enjoy the contrast between the two elements.

References: (2012). The Little Painting School Performs a Waterfall | Rebecca Horn | Walk…. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Nov. 2018].

Tate. (2004). ‘Pencil Mask’, Rebecca Horn, 1972 | Tate. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Nov. 2018]. (n.d.). The Little Painting School Performs a Waterfall. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Nov. 2018].

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Project 3: Drawing ‘machines’

GPX tracksGPX tracksMy favourite drawing machine I came across in my research was ‘ADA’, by Karina Smigla-Bobinski (Smigla-Bobinski, n.d.). It is incredibly simple and I can imagine getting immersed in mark making with it. The random marks it makes look fascinating and I love the confined nature determined by the ball’s size and the walls.

Another one I came across made by a local sculptor was a handheld drawing machine which adds motors to vibrate and rotate a pen at the end of a rod (Bond, n.d.). This mixes randomness from the motor with the control of the user in positioning the pen and possibly predicting the motion of the motor.


Smigla-Bobinski, K. (n.d.). ADA. [online] Available at: [Accessed 31 Oct. 2018].

Bond, J. (n.d.). Jim Bond. [online] Available at: [Accessed 31 Oct. 2018].

Drawing Machine 1

I decided to produce a drawing machine that recorded movement in a car. It took me a little while to perfect this, but this is what I ended up with:

DM v1 setup1 DM v1 setup2 DM v1 setup3

Initially the movement was too unrestricted and the pens ended up off the paper after a short period of time.

DM v1 setup4

Restricting it to stay on the paper was more successful

DM v2 setup

This was left in the car for a number of weeks and eventually resulted in this drawing

DM v2 drawing2

All these marks were produced by the movement of the car, I didn’t add any of my own. I decided to complete this drawing with some simple charcoal shading. This worked quite well, but I think suffers from not being properly circular. This needn’t be an issue, but because it is almost a perfect circle, I think it stands out more by being slightly off. Adding a considered line to define the outside of the pens reach would have improved this and I don’t think would have detracted from the random effect in any way.

Final drawing:


Drawing Machine 2

In working on my parallel project, I have been surveying several grid squares for ash trees. Whilst doing this, I recorded the GPS tracks of my movement around those squares and the journey to and from them.

GPX tracks

My phone was the drawing machine in this case. I decided to create a rust print of image and play around with some of the ideas I have for my parallel project using these prints.

DM2 setup DM2 setup2

I printed two images on rough and smooth paper to then work on.

DM2 rust print1 DM2 rust print2


In my parallel project, I want to combine rust printing with burning and ink or watercolour, so I used these in this drawings also.

I started with the rough paper print:

RP1 Final

The burning worked fine when using a pyrography machine, but was too wide and didn’t go through the paper when a blow torch was used. The ink dots are too precise and stifled here.

On to the smooth paper print:

RP2 with ink

I stuck with the pyrography machine for the burning and this time wetted the paper first so the ink bloomed when dotted on the paper. This more random approach worked better.

I abandoned the rough paper print at this point and focussed on the smooth paper one. I was happy with what was there so far, but it had too big an area of white space and needed something more. I decided that a section of one of the surveyed maps would fit well in this space, so I drew this in with ink, charcoal and wash pencil.

RP2 Final

I was quite pleased with the final image and this is getting closer to what I want to investigate in combining random and precision drawing. It is also helping me to clarify the drawings I want to carry out for my parallel project. As a completed image I think it still lacks something to bring it all together, but until I work out what might do that, I will leave it there for now.

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Research point – The Abstract Expressionists’ use of gesture

The course notes ask for my response to the following comments:

The Abstract Expressionists’ use of gesture was caught up with notions of authenticity and even of purity of intent. The influential critic Clement Greenberg wrote in his article ‘Avant Garde and Kitsch’ in 1939 about the good artist painting ‘cause’ and the bad artist painting ‘effect’. He also talks about what he describes as ‘the inflections of the personal’ becoming a legitimate subject. For example, the artist Jackson Pollock talked about wanting to paint from his emotions, not to illustrate them.

I think a good artist could paint ’cause’ and also ‘effect’. Whichever chimes with the artist is going to be the one which produces good art. Similarly with painting from the emotions or illustrating them. I can see the distinction and for people for whom that is important, I can understand their passion for choosing one over the other, but either is valid in my book. Having a strict criteria for how things should be done sparks movements in art, but they inevitably get superseded by new thinking. Personally I struggle to draw from my emotions or illustrate them, so the distinction is a moot point for me.

