A Sunday walk in Ruislip Woods offered further opportunities for seeing found drawings in a totally different environment to Tate Modern. The woods are the largest area of ancient woodland in Greater London, originally owned and managed by the Abbey of Bec from Norman times and then Kings College, Cambridge after the reformation until the development of ‘metroland’. That the woods have survived so extensively is a miracle.
There is an abandoned pumping station and tank in the woods which I know attracts graffiti, a possibility for found drawings in addition to, and in combination with, the expected natural forms.
As before, I explored what had attracted me to each photograph and ideas about where I might take it as inspiration for further drawing. I was particularly drawn to the combinations of rusty drips and graffiti with soft edges and the suggestion of meaning undisclosed. These photographs evidence decay, reclaim by nature and layers of human intervention.
With the ‘natural’ drawings, I considered how I might render them more abstract by, for instance, rotating them or using a photo-editing programme to manipulate colour, focus or relative tone.
Tree trunks give good inspiration for changes in weight and density of line and also the relationship between lines. The edges of leaves or grass stalks offer completely different quality of line or edge. Looking up or down creates interesting negative spaces.
Another interesting source of found drawings is the play of light across a surface, after diffusion or reflection through textured glass, blinds or leaves.
These found drawings offer many avenues for future development. I particularly like the fragmented graffiti. Aaron Siskin featured this in many photographs and I share the attraction. I have tried, using various brushes, to create the simple looping shapes of spray can graffiti. The combination of simple, continuous, spontaneous shapes which are balanced in the support and which could mean something but its not obvious what, is very difficult to achieve. The graffiti also evokes Franz Kline’s paintings which also look deceptively simple but which he ‘found’ by selecting small details of meticulous drawings of subjects like chairs.
Exploring graffiti marks further:
The hand print is a powerful symbol of human presence and intervention. In this last graffiti sketch I have referenced the found drawing below, found inside the tumble down pumping station in the woods, in which someone has dipped their hand in clay and stamped and smeared it on the wall. It could be a prehistoric record of presence, like those found so movingly in caves.