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3 June 2012

Drawing Breath -Bow Wharf, Langport

This week you're going to get two posts for the price of one! Had a fantastic day viewing art this week, visiting two exhibitions in one day: namely, 'Drawing Breath' in Bow Wharf, Langport and 'One to Twenty' in the Glove Factory, Yeovil.
So, firstly, may I present: 'Drawing Breath' in Langport. 'Seven artists reassess their relationship with the great outdoors' Featuring work by, Sara Dudman, Alice Crane, Simon Lee Dicker, Jon England, Debbie Locke, Michael Fairfax and Tracey Hatton.
I've included a few photos that present a taste of the work in the exhibition and a little summary of each of the pieces (although I would strongly encourage you to view it in person as it is well worth a look). What was the most reassuring and interesting aspect for me was the way that the theme of 'drawing' was approached in many different aspects, from the more traditional and exquisitely executed pictorial drawings by Tracey Hatton, the more painterly, personal and mixed media drawing styles of Alice Crane and Sara Dudman and then the less conventional ways of drawing like Michael Fairfax's use of the elements, such as the sun to burn onto wood or light to reflect which creates miniature camera obscuras in glass beads (still a form of drawing I would argue). That idea of 'drawing' as mark making continues, in true inventiveness with Jon England's use of boot polish as an indexical reference to traces of history and his research into WW2 narratives, people, places and events and even more so in Debbie Locke's rucksack drawings (not pictured here) which are essentially abstract inky traces, but are an honest and spontaneous account of the 'action' and moment of being in a place outside. If drawing is a form of mark making, then it seems only logical to question, 'what is a mark?' And although it would seem to me that all the artists here are creating a mark or marks in some way, I think what is interesting about that process is the range of what 'marks' can be and the even greater number of potential ways in which they can be made, of which a good variety of examples can be seen here. It got me thinking that in a way all forms of art are in some way concerned with mark making of some kind. In turn, it makes me think of what the first ever 'mark' that was made would have been, I speculate it must have been mankind's hand/footprint on the Earth, which in a full circle kind of way is quite a humbling reason for going back in an exhibition that focuses not just on the potential for drawing and mark making but looks at those in relation to our roots and origins of mark making history, through the relationship we have with the great outdoors and the landscape.

Debbie Locke creates drawings in true 'Heath Robinson' style using a rucksack and ink to create drawings that are not so much about creating a pictorial image of the landscape but instead are concerned with exploring our relationship with our surroundings and ways of recording people's journeys. In the piece here, she has created a kinetic drawing installation using GPS and adapted children's toys to map the data.  

(Close up of the same drawing) Ok, so the GPS element of Locke's work might not be 'Heath Robinson', but the principle of using an object of play, in this case, lego as a means of creating a map does allow for chance and a certain degree of spontaneity that is quite low-tech and, as Locke herself puts it, "challenges the notion of the infallibility of machines".

Sara Dudman's paintings are "expressive interpretations of memories of places and times triggered by close connection and knowledge of the subject" The act of drawing as a kind of 'drawing out' was the impression I had.

"Simon's art explores contemporary notions of landscape with a focus on the "tension between proximity and distance, body and mind sensuous immersion and detached observation."

Jon England uses WW2 boot polish and parachute silk to create this image. His work is known for its use of unexpected materials with a resonance that relates them back to their subject matter, with the work he has produced focusing on WW2 as his subject matter and research enquiry where everything from pillboxes, abandoned airfields, the great escape and more. Most recently a site specific piece working with The Fleet Air Arm Museum. I like the use of a tree canopy in relation to the kind of canopy created in under a parachute and how those two things work together in terms of creating a sense of place.

'Drawing Breath' is on until the 28th June. Please visit: for more details.

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