I had great response from all sorts of people on International Women’s Day when I posted a Sedimentary-Pea-Pod-Vagina image on Twitter and Instagram. These shapes, forms and lines are a little intoxicating. One person said they were somewhat disturbing… another sensuous…another that they held sexual tension… and another saying they felt they needed a shower… I’ll leave that thought with you a while…
Now these responses, whilst amusing and interesting, have also stopped me in my tracks a bit. These drawings are sort-of-automatic. I’ve said before that I don’t really look at the rest of the page when I’m drawing in one corner. Composition, while obviously to a degree a matter of habit and experience, does happen accidentally. Sometimes I like the wonky ones better. They are a little bit stream-of-consciousness…. so such responses have me asking what the hell is going on in my head? God knows.
My intention was/is to find a tension between the animal/vegetable/mineral so that the drawings are all or none of these things. I like confusion and ambiguity. But this? Questions will be asked!
My PROCESS is informed by my experience of drawing. Over 50 years of drawing, almost every day of my life, has led me to this. The CONTENT is informed by the last ten years or so of rather deeper thought than the previous 40… but the influence is there of course, by necessity. I haven’t had a brain transplant. Many of these years have been spent stitching so I have surprised myself by returning to drawing… until I think about it more carefully… then perhaps not such a surprise. There is something in my make up that draws me to drawing. Something in me that sees the importance of drawing. There are always connections when you look.
I spent about ten years teaching child development, behaviour, play and creativity to child care students, as well as working in a variety of pre-school environments as my own children grew up. I see drawing as a developmental tool and an indicator for all sorts of things. I spent all those years with all those students telling them that whatever else they provide for the children, they must ALWAYS provide pencils and paper, EVERY day, ALL the time. I have no idea if this has had an effect on anyone. I just know that it is important on a deeply human level. Hand-Eye-Brain coordination if you like. Expression. Fluency and “fitness”. Draw from observation, from imagination or whatever you like. Just draw.
I spent another ten years (with a bit of overlap) in a primary school trying to get people – parents – children – teachers – to understand there’s no such thing as “I can’t draw”. If we spent as much time on drawing as we do on literacy the evidence would be there. Everyone can draw. We teach children to read and write, but they’re not all going to be Nobel prize winners. We can teach* children to draw without expecting them all to become artists. There is a visual language that we need too. Some children possibly more than others need this way to communicate and we are not serving them well by denying them the time and attention needed.
Within this context, this Elena-ness, there is a purity about drawing for me. An essence of humanity. This is on a physical level, but also psychological and philosophical. I think there are reasons I became “stuck” working with the textiles. I needed something more… or maybe that should be something less… or something nearer? I needed to dig deeper. For this I needed a super conductor, so that less was lost between brain ~ hand ~ paper.
I am a little bemused by the comments I have received but also gratified. My work is always about some sort of touch and connection. So if the drawing as superconductor approach has led to the ultimate human connection that should come as no surprise should it?
As a result though, I now have questions that I should try to work through:
What are these animal~vegetable~mineral connections?
Is it on a cellular level or an intellectual level?
Is the “deeper” physical or conceptual or both?
Can I be more explicit about touch?
Can I be less chaotic about the cyclic nature of my subjects and themes?
Or is the chaotic what throws up the interesting things?
Is this really about sex?
Sex is really close to death… I wrote a song…
(Caution recommended – heavy breathing alert!)
*The word “teach” here encompasses many things from pre-school painting experiences through observational drawing, to expressing ideas to the learning of techniques…