Shut up and Draw; Visual Linguistics

After a lot of thinking, reflecting and blogging, it’s been great to get back to some drawing and making. Over the past week, my classmates and I have been developing our research methodologies through drawing.

This began with an observational drawing trip to Wolverhampton Art Gallery to see the exhibition The Other Mountain, Contemporary Chinese Jewellery, curated by Professor Norman Cherry We were encouraged not only to draw whilst at the exhibition but to stop and doodle en route to the gallery and to try out new approaches to our observational mark making. For me, my favourite part was the train ride, I love people watching and I found myself annotating my page with snippets of conversation. ‘It’s best if you travel with no dietary conditions’, ‘I want my son to have a safe life’, ‘Where is the Barrister?’…


I often flick through my sketch book, in fact, numerous times a day. It’s interesting to see what themes populate my pages – It provides a gentle reminder, reinforcing reoccurring ideas. I seem to be continuously mind mapping ideas. I am not precious about my drawings or my sketchbooks, most of my drawings are messy, with a sense of urgency. I want the ideas to fall onto the page before they disappear out of my head. I richly annotate and I’m eager to revisit pages and add new notes.

After the trip to Wolverhampton Art Gallery, I spent some time pulling images from my sketch book, reframing, rescaling, multiplying, layering and copying. Many were ideas I had long since moved on from. As I gather momentum and looking at my older drawings with fresh eyes, I have a much greater understanding of what I was previously trying to convey. But more importantly, how I can now interpret and develop these going forward in my work.

Our week ended with a workshop on drawing performance. In pairs we were challenged, to design, create and perform a wearable drawing tool.  I paired up with Chloe Henderson, unlike many of the other groups we concentrated on the relationship between the two performers – One making regular neat marks, the other displacing these lines.

Our tools were simple, a cardboard tube to precisely place circles of glitter and two washing lines which we fashioned as sea creature-esque hand extensions. The performance resulted in something quite ritualistic, if we had more time it would have been interesting to swap places with Chloe and work from each other perspectives, or even try the same process with ink or paint.

I am energised to weave some of these methodologies into my own practice, I am reminded to experiment from new angles, be brave and play with ideas. Although I doubt very much that I will incorporate performance in my own work, it shouldn’t be ignored as a valid part of my development process, and has given me confidence to embrace what works for me. My sketchbooks are individual like a fingerprint, filled with loose sheets, extracts and notes, they may be messy but they are honest.

When in doubt, draw it out…

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