Looking at the work of Jackson Pollock is interesting and seeing how over time he gradually gave up control over subject to embrace painting solely from his emotions. He embraced the happy accidents which come from working with paint splashes and, although he obviously had control over the broad sweep of the marks, he gave up control of the detail. Personally, I enjoy work which has an element of this lack of control, although I do like to see it mixed with more controlled work.


Namuth, H. (1951). Jackson Pollock by Hans Namuth. [online] YouTube. Available at: [Accessed 4 Nov. 2018].

YouTube. (2017). The Case for Jackson Pollock. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Nov. 2018].

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Parallel Project Plan

Having given the subject a lot of thought over the last few months, I have now decided what I want to look at and some ideas of the work I want to produce.

Working title:

Ash: A Celebration and a Lament

This is a difficult subject as unlike many environmental issues, there doesn’t appear to be much we can do about this one. Ash dieback has spread throughout the country and the impact on the landscape around me in the Yorkshire Dales is huge. Ash trees make up a very high percentage of the trees in the Dales which is already a sparsely tree covered landscape and pretty much every Ash tree I see in my local environment is showing the symptoms of Ash dieback. The latest thinking seems to be to wait and see if any genetic strain of Ash is resistant to the fungus. It looks like 5-10% of ash trees may be resistant to the disease (BBC, 2018), but even if that is the case, the impact on my local area will be enormous and a lot of tree planting will need to be done to replace the habitats which will soon be lost.

What can I do? Well, I doubt many other people realise the extent of this issue, so I can raise awareness of it. Hopefully there will be some plan to address the issue at some point, in which case I can also raise awareness of that as well. What I can also do is celebrate the trees we still have at this moment in time. Having investigated the issue and noticed the impact it is having, it is also an issue I cannot now ignore and so I have to make work about it now.

My current thoughts are detailed below.


  • Charcoal (made from ash twigs) drawings of dead leaf stems with ash dieback fungus (in ink?)
  • Maps (in ink / rust prints?) with trees drawn on, then the ash trees burnt out (using soldering iron / gunpowder / sun and magnifying glass?)
  • Sketches of planned sculptures as rust prints


  • Ash dieback fungus
  • Cast ash twigs, leaving the charcoal of the twigs in the moulds to give holes in the casts
  • Model landscapes cast to partially fail (could make them fail in required areas in similar way to map drawings described above?)


  • Collect
    • Ash dieback fungus – photograph and try to preserve some (resin?) + try to see spores
    • Ash twigs – to cast + turn into charcoal
  • Survey
    • 5(?) 1km grid squares – survey trees in the square and which ones of them are ash
  • Experiments
    • Dense black charcoal twigs
    • What medium goes with the above for drawing the fungi
    • Adding ink / watercolour to rust prints
  • Research ash dieback

My ideas so far are more focused on the ‘lament’. I need to think more about how I get the ‘celebration’ part into there.


BBC. (2018). BBC Radio 4 – Gardeners’ Question Time, The New Forest. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Nov. 2018].

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Stage 2 Tutor Report

Notes on my tutor’s report for part 2:

Overall Comments

My tutor wants me to explore more widely other artists who work within a similar remit and develop a much deeper understanding through practical and critical research. She also wants me to now spend more time on my parallel project and critical review and give my practical work time and space to develop.

Project 1 Space, depth and volume

Picked up on a lack of idea development in my submission. Need to try a wider range of options and explore as many possibilities as I can rather than restrict to a single outcome.

Project 2 Mark Making materials

My tutor pointed out that I have not explained my thinking behind the mark making I have been doing. I think I need to document my thinking much more as I am aware that I spend a lot of time working stuff out in my head, but then struggle to document that thought process in my blog. I will try to work on that more.

It is interesting to see that in my tutor’s later comments, she has suggested I do exactly what I have been planning to develop for my parallel project, which is using drawing on steel / rust to draw my own studies of organisms through a microscope.

She also suggests using cartography as a means to explore drawing, with some suggestions on artists to look at for extending ideas:

Lee Maelzer

Maelzer paints or manipulates photographs of abandoned places or objects, they have a sense of time forgotten and a feeling of loss about them.

Her interest in abandoned sites and discarded items fits with the images that appeal to me. The texture of decay was an appealing subject to me when I was a photographer and has come back in my sculpture work in using rusted steel and now into my drawings using rust prints. This is definitely an area I want to explore more, so I will try to think how to continue this going forwards. I have a stash of images of abandoned places, so maybe I will try to use these in a project in future.

