You may remember that back in the summer of 2010 when I was working over in Speyer in southern Germany, I made a very large drawing. On that occasion it was based on the idea of walking around the outside of the huge cathedral that dominates the historic city of Speyer. It was like a very large, (4 m x 1.5 m) sketch, made using different shades of grey oil pastel. At the time I thought it might be my only opportunity to create such a large drawing and it was hugely enjoyable working on such a scale.
More recently, I started working on some new small graphite drawings based on the hills and mountains. I’ve been quite excited by these new drawings but even as I was doing them I felt that they would work much better on a larger scale. To start with I was really only thinking about moving up from A2 size to perhaps double A1 size, but then when we visited the Isle of Arran and did a walk up Glen Rosa a couple of months ago, I started to get an idea for another really big drawing! As we walked up the glen that day with the mountains all around and covered with snow, it started me thinking that this was almost the opposite to the Speyer cathedral ….where as the drawing I did of that was about walking around the huge building, here in Glen Rosa it was like walking inside a huge natural structure. Perhaps, I thought, I could create a big graphite drawing that conveyed something of the experience of being in this spectacular place.
The walls in my studio aren’t really suited to doing a large drawing as they are made from concrete blocks and have many pipes and electrical conduits running down them. It would however be possible to build a ‘false wall’ in front of this to create a large, smooth drawing surface and so this might be the way to go. The other option though might be to see this not just as a chance to do a big drawing but instead to try and make this more of an event, a way to promote both myself as an artist and the work itself. To do this I’d have to find a suitable public place to do the drawing and to promote the event as an opportunity for people to see the work in progress. As I anticipate such a drawing taking at least 4 weeks, it might be good for folk to be able to watch the thing develop, see the changes and mistakes; in short, to see the process. Taking this idea further, it might also be possible to set up a video cam linked to my website so that a much larger audience could watch the drawing develop.
It’s all ideas at the moment but on Wednesday we went back over to the Isle of Arran and headed once again for Glen Rosa. A few months ago I was invited to take part in some research work that was being done into the way visually impaired people perceive paintings. The research was being done by a chap called David Feeney from Edinburgh, and he recently got back to me to ask whether he could visit my studio and bring along a friend of his who is a film maker / photographer. It was an interesting few hours and to cut a long story short, they then asked if they could accompany Nita and me on one of our walks. David was interested in seeing the way Nita and I work together as ‘walker and guide’.
Our original plan was to meet at the Pentland Hills just outside Edinburgh but with heavy snow falling in the east, we decided instead to go over to the Isle of Arran and walk Glen Rosa. The path up the glen is for me much more difficult than the paths on the Pentland Hills so even though we would not be going up high, David and his colleague Dan would get a much better idea of how the guiding process worked. Of course it also gave me the opportunity to see the glen again ….and further develop my plans for the big drawing. Conditions were once again perfect, with snow on the mountains and their tops disappearing into heavy and dramatic clouds.
The walk proved useful for all of us. Dan got lots of film and photos taken, David asked many questions and I got lots of interesting information from both of them about how I might go about organising my big Glen Rosa drawing. Nita had an enjoyable walk and took plenty of photos too and we were delighted to find that David and Dan had left us a bottle of wine and some chocolate eggs …..everyone happy!