The objective of this project is to widen our perception of what a drawing or a line might be. I also interpret this as being observant and responsive to details of our environment, find drawing inspiration unexpected places and harness this.
I have always enjoyed the details of erosion and decay in both the natural world and the manufactured. For this project, I found myself taking hundreds of photographs in different locations. During a study visit to the Tate Modern, I enjoyed the way the history of the structure has been celebrated in the new extention. The original concrete walls of the power station have been largely left un-gentrified, but showing marks of previous use or decay and sometimes with, what I take to be, surveyor’s annotations. The floors show the passing or visitors, spills, scuffs, and the zig-zagging repair made to the turbine hall floor after Salcedo’s ‘Shibboleth I’ installation.
Even on the way to the Tate, I was seeing drawings at the tube station.
The course notes talk about ‘understanding what line can be’ but, analysing these photographs, I have been drawn to the juxtaposition of line with colour or texture. In my sketchbook, I have tried to explore what attracted me to take each photo and what essence I might extract from it as an inspiration for further work. I was not trying to redraw or represent the found drawings, so much as work out how I might use them as a starting point for another drawing.
I found myself repeatedly drawn to examine the crack in the turbine hall floor and how it appeared dark on light and then light on dark, with defined but unpredictable changes of angle. It also has a relationship with my parallel project on presence/absence. The crack existed as a three dimensional installation in the past and now only exists as a memory in the floor. It is gone but still present. Salcedo’s original work was interpreted as ‘a symbol of the damage caused by cultural and geographical exclusion’ (Tate, 2017) and this connection with alienation and intolerance feels more relevant than ever, at present.
Having done a couple of small sketches of the lines in my sketchbook, I decided to develop this into a large drawing using graphite in several forms. I have not tried to produce a representational drawing of the Tate floor. I have tried to use the shapes to find my own interpretation. I wanted a very simple design of fracture, executed in a rich way.
The drawing has been developed with soft graphite, graphire powder, pencil and liquid graphite, by addition and subtraction. The result is a wide range of soft tones and variety of marks. The design is extremely simple but is created by building up layers and every action of the media or eraser has left its history. The different graphite forms each lie on the support with their own character, the liquid giving dense, broad marks which sink into the support, and the graphite powder, lying on the surface with a silvery sheen. Photography has struggled to capture the subtlety of the graphite powder in particular.
The drawing has not represented the perspective of the crack and therefore not captured a sense of three dimensional space but it was not my objective to draw the crack in the turbine hall, rather to use that idea to create a drawing of a fracture between planes. The horizontal line, originally a change of floor surface, has been retained, as have a couple of other floor features, purely to add to the visual dynamic, but it has become more assertive than I intended.
I thoroughly enjoyed making this piece. Pushing graphite around, adding different weight pencil lines and, in particular, carving into it with an eraser cut into a narrow wedge, offers me a wide vocabulary of expressive and spontaneous mark and is the drawing medium which now feels mine.
Tate. (2017). Shibboleth I, Doris Salcedo 2007 | Tate. [online] Available at:
http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/salcedo-shibboleth-i-p20334 [Accessed 12 Apr. 2017].