Maelzer, L. (2018). Leemaelzer. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Jul. 2018].

Torkwase Dyson

I struggled to get a sense of Dyson’s work through the images on her website and other sites. Her work is about the way spaces are negotiated by black and brown bodies, with historical work on the history of slavery and racism. Her work is highly abstracted though and mostly evades my attempts to interpret it

Dyson, T. (2018). [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Jul. 2018].

Meier, A. (2016). Creating a Spatial History of Slavery through Abstraction. [online] Hyperallergic. Available at: [Accessed 23 Jul. 2018].

Project 3 Narrative

My tutor thinks my drawing of my father is very earnest and representational and I need to be more experimental. I decided to re-visit this exercise again and see what I could do to rectify this:

Hanky 1 Hanky 2 Hanky 3

I made the mistake of trying to use charcoal dipped in oil to darken areas of this drawing, but on the map background this didn’t work, maybe because of the acrylic gel used to affix it to the background paper. The resulting image may be lacking in technical proficiency in areas, but it has resulted in a more interesting image and more open to investigation and interpretation.

My tutor suggests I look at the work of Cai Guo-Qiang, which further reinforces the lack of explanation I am putting into my blog as it was his exhibition in the Whitworth back in 2015 that inspired me to try out gunpowder drawing.

I definitely need to document my thinking more, which is an important note to take forwards into the rest of the course.

Parallel Project and critical review

Need to think why work having a distinct narrative through a landscape is important to me. Think wider outside of the brief. Think about how going to start making work for the theme. Make work around my research.

Pin down what going to make for the project and more importantly, why?

My initial approach is going to be to start making sketches around landscape locations and also to try to translate some of them into sculpture.

Experiments to try:

  • Drawing in wire, with tissue paper wrap over the top
  • Drawing in oil based clay
  • Could do thin plaster casts of these in Jesmonite?

Contextual focus point: Cornelia Parker

My tutor pointed out that my comments on her work were ill informed and she is right. I shall try to rephrase what I was trying to say:

Parker’s work is mostly all about the conceptual message. The hand of the artist (i.e. craftsmanship) is often absent. I think many of her works are interesting in their conceptual approach, but that only some of them hit the mark with me. There are sometimes hidden meanings in the conceptual work, i.e. in her ‘Pornographic Drawing 1996’ where she uses Rorschach drawings which are used in psychoanalysis to reveal subconscious desires, providing additional layers to appreciate. With the ones which don’t resonate with me though, there is often no fall-back position of admiring the craftsmanship of the work.

Her work is highly sought after and the exhibition of her work at the Whitworth gallery I went to in 2015 was interesting. What I was trying to say is that in my work, I want there to be more evidence of the artist’s hand in the work and that craftsmanship is important to me.

I have gone back and re-written this section to make a more informed assessment of her work.

Assignment 2

My tutor points out that I am still trying to make a representational drawing and also that I haven’t followed my ideas through to exhaustion.

One of the key questions she asks is “think why you think that the final image needs to read like a painting? Is this important to you?”

I like abstract images, so I by no means feel that it needs to read like a representational painting. I do feel though that a drawing / piece of art, should have an aesthetic beauty to it. I feel that it needs the ‘hook’ of being an attractive image, to draw people into viewing is closer, to then impart more of it’s meaning to the viewer. A visually ugly image can turn off viewer attention instantly, or quickly impose a negative impression of a piece which it is hard to get past. So “yes” and “no” really!

I will keep exploring this site and how to draw this area.


My tutor encourages me to be more open to creative exploration and investigate other artists to gain confidence in my own approach and development of my personal voice.

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays

Be less critical about what my work looks like and think more about that I enjoy in making marks.

Suggested reading/viewing

Look at artists like Agnes Denes, Herman de Vries and CCANW – See Parallel Project post


I definitely need to document my thinking more, which is an important note to take forwards into the rest of the course.

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Research following A2 tutor feedback

Agnes Denes

I looked initially as her works like ‘Rice/Tree/Burial, 1968’, a piece which is thought to be the first ecologically conscious earthwork (Kino, 2012). This was a performance piece which involved planting a rice field, chaining trees and burying poetry in a time capsule. I have great admiration for works like this and whilst it chimes with my environmental concerns, it doesn’t chime with the type of work I want to produce myself.

