What I really love about drawing is its spontaneity.
For me, it’s the idea that you can make drawings anywhere, at any time with very limited means.
Just, I am quite happy with a piece of paper and a pencil and bottle of ink.
Drawing is like the fundamental thing that produces ideas, if you like. It’s the observation
of the world around you, but also inwardly looking as well as externally looking and
producing work, that is really the core of artistic
Why do I do what I am doing? I draw because I need the proof of my existence. And that’s
what I believe I am doing by converting the life energy and the time when the energy is
happening into material pigment of the line. I believe that I am creating the almost tangible
proof of me being alive at all. I think for me it’s the directness of drawing
and the honesty that comes from drawing, because it is so direct, because it’s a great way
of getting down ideas very rapidly. I see myself as an artist before a curator but one
of the great things about curation is the chance to collaborate with other artists.
Twelve artists in the exhibition, and they were all chosen I think, for their distinct
personal vision. They are all Scottish, I think Scottish art is blossoming at the moment
and doing very well internationally. It’s very nice to be, to have our exhibition next
to two other exhibitions of drawing and I think it will be an interesting relationship
between the three. The exhibition at the RMIT Gallery is called
“A Head in a Hive of Bee’s” and it’s selected drawings that I’ve produced from 1974 to 2013,
so it spans a very long period of my career. Also I make paintings, objects and prints
but this exhibition focuses on the idea of drawing as a major core element of my career
and practice. Now I designed or invented this series of
four projects, which are called rooms, and enclosing myself solo in the room without
much of input of what I see. I’m always drawing what I see, I never draw from imagination,
that’s very important, I never work from imagination, I just observe and consciously draw what I
see. When I am in this cube, there is not so many things to look at and I am desperate
for sensory information which is very limited here and that was this big experiment, to
see what happens, what will happen with my drawing.
My own work there I think deals with dark tourism, I travelled to Germany to do the
research and produced a number of works or drawings from life, the site ‘Prora’ which
was a vast Nazi holiday camp, it was never completed but it’s an absolutely vast development
that takes 26,000 people, a fascinating site and I think the Germans had a real problem
at the end of the second World War because they obviously didn’t want to face their past,
so for forty years these buildings lay derelict and since the 1990’s, I think it shows that
they started to come to terms with their past because they’ve started opening them up again
as tourist sites. So the eagle’s nest is now a restaurant and Prora is, part of Prora anyway,
is now a youth hostel again, so it’s kind of come full circle.
Looking back at history is something that’s very important to me , I often will research
things and take inspiration from out of the past and out of many other cultures too, that’s
really important. Some of the large works which are made up of multiple panels, which
are small Japanese panels, sort of planned in a way although, a lot of the characters,
a lot of the elements in them come from my automatic drawing which is done rather spontaneously.
They’re very complex works and they’re heavily influenced in a technical way from Japanese,
Korean and Chinese calligraphy, the things that have influenced me in my life and right
from the age of fifteen or so, I always wanted to be a Zoologist, but simultaneously I changed
tack a little and wanted to become an artist and the two things, the use of animal imagery
is something that’s really important and it’s been in my work right from that particular
age, it still exists. Also the core of my work is Dada and Surrealism, particularly
Surrealism as a way of thinking about the world, rather than as an art movement which
I still think is relevant to today. So what’s happening now, I’m in the fifth
day of the process, the room is slowly transforming from the black cube in to the drawn reality,
I hope that on the end of it I will be inhabiting my drawing.
Drawing is a primordial act that links the mind to the hand and it’s something that we’ve
always done and it’s something that children do sometimes even before they can talk and
therefore I think it will always be very relevant. It’s a great privilege to exhibit in RMIT
Gallery. RMIT is amazing really nothing of this would
happen if not the huge support and help from the Gallery and the staff here, they are great
actually, they have to put up with me which is not easy, and I really like the context
of Peter Ellis’ exhibition, I like him, I like his work. I was introduced to the work
about a year ago at Langford’s and he’s so whimsical but also very human