Sketching with Friction


   In the lead up to Christmas I’ve begun to submerge myself further into the sketching process, exploring Endings in much greater depth in ways that feel both challenging and eye-opening in their ability to unpeel much more of my current thinking that seemed previously hidden.

   This week’s blog will be thinking in detail about a specific sketching exercise that took place recently; an image-making exercise not too dissimilar from collage, facilitated by the brilliant folks over at Friction Arts.

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   A workshop this week tasked myself and others within a group to create a series of images based on themes given by the facilitator. We were to work in silence, were not allowed to talk with one another, and were to rely on body-language and non-verbal queues to create with one another. We were allowed to alter the image – even if we had not created the “aspect” we were editing – without having to ask for permission, which felt like we were breaking some kind of unspoken taboo.

   The images we created were formed from a series of objects available to us – from old phones, clothes, dolls, through to playing cards, the objects felt like a retrospective (and at times, slightly nightmarish) toy box. The objects themselves brought memory and reminiscence (potentially melancholy) to the centre of the space, and it felt like these associations with the objects provided were the instigators of many images created, rather than their physical appearance alone.

   With the group’s permission, we made images from the theme that has been fuelling my own work as of late – “Endings” – and almost instantly I dropped down into a different thinking/feeling/being state where my own image-making processes felt much more instinctual. I felt that I instantaneously knew what materials I wanted to work with,, and worked much more confidently than before. After some time, what emerged became quite clear;

   Looking back, I think the group gave me some space during this exercise, as most of the image had been created by me, with one other person adding details such as the doilley and bauble. I wonder if the place I had dropped down to within this exercise had excluded other people to some extent, as I remember losing focus of what others were doing to such an extent that other imagery within the space came as a complete surprise – I hadn’t seen or heard it taking place.

   I think, In that moment, I’d been given some permission to grieve and experience an ending in a way that I hadn’t done up until that point. It felt introspective – so much so that nothing outside of the creation of that image really mattered at the time – and I became so lost in making that out grew a piece of work that really dug down into the depths of the questions I’m beginning to try to even understand.

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   The end of a relationship – with family, with friends, with lovers – can in itself feel like a death. A denied death – one we conceal until what is remaining is so decomposed and distorted that to understand its origins we have to look at our past through an incredibly hard lens.

   Do we ever really name the time where we are saying out final goodbyes to someone we are in a relationship with unless they are dying? We can mask the profound loss evoked by endings when we throw out lines like “We should meet for a coffee soon!” or “We’ll definitely keep in touch”. Sometimes the fear of hopelessness causes us to offer out false hope – bandages for the wounds of loss that only serve to mask the injury, to only delay the chance of healing. What would happen if we truly acknowledged our last goodbyes with people – what would happen if we said goodbye to one another and both of us knew that this was really the end?

   As of late I’ve witnessed more conversations emerging around the importance of rituals around death, including the need to grieve and mourn for the loss of a loved one. However these discussions still centre on the very physical aspect of death that initiates endings. We don’t yet seem to be naming the endings emerging from being ghosted, from breaking up with lovers, from relocation or from simply drifting apart.        

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   By shifting image-making mediums, I was able to shift position. By physically altering the way I work, I was able to understand and view the central theme of my work in a way that I hadn’t considered previously. I think in this sense, these kinds of activities really emphasize what it means to sketch. Experiment, learn, understand – to give an impression.

- Eve

 

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