Leaving one year, becoming the next.
The music playing on the car radio enhanced the seemingly epic qualities of the moment, as we drove northwards on the W 9…
Above: A drawing workshop participant eyes up her chosen plant specimen. We referenced John Ruskin quotations as thought provoking mottos within the sessions.
The Big Draw is the world’s largest drawing and visual literacy festival and this year its theme ‘Drawn to Life’ celebrates the benefits of being actively creative, to make positive change and improve wellbeing. The festival brings people together all over the world, to champion the ever increasing evidence, both anecdotal and academic, that a more creative life really can improve your health. Our sessions were inspired by nature and we took up John Ruskin’s approach to ‘drawing as a way of seeing’.
Drawing as a way of seeing”
Like Ruskin, I believe that drawing can be a disciplined, intensely mindful practice. Its a way to learn directly through observation of the world in all its inter-connected complexity, by and for oneself, rather than to only learn about it at second hand, from the distance of written language or as mediated by the education system.
Live art demonstrations and hands on drawing sessions took place throughout the afternoon. Artists of all ages, with a wide range of previous experience, from novices to art professionals, took part.
Sketchbook page. Fiona Candy.
The Artistry House guests joined in spontaneously to observe nature, react and respond to what they saw, by drawing. We worked with colour and the range of media provided. Differing approaches were encouraged and an openness to experimentation allowed exchanges of skill and experience. The beautifully restored interior of The Artistry House, and the many artworks and objects on display, enforced a sense of creativity as a way of being. There was a connection to nature and to each other, made through drawing … as the mellow autumn sunlight streamed in.
A restorative, inspirational afternoon. Thank you to everyone who took part.
Above and below: intense observation, the ‘cherry blossom’ gaze.
Special thanks to Uzma Padia for her assistance and to all at The Artistry House.
See our event on The Big Draw’s website here
In addition to the drawing activities at The Artistry House, I devised and led a series of group walking activities for The Big Draw and Preston Arts Festivals, in association with The Friends of Winckley Square. These walks meandered through Avenham and Miller Parks in the centre of Preston, during October 2019. On each walk a sequence of perceptual exercises took place at different locations and introduced creative techniques to tune in to and be inspired by the surroundings, particularly ephemeral atmosphere and sensory qualities.
Slowing down and getting into the right state of mind and body…
Perceiving connections, sensing and ‘drawing’ lines…
The haiku writing exercise continued at different locations: at the cut grass circle, along the river, around the fountain and in the bandstand.
Above: distilling the essence of moments. Examples of our draft haiku descriptive writing, pegged in situ ( click on images to expand them and click back to return).
Bringing awareness to the present moment has been shown to improve mental health and physical wellbeing. It can be especially helpful for those feeling weighed down by the past, or fearful of the future. Becoming more in touch with surroundings can aid feelings of calm, connection and balance.
On each walk we made collaborative artworks and placed them midway across the old railway bridge over the river Ribble, as material reminders of the benefits to mind and body of creativity and being fully present in the moment.
We interpreted the perpetually flowing river as a metaphor for time passing and the midway crossing point on the bridge as neither past or future: a site at which to celebrate our communal NOW moment.
We then compiled all the drawings using magnets onto the side of the old iron bridge:
As an ancient symbol of holism and unity, our circle seemed both enduring and ephemeral.
Thank you to all the walkers for their generous creative participation and also to Manda Johnson-Holme and Glennis Hulme for their encouragement and support.
And a special thanks to Tony Lewis, Park Warden for Avenham and Miller Parks and Friend of Winckley Square, for his support and creative input to The Big Draw activities.
At the end of one of the walks, I recorded this synchronistic moment, from the middle of the old iron railway bridge.
See our event on The Big Draw’s website here
Some touchstones in the development of these creative walks have been
Paul Klee (1879 – 1940) Klee’s highly individual art style was influenced by Expressionism, Cubism and Surrealism. He was a natural draftsman who also deeply explored colour theory. He taught at the Bauhaus school of art, design and architecture. https://www.paulklee.net
Hannah Tuuliki is a Finnish/Scottish contemporary artist working in the landscape, with voice, drawing and gesture. https://www.hannatuulikki.org
Richard Long – one of Britain’s best-known land artists. http://www.richardlong.org
Nancy Holt (1938-2014) An american artist who pioneered a unique aesthetic of perception, as a key member of the Earth, Land and Conceptual art movements. http://www.nancyholt.com
Hamish Fulton – English artist who translates his walking into a variety of media. http://www.hamish-fulton.com
Andy Goldsworthy OBE is a British artist known for his site-specific installations involving natural materials and the passage of time. Andy studied art at Preston Polytechnic. Watch a recent film about his work here: https://www.leaningintothewind.com
C.G. Jung (1875 –1961) Swiss born founder of analytical psychology, Jung was also an artist, craftsman and builder as well as a prolific writer. He cited an intense period of art making as hugely influential in the development of his theories of the unconscious. Suggest his last book, an autobiography ‘Memories, Dreams, Reflections’ as a starting point.
