Sunday 24 April 2011

Happy Easter everyone! Thought I'd take some time out to post for you so you can read at your leisure in your giddy chocolate induced highs! So, here goes...

It’s no secret that I still have the occasional dream where I’m transported back in time by my mind to the weeks running up to the end of my Degree. To that last little bit where I had to hang and present our work. But I think most people have those little flashbacks don’t they?

My Final Project was a bit of an epic journey for me, in more ways than one. It’s the one where we were given pretty much free reign to do whatever we pleased and to try and get a good mark at the end of it!

I dived right in from the start, and planned to use every last minute available to me, and decided to base my Project on documenting buildings and streets in Norwich which had played a significant part of my family’s life. Of course this developed from lesser ambitions but slowly turned into an investigation of my direct ancestor’s lives; where they had lived, worked, loved, married and died. I’ve lived in Norwich all of my life and was already vaguely familiar with all of the buildings I ended up drawing. So it turned out to be a rediscovery of places, and everything was new with meanings and connections that hadn’t existed before.

Doing the research was SO interesting and fun. I realise that some people aren’t too bothered about where they come from, but I’ve always been intrigued by stories my Grandad would tell me about his own childhood, and what the things around him looked like. Built up areas which surrounded the city were once tantamount to the countryside, with long winding lanes, vast woodland and wide fields.

Grandad was never particularly forthright with his recollections, but much more shy about coming forward to share them. I think he believed that he had lived a very average life and didn’t feel the need for people to know everything about him (which was the exact opposite to the truth!). I could go on, but of course I won’t! But it gave me that bug to find out more and go back even further in time.

So buildings became my focus (I’d never really properly drawn buildings before) and I needed to forgo the A4 and A3 for large expanses of paper, eventually finding the perfect canvas in *drum roll* Fax Paper! Rolls and rolls of it. My goodness I had fun! I loved that the dimensions of the paper guided my drawing in different directions than usual. I carefully drew whole streets and documented all that I could see. They took a long time (weeks and weeks) and I had to ditch my trusted rickety stool which had been my main companion for some of the smaller drawings which I did ‘on location’. Instead having to admit defeat thanks to the grotty English winter weather, and draw from photos. I hate admitting that, but these drawings wouldn’t exist if I had kept within the realms of day long drawings perched on my stool with an umbrella hanging precauriously above me. So it’s kind of good really.

Coincidentally (seeing as my degree was actually in Textiles and not Illustration) I found that most of my ancestors had been handloom silk weavers, which was one of the main areas of work in Norwich. I got all the way back to the 1700’s and found that my family had a penchant for the names Jacob and Robert (my granddad being something like the 7th Robert with two more below him). In some of my Illsutrations I was able to encorporate the silk link into them, but that’s for another day.

And that’s my project! Because the drawings are so lonnnnnng, I will have to post these over the course of a few weeks. And I’ll say a tiny bit about them too (nothing as epic as this post - thank you for reading it despite it’s size! I never air on the side of caution when it comes to the size of my posts as I absolutely love reading...I know this isn't the case for everyone!)

A quick recap of the Illustrations, more so you can see the scale of the drawings (from an old post)...

And now here is Guernsey Road. It measures 5.6 metres (I'm a little shocked about this...have never actually measured it!) and is shown here in sections with some little closeups...

Given how long this Illustration is, I've never imagined it to be hung on someone's wall. And I kind of think it's fun that I have so much I could play with in terms of developing areas into individual Illustrations or prints. I have used a small section for a Greeting Card and also one of my fabric screenprints. But I have bigger plans for the rest and would like to experiment with some layers of collage to introduce colour. Hopefully I'll be interjecting a little post in a while with some beautiful prints as a result of that idea. Here's hoping!

Hope you enjoyed the post, and thanks for having a little looksee! Until next time!

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