The morning of the first session of EDAM this term was devoted to discussing progress on our 'homework' over the Easter break of researching ideas through drawing on the subject of "Meanwhile..." to be interpreted any way we decide. This is working towards a show of work on paper at the RK Burt Gallery in July.
We were given some references/ starting points : "The Last London" by psychogeographer Iain Sinclair; "Milkman" -novel by Anna Burns and link to Layers of London mapping.
Given my current interests in mapping, and sense of place , the latter is what interested me most. Several people had read the articles and novel ( I read summaries/ extracts and decided they weren't for me ) and the diversity of approaches was fascinating. Some people had done a lot of preparation and drawings already , others ( like me) had some ( too many?) ideas but hadn't yet decided what to pursue .
The tutors emphasised at this point the use of drawing to investigate and explore possibilities, the process being more important than the result, to open up rather than refine or close down choice .
I had the disadvantage of presenting my ideas first when people were more reserved and polite .By the time we'd gone round the room ( with a coffee break in between) , there was lots of interjects of artists that might be of interest, resources to look up, linkages and common areas of interest. What a great group.
My initial thoughts on 'meanwhile' was travelling on the Javelin line trains between Faversham and St Pancras International. A 'space out of time' with no distractions ( apart from looking out the window!) , it's where lately I've been most productive creatively , able to think, plan, stitch. " Wind Me The Sea" was mainly stitched on the train ( in an airline seat with a small basic sewing kit) and the artists statement references the continual loop of the train line ( from St Pancras , after Faversham it continues round the coast and then back to St Pancras via Ashford International).
The train is what made it possible to move from London to Faversham, be mortgage free and yet still be able to commute to work. We still remember our train journey on the day we moved house , technically homeless, communications with the solicitor on the phone being interrupted when in 'Tunnel Land' with no signal.
I'm interested in the schematic representation/diagram of the train route in comparison to on a map ( and have bought different scale maps from OS to trace from ) In February , one of my daily drawings ( top) was of some of the things I notice from the train: rolling fields and orchards :oast houses; Rochester cathedral, castle and bridge; Gravesend Sikh temple ; the emptiness of the Hoo Peninsula; Rainham Marshes ( my favourite section )
With my interest also in archeology and old bits of pot I did some research on the excavations made when digging the HS1 route , what lies beneath (like the elegant map above of finds when excavating Crossrail ) . Which is how I discovered about the 'Ebbsfleet Elephant' - fascinating!
I've also been looking at repeating the mapping processes on cloth applied to the walk from my house to the station ( based on maps of directions I drew for friends)
It's a long time since I used my camera and even longer since I used it to take blurred photos from the train ( even in 2008 I was talking about revisiting previous work! ) . That included the Journal Quilt I made after 7/7 and the piece I eventually made based on Shinkansen journey in Japan.
This was influenced by the series 'Separate Landscape' by Atsuhide Ito about 'non-places' and it's been interesting to catch up with what he's working on now
Taking these photos from my seat between Ebbsfleet International and Stratford International ( the high speed section) I was very aware of the sudden switch from views out of the window speeding by , to tunnel walls and fencing as descended and then the reflections of the interior of the train in the windows . I get so absorbed in writing/ stitching, doing the Metro crossword , in my own little world, it is only in the tunnels , when cut off from signals to the outer world that I become aware of other people , even if it is just their reflections.
Now I need to think further on the aspects of this theme that I wish to explore further and what drawing techniques I might use