of their works burst almost everywhere a basic tone: The world should not
be like this!"
Klinger 'Painting and Design' 1891
It seems preposterous, almost absurd, to be discussing art theory and
practice at the end of a week in which we have witnessed so many bloody
and inhumane events, ending with the terrible tragedy at the Middle school
in Beslan. And yet maybe it is at just such times that the role of art can
be most sharply and clearly defined.
Leon Trotsky has argued that all great art, is "life-affirming", or as
Mike Gonzalez has stated "when all that is human is threatened with
destruction art's power is, in some sense at least, at its greatest".
William Kentridge has also importantly stated of Theodore Adorno,
rescuing him from those who like to quote too selectively, that he argued "it was now in art alone that suffering could still find its
voice, without immediately being betrayed by it".
The common thread of my work is that of humanity, the plight of the
ordinary person. I wish to turn my gaze upon the frequently overlooked and
all too often glibly dismissed harsh reality of modern living.
Influenced by nineteenth and twentieth century schools of realism my
work draws on practical sources as diverse as Kollwitz, Grosz and
Kentridge and theoretically draws on the idea's of Benjanmin &
Following Klingers arguments relating to drawing I strive to be a 'creator of visual narratives'. Drawing
as Klinger defines it, has more in common with poetry in its potential for
the expression of ideas, it is less complete and concrete in detail,
perhaps, than painting, drawing is therefore more suggestive in its scope.
Drawing for me has as its most salient characteristic the
subjectivity of the artist and can therefore confront the unbeautiful and
Like Klinger and Kollwitz I understand the concept of "drawing" to
include printing, not least because by its nature the print is
reproducible, which not only permits it to find a wide audience but also
retains the true feeling and mark of the artist.
storyteller joins the ranks of the teachers and sages. He has counsel - not for a few situations, as the proverb does, but for many, like the
Benjanmin 'The Storeyteller' 1933
Human society is built on a complex relationship of separate and at the
same time inter-connected ideas and actions that human beings give
credence to and act upon.
I intend, by the practice of drawing as a meditative means, to explore
this relationship, with a particular reference to people in a working
environment and mindful of the contemporary work ethic. I wish to re-examine how drawing can translate a simple gesture, a
facial expression, a tender or tired touch with an absolute clarity of
vision, the 'human condition'.
In here recent book Willing Slaves
Madeleine Bunting has noted that there is a great tradition of what she
calls 'anti-work writing', which stretches back to the beginning of
the industrial revolution.
She argues that the thinkers and pioneers of the Enlightenment and their
followers truly believed that commerce, machinery and wages would bring
freedom to the British peasantry. Others like William Blake, Samuel-Taylor
Coleridge, Lord Byron, and William Cobbert, watching these developments
witnessed something very different; they saw capitalism and its machines
as a slave driver; they were the 'witnesses to the beast' who had
created a demonic and debased world of 'dark satanic mills'.
Crucially Bunting argues that this debate is still taking place, that
humanity is allowing an 'overwork culture' to rule our lives. It is
through this contradiction that I wish to develop my proposal, to develop
my ability to become a 'storey-teller'.
Drawing for me is a place/process where images and ideas stored or
seeding in my consciousness first begin to reveal themselves.
To draw feels very natural and I believe is universally understood.
A drawing is both the marks made and the space or emptiness that fill it
on the surface on which the drawing is made. My work is pre-dominantly
I like to lose myself in making a drawing, in thinking about the subject
and feeling the form and mood. I want to sketch and photograph people in
various working environments and employing these visual notes in the
studio build up images.
I wish to understand the history and traditions of drawing in more depth
and to further explore drawing as a medium in an environment that promotes