Found in Translation

Before the current lockdown, I was working on pieces for an HB Drawing group show Found In Translation, to be held in April at No Format Gallery in Deptford, London SE14. We are hoping to find a new date for the show, when we know what the new ‘normal’ will look like. In the meantime, this is what the proposal for the show said:

What are we doing when we ‘draw from drawings’? The artists of HB Drawing have been using regular sessions in the British Museum Prints and Drawings Department Study Room to explore this.

Historically, copying was seen as the foundation of learning to draw and to become an artist. … This approach was rejected by modernists who privileged expression and originality over skill. … Contemporary art education curricula hover between these positions …

The Bridget Riley Art Foundation (BRAF) has funded the programme at the British Museum which made possible our initial experience of drawing from the Museum’s collection. This programme reflects Riley’s own belief that we can look at older artists’ work

‘not just as historical events in the past but as a basis for the present, one can discover points of departure …’

Sarah Jaffray, project officer and lead educator for the BRAF programme at the Museum, suggests that the language of translation, rather than transcription, better describes the potential for transformation involved when drawing from another artist’s drawings. Translation from one language to another aims not just at equivalence but ‘the production of a response comparable to the one produced by the foreign text in its own culture.’ …

HB Drawing proposes an exhibition that starts from the historic legacy of drawing to create work that responds to the current context, bringing the past into the present. …

There are many ways of doing this. I am exploring my response to the British Museum project in felt and in drawing, which you can see on a separate page. Click on an image to expand the gallery.

This first felt piece looks at using a ‘soft pixelation’ technique, derived from my lasting interest in pixelation generally, and the way pixelation breaks down an image, removing information and re-presenting it in small units. An aquatint and etching by Chuck Close, Phil Spitbite, 1995, a portrait of his friend, the composer Philip Glass, held by the British Museum suggested moving away from square units; and an experiment with a technique for manipulating wool fibre showed that it could be a way of creating a range of tones, using fibre like graphite powder.