‘The Spell of the Sensuous. perception and language in a more-than-human-world.’ David Abram. Vintage Books. David Abram is an American philosopher, cultural ecologist, and performance artist, best known for his work bridging the philosophical tradition of phenomenology with environmental and ecological issues. https://wildethics.org
‘Presence’ is a leading British Haiku journal. www.haikupresence.org
Schumacher College is an internationally renowned learning community in Devon, offering ecology-centred masters programmes and short courses. https://www.schumachercollege.org.uk
The world’s largest drawing and visual literacy festival and this year its theme ‘Drawn to Life’ celebrates and explores the benefits of being actively creative to make positive change and improve wellbeing.
Saturday 12th October 2019 12 – 4pm
Live art sessions hosted by artists Fiona Candy and Atlantic Contemporary, will run informally throughout the afternoon. Join the Big Draw with the Friends of Winckley Square on Saturday 12th October for ‘HUMAN-NATURE’ at The Artistry House, 16 Winckley Square, Preston. The Artistry House doors will be open from 12 – 4 and you are welcome to pop in at any time during the afternoon to be inspired by art and explore the house. You are invited to participate and explore your creative side with live art sessions on portraiture and inspired by nature.”
Please note art places will be limited and provided on a first come first serve basis.
For booking information see Eventbrite: here
Join us for a companionable, creative group walk through Avenham and Miller Parks, for the Big Draw and Preston Arts Festivals.
During the walk we will introduce simple ways to tune in to and be inspired by our surroundings: the atmosphere and sensory qualities. We will draw, write and make, as we trace our movement through the park, working together to experience and experiment, using materials provided.
Each walk lasts about 2 hours. Places are limited.
A series of other guided walks on a range of topics, organised by the Friends of Winckley Square, will wander and weave through the centre of Preston, during the first three weeks of October 2019 as part of Preston Arts Festival.
More information about all of these walks here
Image above, from: ‘Memory of a walk’ © Fiona Candy, September 2019
Quotation by Paul Klee, from his Pedagogical Sketchbook, first published in 1925.
Examples of pages from Paul Klee’s pedagogical sketchbook, above.
Recently I’ve been drawing in response to experiences of walking through Preston’s city centre parks. On these walks I made my way intuitively, without any plan and sketched out routes and perceptual aspects as I moved along, using pencil line at first. I added to these very rough drawings later and made others from memory. I then combined elements and developed the drawings digitally.
I developed my own form of walking notation – (see earlier blog posts for more detail) and use it to trace and transcribe the walking activities.
As well as the work of Paul Klee, music and dance notation have been strong influences.
Above: small sections of walk ‘notation’ from my sketchbook
Above; John Cage music score
Above: a ‘Hornpipe’, an example of Baroque dance notation
Above: ‘Wednesday walk’ © Fiona Candy, September 2019.
These drawings are not conceived as ‘maps’ or diagrams in a conventional sense: no relationship to compass points or the relative scale of pathways or other features encountered in the park were considered. Rather, the drawings are expressions of spatial, embodied memories, of sensing and moving through ephemeral qualities of landscape.
Google Earth view of Avenham and Miller Parks
Newton’s 3rd Law of motion: When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body.
The video above is a raw edit of serendipitous moments captured via my iPhone when I attended an Instameet at ‘PEOPLE’, a temporary, ground level art installation by artists Low Profile. The PEOPLE artwork is part of celebrations to mark 50 years of Preston’s Bus Station, which was built in 1969 in the Brutalist architectural style.
The Instameet was organised by local curatorial partnership, In Certain Places. An exhibition called ‘Beautiful and Brutal: 50 Years in the life of the Bus Station’ will take place in the Harris Museum and Art Gallery, in Preston, Lancashire, later in the year.
Image above: ‘Because’
From my archive: a selection of digital images made following a trip to China, where I have merged antique textile finds with other moments and memories from my journey. Blurring boundaries between time and place.
Boy in Summer Palace Beijing, wearing stitched applique tee shirt. Embroidered section of a Tujia woman’s garment from Guizhou Province, Qing Dynasty, early 20th Century. Shanghai Museum Costume Collection.
Image below: ‘Cryptic Messaging’
Communicative and mysterious English language texts seen on teeshirts – a mass fashion phenomenon. One written in 1812 by Ludwig Von Beethoven in Teplitz; worn, read and photographed on The Bund, Shanghai, more than two hundred years later. Buddhist symbols on Qing dynasty woven textile from Shanghai Museum.
Photograph of motorway, taken from the train to Hangzhou. Qing Dynasty woven textile.
Continuing my time travel: I made a selection of visual experiments, aiming to trigger comparisons to social attitudes, opportunities and expectations of young people, past, present and future.
Images merge found photographs of late 19th/ early 20th century cotton millworkers in US, with components taken from recent media coverage of 21st century protest.
Thanks to Lewis Hine for his memories of doffers, spinners and scavengers…