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Spring break

April 2006

I went on an all day walk on the Easter Sunday with only a backpack full of food to sustain me. I got to thinking, while I was walking, that what is most important is to draw the things that interest me the most. Since I decided that, drawing has been so much more free and easy to think of ideas, not limited to forcing everything into comic books. I now include family as a subject, for one thing. I have drawn faces of people in my immediate family before, but only with line drawings and I want to show more of the kind of atmosphere there was for me and my brother when we were growing up. I have been selecting family photographs stashed in biscuit tins at home. I like to see all the trends we lived through and to be reminded on the details of the past. I like to draw from the photos and to put a little bit of the story behind them. I want to draw these with pencils and press on with the colours so they are strong but keep our faces detailed.

As well as the family inspiration described above, I also realised that Cambridge is a place that interests me, and when I did this, it was like remembering how it was when I discovered it for the first time. Cambridge seems far more at home in post cards or Christmas cards than in front of my eyes. The buildings seem far too intricate to really exist. So I have been taking some photos of central Cambridge and the surrounding area and have been thinking about how to draw and paint from them. King's College Chapel

These interesting subjects of family and place and my old favourite, maths, may be put in books or categorised as a project, but it is important to do them and I enjoy it.

I went to the Kettle's Yard to see the exhibition called '1:1'. The exhibition showed representations of environments (or bits of environments) which had some part with the same scale as the original.

The first thing I noticed as I walked though the door was the funny rumbling noise with a drip drip drip. This set me on edge, wondering if the tiny Kettle's Yard building was going to fall down. The sound was recorded inside a canal tunnel next the main train station in Milan. Each place there was a microphone in the tunnel, there was a speaker in the gallery space. Later, I found two TV screens showing, slightly out of sync, a video of the the canal water, in true-to-life size, with the occasional leaf drifting majestically. This exploration of sound and place and atmosphere was called Infrastructure Hotel (2006) by the group DE-ABC (Gak Sato, Luca Pancrazzi, Steve Piccolo).

The first items in the gallery were a couple of maps, pressed between two sheets of glass. The maps were exact replicas of existing maps except any guide to interpreting the features had been removed. It was possible to spend a short time trying to reconstruct in my mind what the landscape might look like.

The largest floor space in the gallery was surrounded by a chain of framed drawings of fragments of litter the artist Luca Bertolo had gathered around his studio. The drawings looked grainy and gritty and so precise in their detail and dusty colour that I had to examine to see if it was not the real thing trapped under the glass. The scale was minutely increased in the drawings, such that it was only a suspicion that could easily have been dismissed. The overall sensation was of a room of neatly-arranged litter, almost museum pieces.

Fabio Sandri's Stanza (Room) was created by placing sheets of photosensitive paper on the floor of his room. The resulting photogram was hung from a high wall. Again, like the maps described above, there was a code to be deciphered made up of patterns of light and dark and mapping of 3 dimensions of the room to the 2 dimensions of the paper. I started looking at the virgin white circles where the chair legs contacted the paper, then traced up the legs of the chair that slowly faded into darkness. I did the same with the other furniture.

The most lovely part of the exhibition, for me, was the sense of journey that was created as I walked through the gallery. Each of the artist's work was sufficiently large to give me the feeling it was surrounding me. It reminded me of an '80 days around the world' fair ride, except instead of a recognisable country you get a carefully-considered recording of a bit of the world. But unlike the 'around the world in 80 days' trip with the models of people from different countries waving a mechanical hand at the passengers, this exhibition lacked some warmth, and these scientific and mathematical themes do not have to be interpreted this way.

I went on a Walk to take photos of near to where I live so I can draw from them. The photos are displayed above and to the left.

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