Thursday, 17 November 2011


I was reclining on my chaise longue, sipping hand-squeezed kumquat juice and screaming at attendants for scrubbing the floor with their own clothes, and not toothbrushes (better detail, darling) when a thought occurred: can I persuade people to make my art for me?

Actually, that’s not strictly true. This might seem lazy, but I want other people to interact with my next work – even to participate in the making of it. I consulted my friend Carla Easton, creator of some superb pieces which invite viewers to stand on sculptures and make the pieces sing. Getting folk to make your work and passing it off as your own – that could save some wear and tear on my joints. But that’s not the point. It’s about input, and participation, and a different view.

And also laziness. Well on my part anyway. Carla’s work meanwhile, is (I hope she doesn’t mind me saying this) entertaining. People clamber over her work, initiating a joyous cacophony of recorded pieces, triggered when they tread on hidden points of contact.

Carla said: ‘When I made my interactive sculptures I required interaction in order to activate the piece. So the pieces already existed as objects without interaction but once played with it was the activation and the relationships formed through the activation that became the work.

So you need to figure out if the finished painting is the piece or if the passers by being part of the finished painting is the work I think. And the tricky thing is getting people to want to take part. You have to figure out why it is essential that they do and try and invite them in.’

My wise friends are genuinely helpful. Dismissing all my servants, I decided to make a collaborative interaction, and took my trusty watercolours to my life drawing class All The Young Nudes at The Flying Duck (many thanks).

Handing the set of paints and a blank page could be unnerving even for a seasoned artist, so I set rules: one colour, and one stroke or action. The result would of course be abstract, not figurative (or so I assumed.)

I applied the first stroke, which could have been made into anything really – it was quite amorphous which in itself set the tone, and passed the baton/brush to Charlie, who ran with it, adding well-placed mauve stipples. People kindly joined in: some appeared to be doing their own thing, others apparently reacted to what had gone before. The choice of colours was telling: nobody selected the same shade as their predecessor, and everybody worked with  in contrasts.

One maverick waited to the bitter end (I had to declare the piece finished) and placed his mark with a black thumbprint. And I wanted mavericks, so was gratified to see stippling, dots and watery hues running deliberately across the page. So intriguing is the result that Joanna of AYTN has suggested a follow up session, on a larger scale than A4.

This is one form of practice I can tick it off my list with big plus sign. No hive mind here: but any individuals making work in harmony, started by my one brush stroke.

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Life drawing again.

Life drawing again.

Life Drawing

Life Drawing
Almost human