In Manual Setting visitors leaf through sketchbooks together with exhibitors: artists, scientists and writers. This enacts the viewing of a notebook as a hand-held, shared and performative activity. Who is revealed during this process of showing and being shown? An enquiry is made concerning intimacy and the border between personal and private, as well as the provisionally sketched and the finished.
Books can often only be exhibited in cases, boxes or frames one page at a time. Handling the sketchbook/notebook repairs the loss of human contact with these objects. There can be a reconciliation with the manual practice of showing to others, activating lively discussion between maker and audience.
In the house/gallery setting, several people who keep notebooks will be situated around the building. These include Dino Alfier, Eleanor Bowen and Paul Ryan (who co-curated this project with Danielle Arnaud), as well as a changing list of invited guests: see below for guests on each day.
Manual Setting takes place from 2-5pm and 6-9pm on the following dates:
Friday 28 January: Hephzibah Rendle-Short
Wednesday 2 February: Anne Lydiat
Saturday 5 February: Archaeology day - Martyn Barber (Aerial Survey, English Heritage), Helen Wickstead (Archeology Professor, Kingston University) and Simon Callery
Sunday 6 February: Science Sunday - Keith Moore (Royal Society) and Christine Hatt
Tuesday 8 February: Paul Meade followed by fundraising event for local drawing project led by Paul Ryan
Friday 11 February: Ivan Cartwright and Nick Bullions (Campaign for Drawing)
Dino Alfier is an artist whose work focuses on drawing. He studied art and art history at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, and pursued an MA in painting at the University of the Arts London, where he is currently undertaking an art practice-led PhD that employs drawing within a metaethical framework by addressing French philosopher Simone Weil’s ethical notion of attention. His research considers how Weil’s notion of attention can expand the scope of art so as to include metaethics; and one of the strategies he uses to pursue this aim is to invite an interpretation of his observational drawings as representing an intention to develop an attitude of detachment. Even though Dino has been using and exhibiting sketchbooks for several years, it is only through his research that he has come to realise how they may embody a certain ethics of drawing: namely, drawing as action, or attempt, rather than as independent result.
Eleanor Bowen studied painting at Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts, subsequently holding an Abbey Major Scholarship at the British School at Rome. She supported a visual arts practice for a number of years, until a drawing residency with the RSC, and a drawing/dance teaching collaboration, led her to take an MA in Visual Arts and Theatre at Wimbledon School of Art, followed by a practice-based PhD.
I have not until now reflected on my habit of keeping sketchbooks as anything other than a private activity stemming primarily from the impulse to collect, which is at the heart of my drawing practice, to put something away for later (so that in time, opening a book or turning a page, you come across something that has slipped entirely from memory or the conscious mind). Perhaps in my case the keeping of sketchbooks emerged from an early childhood habit of telling stories. Like many children, I spun tales for my own secret pleasure, often enacting characters, objects and events. There is an aspect of enactment and also ‘spin’ in the process of notating, before it is lost, that which is experienced through the senses, through memory and thought. There is also a delicious sense of freedom in being invisible, and the kind of surreptitious drawing that sketchbooks allow opens up the possibility that you are indeed essentially unsee-able. Showing the hidden, the throw-away, the forgotten and incomplete will perhaps be like sifting the debris thrown up by an archaeological trench, loosing more than was ever apparent in the compacted ground.
Paul Ryan's work is held in the collections of The British Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, Royal Mint and The Wellcome Trust: the venue for his solo exhibition Rebound in October 2007. Recent drawing collaborations include: Epstein’s Liverpool for Tate Liverpool, and Portrait of John Hough for London’s Pocket Tube Map, both with Jeremy Deller, also White Flag Editions with Kate Davis. His work Studio in your Pocket was included in The Artist’s Studio at Compton Verney, where he is now curating a major exhibition bringing contemporary artists' interventions into the collection of British Folk Art, What the Folk Say.