On further investigation of her work, it became apparent that she has produced work in pretty much every field of art. The pieces of her work which appealed to me the most, are some of her drawings, a few of which I have made notes on below.

‘Stelae – Message from Another Time – Discoveries of Minds and People, 1986’

Carved marble inscribed with mathematical and scientific formulae. Looking at the scientific achievements we might carve onto a slab of stone to show the pinnacle of our thinking of the time, which could be unearthed in the future by archaeologists.

‘Isometric Systems in Isotropic Space – Map Projections: The Doughnut, 1974’

An ink and charcoal drawing of the globe in a doughnut projection.

‘The Human Hang-up Machine, 1969’

An ink drawing on graph paper which is like an engineering diagram for a machine, but with labels like “Degrees of Freedom”, or “Ethical Egoism Oscillator”. I am very taken by this work, engineering diagrams hold appeal to me for their precision and depiction of machinery and the explanation of how they work. This adds humour and a complexity which means you can spend a long time discovering new features of the work.

Her work appeals to me in the way she often combines science and art. Her drawings are precise which appeals to my way of working, although a little too precise and clinical sometimes for my taste. I want to find a balance of precise and random in my work if I can.


Kino, C. (2012). Agnes Denes Stretches the Canvas as Far as Can Go. [online] Available at: [Accessed 17 Aug. 2018]. (n.d.). Agnes Denes. Human Hang-Up Machine. 1969 | MoMA. [online] Available at: [Accessed 17 Aug. 2018]. (n.d.). Agnes Denes. [online] Available at: [Accessed 17 Aug. 2018].

herman de vries

herman de vries (he uses lower case for his name to embrace equality) works with nature, using natural materials to produce installations, or rubbing earth on paper. ‘from earth: everywhere, 2015’ is a collection of 84 rubbings from different earth samples – de vries has over 8,000 different earth samples, so this is just a selection of these. The displaying of samples appeals to me and I have produced some work in a similar vein cataloguing textures.

His work is often uses natural objects as they are, with little intervention other than their placement. It is interesting, but mostly not where I want to take my work, although the cataloguing display is an area I have explored and may well take forward.


Ganstrom, L. (2015). herman de vries interview in the dutch pavilion at the venice art biennale. [online] designboom | architecture & design magazine. Available at: [Accessed 19 Aug. 2018].

herman de vries. (2018). herman de vries. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Aug. 2018].


The Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World (CCANW) is a charity all about nature and the Arts, so it should be a good place to explore the ideas I want to look at.

‘Soil Culture’ project shows the amazing things you can discover when focussing on a particular issue, soil in this case. Exploring the science behind this is fascinating and provides an unlimited source of inspiration. Making art from this inspiration can then start a conversation about the environmental issues behind the subject. This brings issues to light which would not have been known about before.

Interesting quote from one of the videos (CCANW, 2014):

Dr Stephan Harding, Resident Ecologist & Head of MSc in Holistic Science

‘Information doesn’t work, I can show you tonnes of graphs of sea level rise, it won’t do anything to you, it will just switch you off, make you go back and watch your television even more. It doesn’t work. Fear doesn’t work either. The only thing that works is love. What we’ve got to do, is fall in love with the earth.’


CCANW (2014). Soil Culture. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 Sep. 2018]. (n.d.). Centre for Contemporary Art & the Natural World. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 Sep. 2018].

Common Ground

There was an exhibition of the work of Common Ground at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. This is a group of artists who look for ways to engage people with their local environment, running workshops and engaging with other artists, organisations, public. The exhibition showed work from many of their projects and like many artists working in this area, they focussed on using natural materials to create their work. Whilst I admire this work, I was focussing on what I could get out of it to use in my own work and there were two pieces which stood out for me.

‘the Light Walk, 2016’ by Harriet and Rob Fraser

the light walk

This was a series of wooden boards made from seven different woods (hawthorn, rowan, alder, scots pine, sycamore, birch, oak) with a laser cut GPS-tracking showing the seven day walk they took to travel between seven Long View trees.

The piece is visually attractive, appeals to my background working with maps, the poetry speaks to me about the environment they encountered and there is a great story about the journey they took behind the piece.

‘[G.H] Galgorm/Holly, 2018’ by Christine Mackey (and 4 other drawings in the series)

Christine Mackey

These are drawings of charcoal twigs which I presume were made with the charcoal twigs themselves. An idea I plan to use in my parrallel project work.


Common Ground. (n.d.). Common Ground. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 Sep. 2018].

