DRAWING, PERMANENCE AND PLACE
Drawing, (im)permanence and place…Helen Carnac 2011
‘Alterity, we are told, is non linear. The other side of the coin, however is to assume that life is lived authentically on the spot, in places rather than along paths. Yet how could there be places, I wondered if people did not come and go? Life on the spot surely cannot yield an experience of place, of being somewhere. To be a place every somewhere must lie on one or several paths of movement to and from places elsewhere. Life is lived, I reasoned, along paths, not just in places, and paths are lines of a sort. It is along paths, too, that people grow into a knowledge of the world around them and describe this world in the stories they tell’ Tim Ingold..Lines a short History
My work considers and is consumed by paths, lines, marks and time…in no particular order they run alongside and across each other. My practice is grounded in the environment and I develop projects using design methodologies that are rooted in an acute awareness of physical location, place and working practices. The populated environment is of key importance to me. Through my practice and projects I aim to bring people together, creating social and creative engagement and collaboration in an open-ended design process.
I am concerned with relationships between humans and nature through observing short-term day-to-day impacts and longer term temporally evolved traces of co-existence. In practice this may involve watching for and identifying small change. I make observations through walking known routes over and over again, by understanding unknown place through journeying and collecting or by observing material change through using empirical and experimental methodologies in developing my work. I seek to track traces and patterns and to develop more metaphorical understandings.
My approach to material comes from a background in making and the use of my primary material, metal. I have an acutely developed tacit or embodied understanding of material and the handling of it. In order to develop work materially, I have to have the ability to accommodate change and to take measured risk. In this process there is the knowledge at the outset that I do not know emphatically what will happen, but through an innate understanding of this material I can push it knowledgeably into new directions. It may be called a material-based scientific view.
When developing projects I find approaches through which I can look for likely or unlikely connections to people and the environments that we live in. I seek to look below the surface, to dig deeper and to pose questions, even when they may not be answered. I usually develop a brief from a site-specific perspective and most recently have explored the environs of Seattle, Antwerp and Berlin, from which I have drawn on material for this body of work.
When working I collect visual material using photography, within and alongside my drawing and enamel work. Sifting through my recent images of Berlin, I am struck by a lack of permanence, of a layering of marks that gradually define change: that, even if a building seems permanent in its structure, its surrounding or surface may be changing, sometimes seemingly before us. Any surface is a potential canvas, no surface escapes being graffitied, marked, tagged or stuck onto or indeed being influenced by natural changes in the atmosphere.
It is this that I am enthralled by.
‘The abstractions of nature in juxtaposition with the abstractions of human activities are two forces at work’
I try to acknowledge language as a key and primary issue when moving about: how for example, we may use the same words differently in different locations, that we don’t always have the right words, so need to borrow from other language(s) and that we may not assume to have a universal understanding of words, both in cultural and historical terms.
Can language be permanent? Can it stick? Or does it fade and change as we change and how is drawing or marking part of this language?
Drawing is a physical and embodied process that can convey something of a place. Marking is a human activity that embodies something of the physical act of drawing. The marks that are left behind in the cityscape, whether knowingly or not, seem to act as a language. Can these marks communicate something about place-ness and of time, perhaps about how they were left or subsequently captured, that quietly reveals something more about our need to make or leave a mark?
copyright Helen Carnac
copyright and thanks to Chris Stock for photos…