In 2009 Paul Ryan completed a practice led PhD on The Sketchbook and its Positions in the Hierarchies of Making, Collecting and Exhibiting. This argued that by understanding how sketchbooks mean what they do, artists can be empowered to use these objects in new ways as exhibits, and artworks in their own right. It also argued that sketchbooks are undergoing a re-evaluation as something much more that a studio tool in terms of how they are collected, and the discourse concerning them. He has made sketchbooks the centre of his practice since 1995. The concept for Manual Setting arose when discussing with Danielle Arnaud the problems of sketchbooks having to be exhibited in cases, where they cannot be handled.
Nick Bullions is currently the Company Administrator for the Campaign for Drawing. In 2009 he completed a part time MA in Drawing at Camberwell College of Arts. During which and prior to studying he worked as a Curatorial Consultant to the Henry Moore Foundation. Before that he coordinated the Social Cohesion Partnership for NEWTASC (New Towns as Sustainable Communities), an action research project that explored the role of the arts as a means of defining identity in new towns across Northern Europe. He has also spent a considerable amount of his working life in local government having worked as a curator for municipal collections, as well as a Visual Arts Manager and Arts Officer. He has been keeping sketchbooks since childhood.
‘I have never drawn in a sketchbook with the intention of making something that can be displayed or seen by others. I use them predominantly as means of focusing, passing time or recording thoughts. At best they could be described as way-markers representing literal points in my life. At worst they provide a surface on which to make truly awful drawings. They are undoubtedly born out of my desire to create, to make a mark on the world. In this respect I find them very liberating.’
Simon Callery is a painter whose recent work has been informed by the experience of archaeological excavation sites and landscape in change. This has led to development of paintings that aim to communicate on a multi-sensory level and challenge the conventions of the visual in contemporary painting. He was educated at Campion School, Athens and graduated from Cardiff College of Art. He has worked in Turin, Italy and currently lives and works in London. He has held solo exhibitions in the UK and internationally since 1992. These include:
Sensation, Royal Academy of Arts; Paper Assets, British Museum; Art Now 19, Tate Britain.
Works in public collections include: Arts Council Collection; Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art (Oslo, Norway); Comune di Carrara (Carrara, Italy); Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery; British Museum (London); European Investment Bank (Luxembourg); Fonds National d'Art Contemporain (Puteaux, France); South Glamorgan County Council (Cardiff); Tate (London).
My idea of a sketchbook is something that can function to connect me to the places I find myself in when I am out of the studio. The drawings are a record of where I am, where I have been and are not notation or prompts for work I want to make back in the studio. I am very wary, perhaps even superstitious of going through any preparatory process of making a work, even as thought, before I physically confront the materials that I will work with to make a painting. These portable drawing blocks go with me whenever I’m away. I keep the drawings in there always – even when they are finished and complete as drawings alongside unfinished sheets. It’s a mobile archive that accumulates and as soon as an intention for the contents of one is clear, I will make a new one for the next trip. I had one block that I used to take with me to Greece over several years. At the end of each trip I used to wrap the drawings (they had been washed in the sea) in polythene and keep then wet, in a desk in London, until I had the chance to go back and carry on.
The ceramics are the result of a project where contemporary art was shown alongside Neolithic artifacts; Langdale axe heads, burial urns, sherds, flints and beadwork found in the landscapes of the North Lakes in Cumbria. It was a group show at Penrith Museum where half the exhibitors’ names were unknown and irretrievably lost. Each ceramic is a full bag of clay pushed onto rock faces at a place called the Apron of Stones, Carrock Fell, where it was too cold to sit and hold a pencil steady. It was a direct way for me to connect with their world, through a shared experience of a landscape and like the drawings it was a way for me to find a place for myself in it.
Ivan Cartwright is a visual artist and performer. He studied Theatre Design at Wimbledon School of Art (1980) and Film Making at Croydon School of Art (1985) after which he largely worked as a live artist and performer, the latter of which he continues to do. Having been out of traditional art education for many years he decided to go "back to basics" and completed a part-time Foundation in Art and Design course at Camberwell School of Art (2009). It was while doing this last course that he developed an interest in working with sketch books, both as traditional sketch book, but also as journal/confessional. He continues to develop this practice today both as source material and reference and finished product in and of themselves.
