Who knows if this will grow legs and walk…

December 30, 2010

So, the idea is that I post out to gay artist colleagues a blank Visual Diary, the recipient fills the artist’s sketchbook, posts it back to me for a temporary exhibition of all the books here in Sydney Australia and then I re-post it back to the artist so s/he can shelve it alongside all their other sketchbooks.

Yep, it’s been done before, but the basic idea is a good one: to get (gay or GLBTQI) artists to share their sketches and ideas, to assemble primal, unstudied/pre-studied, visual responses to their environments, to revive lost or discarded drawing skills, to play in an otherwise serious, cataclysmic world. Participants don’t have to be professional artists who create every day for a living. Those of who have been around the block a few times know the value of daily drawing. This isn’t a competition or intentionally an exercise in glorifying the lost art of pencil drawing. Ideally it will appeal to those who draw infrequently or doodle but spasmodically who yearn to improve, to develop accuracy or fluency, submit to the gentle discipline of daily drawing as part of their life’s routine – manga artists, comic drawers, textile artists, potters, designers, those who have never put pencil to paper before but are intrigued by the simpliciyt of the act.

The original American model for this exercise was of course Someguy’s 1000 Journals and involved A4-sized hardbound sketchbooks. I’m currently involved in a similar ‘event’ involving a A5-sized sketchbooks, which personally I’m finding cramps my own particular drawing or sketching ‘style’; I prefer A4 to get a good pencil or sanguine/conte pencil drawing session going and for large gestural hand movements A3 is a minimum.

In terms of logistics, I’ll start looking around for buying sketchbooks in bulk and work out the cost of postage (twice) domestically within Australia as a guide for covering costs. The guiding financial principle will certainly be to cover costs; this not a profit-making exercises or a drama queen’s status-climb to Become Known. A post office box address seems the way to go, if only to lighten the load of my poor postie, as well as the obligatory blurb and Fine Print (timeframes, don’t return empty books, don’t turn the book into something it’s not). A small exhibition in February 2012, ideally in time for Sydney Mardi Gras, with a double-page of each on view, Chrissie Cotter Gallery Marrickville perhaps (though I’d need cabinets rather than the standard wall space), will put our joint efforts out there for other would-be sketchers to get inspired, to perhaps include drawing as part of their daily life.

In terms of personal commitment, I’ve yet to set a timeframe. December 2011 sounds too far away; it shouldn’t take participants twelve months to fill a 120-page sketchbook. People interested though should have a good chance to join in after the word gets around a bit. Finishing the book completely sounds not unreasonable. Returning it in its original size is a proper principle too, since this is not an exercise in the book becoming transmogrified into a bookbinding project or installation. Media remains without constraint (pencil, pen, pastels, chalks, mixed media); the same goes for content, respecting those laws which routinely govern sexual content, race, ethnicity, religion, &c. and generally sticking to the principle of Doing No Harm. In terms of risk analysis, I have to give thought to those who will abuse the process and develop contingency plans. The “gay” isn’t meant to be restrictive, but more of an indicator of how we see the world – the whole post-modernist thing about community and hybridity and the local and personal history and private journey.

I’ll post my own drawings here on a regular basis. There’s nothing like ‘going public’ to galvanise the mind.

References

1000 Journals (Someguy), 2008 DVD. Direected by Andrea Kreuzhage. Region 1 only. 88Mins.

1000 Journals Project by Someguy. Chronicle Books, 212pp. ISBN-10:0811858561.

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