Fraser, H. and Fraser, R. (2016). Back from the Light Walk. [online] THE LONG VIEW. Available at: [Accessed 3 Sep. 2018].


The result of this research and much thinking around this subject was the identification of the key issue for me. I want to highlight environmental issues, whilst working in my chosen mediums of bronze and steel sculpture, or rust printing and gunpowder. I am not looking to change the mediums I work with to suit the subject, but a way to approach the subject using the materials I respond to. In some ways it seemed that by using more industrial materials, I may be contradicting myself and I battled with this issue for a long time. However, I believe it is more about getting the message across and I don’t believe the materials should matter in doing this.

A simple paragraph to write, but the crux of the issue which I have been battling with for many months now!

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Idea 6 – Some more ideas

Exploring a 1km grid square and producing work based on that – was agreed by the collaboration participants.

The 1km grid square was chosen by selecting a spot close to the central location between the three of us and we arranged a site visit to explore this area. It turned out to be an ideal site as it contains a wide range of habitats:

  • River

  • Deciduous woodland

  • Conifer woodland

  • Moorland

  • Pasture

  • Meadow

It also includes Barden Tower, a 15th century fortified house which was remodelled in the 16th and 17th centuries which is a very impressive ruin.


The first thing we came across when looking at the river was a large selection of signal crayfish remains. This is an invasive species which carries the crayfish plaque which wipes out the native white clawed crayfish. They are also much larger than the native crayfish and can out compete and even predate on them.

Sketchbook 3 Sketchbook 4

We also found Himalayan Balsam which is an invasive non-native plant. So invasive species could be a possible avenue to follow.

I spent a morning with conservation staff from the Yorkshire Dales National Park doing river fly monitoring in the river about 6 miles upstream of this site. We caught and examined the larvae of mayflies, caddisflies and stoneflies. During this monitoring, we also found a non-native invasive snail (from New Zealand) and an American flower (which I forget the name of).

Deciduous woodland

Ash dieback is very prevalent in this location, with all the small trees affected and many of the large ones showing signs of it. This is spread by very small white fungus which appear on fallen ash leaf stalks between July and October. The spores from these are dispersed by the wind and can travel long distances. I hope to be able to find some of these during this period to be able to study further.

We also found Alder Gall Mite and Bird Cherry Ermine Moths. The former causes wart like nodules on Alder leaves, the latter covers cherry trees in silk. Both look like bad news for the trees, but apparently don’t harm them much.

Sketchbook 5 Sketchbook 6 Sketchbook 7


Brown, P. (2018). Specieswatch: Bird-cherry ermine moth. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 5 Jul. 2018]. (2018). Ash dieback. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 Jul. 2018].

Historic England. (2018). Barden Tower medieval fortified house and medieval garden earthworks. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 Jul. 2018].

Plantlife. (2018). Himalayan balsam. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 Jul. 2018].

Orchard, P. (2018). Alder Gall Mite featured on the The Nature of Dorset. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 Jul. 2018]. (2018). Nature in the Dales – White-clawed crayfish. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 Jul. 2018].

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Project 2: Experiments with mark-making

‘Set up a reasonably large still life, for example two or three chairs piled together’ – that is one of those requests that I struggled with in Drawing 1 as being thoroughly uninspiring as a drawing project! So, I decided to draw a cross section of a Primula from a photograph in a book – it also took up less space in the house! I followed the rest of the suggestions by attaching a 2B graphite stick to the end of a pole to do the initial drawing on a 140x70cm piece of lining paper on the floor.

P2 01

I found that I actually had quite a lot of control over this despite it’s length as I could press it against my arm as I drew with it. However, when I swapped the graphite stick for a 9B one to try to add some shading, I lost that control and regressed to a child’s drawing.

P2 02

Adding colour to the drawing using handfuls of coloured pencils didn’t improve it much either

P2 03P2 04

Scale can be important and I can see how this method of drawing could be used for large scale works. The reflection asks:

What happens when you break the relationship between your brain and the marks you make in this way? Are these simply bad drawings – or do they point the way to a kind of responsiveness within the act of mark-making which enables a more sensitive and ultimately more informative line? This is a loaded question, but respond with your own views and reflections based on what you’ve learned so far.

Despite the loaded question, I’m afraid I feel that they are simply bad drawings. I think some people work in a more fluid and spontaneous way and this method of drawing could work well for them and influence their work. However, others (in which I include myself), prefer a more detailed or precise way of working and I cannot see how this could help in the work I produce.

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