He has exhibited twice at the Grosvenor Pub in Brixton with a small group of Camberwell alumni under the umbrella Envy Lines. He is also currently studying printmaking at Morley College, a practice which he intends to develop and extend.
He has led an extremely checkered and varied personal life and indeed still does, all of which feeds into the sketchbooks and which he is only too happy to chat about with people if they are interested. All you have to do is ask!
The exhibition Manual Setting has provided me with a creative opportunity to show my drawings made in ‘sketchbook’ form. Although, I don’t think of them as sketchbooks ie as containing ideas and notes for possible later works, they are artworks in themselves, unfolding sculptural spaces, making time and place visible.
Recent group exhibitions:
TIME PIECES, ‘Time and Tide’. Peter Scott Gallery, Lancaster Institute for Contemporary Arts. Lancaster.
Orchestra of Strings ’Return Flight’. Crypt Gallery, London, 2010.
space(river)between ’Rising Tides’, International Gallery, Liverpool Biennale, Liverpool, 2010.
Specula: Drawing Time. ‘Performing the City’ a Global Centre for Drawing Project shown at: RMIT Melbourne, Australia. Drawing Space, Dubai and Drawing Space, Hong Kong. 2010.
Atmosphere, ‘Moon Moth’, Ginza Art Lab, Tokyo, Japan, 2009.
‘The Moons of Hagashiyama’, Night Garden Art Project at Kodai ji, Kyoto, Japan, 2008.
‘Artsunwrapped’, Acme Open Studios, London, 2007.
Ghandi Group, ‘Flight’, Museum of Modern Art, Santiago and University of Valparaiso, Chile, 2007.
Jerwood Drawing Prize, ‘There and Back’. London, 2005/6
One person exhibitions:
‘Psychogeographical Traces’, in Tourism and Performance, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, 2005:
‘Permission to Speak’, Freud Museum, London, 2002:
‘WITHOUT’, Beguinage of Saint Elisabeth, Kortrijk, Belgium. 1999.
Publications/Artworks in books:
City as Material: The River, ‘Performing the City’ drawings. Bookleteer. London, 2010.
‘Casuistry’ in Pilgrimage, University of Middlesex. Ed. Nicky Coutts. 2006
‘Site Readings’, (artists book) The Library of Alexandria. Egypt, 2002.
‘lost for words…’ (artists blank book) 1999
ALL OR NOTHING, An anthology of blank books. Ed. Michael Gibb. Amsterdam.
Video works inspired by John Cage’s silent work 4’33”
‘Fly by Night’, (looped video of a butterfly kite at night), Nara, Japan, 2010.
‘Blue’, sky over Vancouver, Canada.
‘catching shadows’, Italy.
‘High flyer’, (flying a bird kite) Reichstag, Berlin.
Paul Meade graduated from Anglia Polytechnic University in 2002.
My sketchbooks are a means of drawing practice, exploring and clarifying ideas for paintings and other projects, making studies to help understanding and studies from other artists, and a means of recording my own thoughts and insights and meaningful quotes from artists and thinkers.
PhD by project at the Royal College of Art.
In this project H is trying to remember the house though it is uncertain if the house ever existed, thus suggesting a void and so staging an ongoing deferral of the object - the house that cannot be found, perhaps never was - perpetuating a continual motion of presentation. Using a whole array of materials including, A4 paper, canvas, date stamp, felt tip, ink, paint, pen, plaster, wax, H is constructing a network of different forms, for example diagrams, drawings, paintings, and STO’s (strange transitions objects) as re-collection in an attempt to cast around for a truth about what is missing.
My notebooks form the central thread to my practice and come in two groups. The first group function as a place in which I chronologically record my ideas and other peoples’ ideas as I encounter them. These books are an exploration of thought and theory that run through my project comprising mainly written text - though not entirely. The second, smaller group of notebooks is an ongoing record of psychoanalytic sessions undertaken by H and comprises mainly drawings, though again - not entirely.