20:20THE BIG DRAW EXHIBITION : architecture, mapping & movement

For those who haven’t read this blog before or who may not be acquainted with “The Big Draw”, it’s a Nationwide initiative that occurs every year, in October and its purpose is to publcise, promote and celebrate the practise of drawing. This year over 1300 different events have been registered on the website of the Campaign For Drawing.  I spend a large part of every day drawing and I can thoroghly recomend it  ! Drawing is a core activity of all artists and designers and it’s witnessing a huge revival of interest.

Over the years I have taught thousands of students how to analyse and record from life but there’s much more to drawing than purely recording from observation. I am currently teaching a whole new generation of animators and games designers how to draw from observation and how to develop their ideas. Over the last 15-20 years the creative industry in the UK has seen a massive boom, with specialist studios opening up all over west London.

Drawing can encompass many different ways of working, including imaginative,  expressive, intuitive and observational. There are a vast array of media to use to create drawings and I encourage my students to explore different media and ways of working so that they can develop a preference and style of there own. In addition, I encourage students’ to look at as many different artists as possible to help inspire their own work.

Since the beginning of September, I have been Artist in Residence at Portsmouth Grammar School and I have been working closely with a group of year 10 students to develop a body of work for the BIG DRAW. We began by looking at the architecture of Old Portsmouth and then extended our research by including mapping and movement. My photo journal begins with some of the students working in St Thomas’s Cathedral in Old Portsmouth.

We worked in the Cathedral for three consecutive days (8th-10th October 2012), producing monoprints, drawings and mixed media pieces of work. Above is Simon (the pencil) Whitcombe and myself (chriswoodartist). To avoid getting lost in the huge Cathedral – I wore my favourite orange shirt !

Working on 20cm square pieces of “Renalon” plastic, the students produced a series of drypoint engravings which were tinted with acrylic paint and assembled to form image posts that were positioned around the cathedral. The engraved images were all inspired by the Cathedral itself and many students drew the architecture, then superimposed pieces of text from the many gravestones and memorial plaques that document the colourful history of Portsmouth and its citizens.

Above can also be seen some of the many chaotic lines of coloured gaffer tape that we stuck to the floor. These were an extension of the gridlike structure that was a feature of the digital banner on the floor. I have been a fan of Piet Mondrian for a long long time and he has influenced many of my pieces of fine art and graphic design. Another inspiration is the French conceptual artist, Daniel Buren, who created artworks that complicate the relationship between art and the structures that frame it. (as witnessed at the Southampton City Art Gallery).

Hanging on the pillar to the left is one of my infamous digital banners that I have mentioned in an earlier blog.

On the floor is a 5 metre digital banner that includes student drawings that I manipulated in Photoshop. Hanging, to the right, is one of the two hand made banners that we made during the 3 day workshops. On the extreme right is yours truly (chriswoodartist) – some people wear their heart on their sleeve – I wear my art on my back ! During the preview of the exhibition I projected a looped iMovie that I made of the students drawings and it is one such drawing that is emblazened on my back ! There were two laptops and two projectors that projected the movies onto the pillars of the building and beyond to the handmade banners (and me).

I love to exhibit on the floor – you don’t have to worry about framing, hanging, leveling etc etc – what’s more people can see it with ease !

Above : a drawing projected onto one of the pillars of the cathedral.

Above : one of the two 7.5 metre hand-made mixed media banners suspended from the minstrels gallery.

In addition to the visual attractions, we made a soundscape to accompany the projections. The student’s digitally recorded sound bites, in and around Old Portsmouth and these were re-mastered and knitted together by the talented visual arts technician, Nick Llewellyn. Above : the wonderful audience inspecting the spectacle ! If I ever get time, I’ll get the soundscape added to the iMovie and I’ll put it on YouTube. The soundscape included, the sound of breaking waves on the beach (50 metres down the road), footsteps on the shingle, the mellifluous sounding organ, cars passing over the cobbled street, the roller guilotine sliding back and forth etc etc. The borrowed PGS PA system was very good and filled the space with evocative and thought provoking noise.

I would like to add a vote of thanks to the wonderful staff of Portsmouth Grammar School, without whom the show would not have been possible, in particular Head of Art, Ali Dyer, Art Teachers, Simon Willcocks, Lucy Crockford, Art Technicians, Simon Whitcombe and Nick Llewellyn – all of whom worked like trojans to help me to orchestrate this ambitious project.

About chriswoodartist

painter, print-maker and illustrator

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