Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Tuesday, 1 July 2014
Words, like arrows
I quite like this phone-camera picture. Maybe because when taking it, I didn't realise that H.I. was going to pop into view and be the off-centrepiece of the anti-clockwise, spiralling structure. This is the sort of structure that she spends hours analysing, but with me it was a happy accident. I can recognise it when I see it though, as most people instinctively can.
I tried to get her involved in the design of a 17th century style fire surround I had to make in stone a while ago, and the client said he wanted the theme of pears in the design, living in an area which had been known for its Perry production for many hundreds of years. (Yes, I know you have seen it before, but I don't think you saw the drawing.)
I bought a few pears, and left them with H.I., together with a scaled down rectangle which was the proportions of the space in which the design was to fit. She promised to set to work with pencil and paper as I went to the workshop to bash some more stone.
When I got home, I found that she had produced a drawing of a single pear.
I told her that I already knew what pears looked like, and that what I was really after was a flowing design which incorporated several of them in a visually pleasing manner.
She is a genuinely brilliant draughts-woman - I mean she can really draw - but her mind just does not run along the same tracks as a 17th century stone carver's.
Whenever we have been to a sculpture exhibition which includes working drawings by the sculptor, she has always expressed her dislike of the drawings, on the basis that most of them are utter crap.
Despite my defence of the artist in saying that a drawing which will be transposed into 3 dimensions will never contain the same sort of information as a drawing done for its own sake, she insists that this is no excuse to produce an ugly drawing.
She sort of has a point, but I think that if drawings have been made to help a sculptor carry out the work sitting as a great lump in the middle of a gallery, it might be interesting for the viewer to see how they got to that finished point.
What I hate is when the sculptor proudly frames and displays the working drawings, as if they were works of Art in their own right. They aren't, and most people will throw them away in shame when the work is done.
It's the same with film-maker's story-boards. Not many directors can draw to save their lives, but they still have to show the cinematographer what they want to see on screen in terms of composition, scene by scene. Have you seen Martin Scorcese's story-boards? They are truly awful, but the films are quite good.
Very occasionally, you will get a sculptor who can really draw. Rodin is a rare example, but when you consider that he never actually carved a lump of stone in his life (all of them were executed by Bourdin) it is easier to understand how - or why.
I can use a pen or pencil quite nicely, but I just don't have the eye or inclination to sit down and make a drawing for its own sake, unless it is a 'cartoon' type thing giving an instantaneous result which doesn't improve in the staring.
When you are plastic-modelling, you can build-up or remove the material as you think fit, but when you are carving, you can only remove it. You have to know exactly what the finished article is going to look like before you start.
I heard once that ancient Japanese archers were so accurate - even with seemingly impossible shots - because they had already released the arrow in their minds several times before letting go of the string, in the meditative build-up before the shot.
After this, there was only one place the arrow could go.