I'm well into two long term projects at the moment :
Drawing at dance speed : more action with the burnt stick.
I'm half way though a really exciting drawing project at the Opera House in Covent garden. This opportunity was kindly set up by the choreographer Freddie Opoku-Addaie, following a discussion we had about different kinds of craft. We talked about how craft skill can only be developed through passionate commitment, and how the crafts are all different but somehow the same because of that.
I absolutely jumped at this opportunity to draw at dance speed.
I have wanted to move my figurative work on from the static vibe of the 'life' room for some time. Life models know they will be asked to hold a pose for ages so all the poses end up looking a bit like Greek statues. This is possibly why some opinionistas are snotty about 'figurative' work, and why even more people seem to think 'photography does it better'.
I was so lucky to share the ROH rehearsal space with the four dancers : Eliisa Erävalo, Maria Olga Palliani, Hugh Stanier and Ruth Voon. It was a complete revelation to me, and such a priviledge to watch them build a rich and emotional story using nothing more than the articulation of their own bodies. It also helped me question all my assumptions about figure drawing. Dancing is at the same time like and unlike drawing. I worked in charcoal on a roll of brown kraft paper, and in the first session made just under 40 feet of drawings. But I still didn't cover anything like as much ground as the dancers did. Their work is physical and committed in a way that the best drawing is, but they do it with their whole bodies in defiance of gravity rather than just a burnt stick, in defiance of a blank piece of paper.
This work would not have been possible without the support of the Royal Opera House associate choreographer Freddie Opoku-Addaie and the dancers. Their piece, called "Absent Made Present" was commissioned by ROH2 and will be at the Linbury from 29 to 31 March 2012.
Supported by: The Place; The Point, Eastleigh; Southbank Centre; Jardin d'Europe; Dance in Devon; The Arts at Dartington; Stratford Circus.
The next project will be at least seven months in the making :
The Curious Cabinet of Lemmings (a working title, as they say).
Combining painting, object installation and film, this is a follow on show to "Such Stuff" at the end of last year. I've always loved music and theatre because their magic lives in a moment rather than an object or a place. Visual arts has an unhealthy obsession with retailing objects rather than connecting with audiences. I'd rather give a piece of work away to twenty people than sell it to one person because they believe it could have intrinsic (resale) value. So this show is planned as an event, where the audience brings the completion of the work.
I've been really enjoying the smell of oils in the studio again, I've been using the meditative pace of painting as a way to develop the narrative of the show.
I'm negotiating for a really interesting space in town to show it in, more an that to follow. So far I've nearly finished the first set of scenic paintings, which will establish the 'characters' in the story. These will be giving their stories to the installation and film. Now I'm about to spend the day making a big zoetrope with the real Grand Theatre of Lemmings. We'll probably tweet a few pics if it goes well.