After surveying my images from last week I decided it would be a good idea to display them on a temporary gallery space in the Estate Office. By copying sketchbook images and notes, changing the scale of some and displaying them altogether helps me to firstly see what I have; share my findings and images with others; and begin to see patterns, groups of images and interesting details that I might have missed.
This week was particularly challenging as I had shut my hand (my drawing hand) in a car boot over the weekend. I thought that my work would be compromised but in fact it turned out to be an interesting experiment!
The original plan for the first day had been to fill a sketchbook with drawings and paintings and walk as much of the land as I could. I was inspired by a profile piece on Jason Hicklin from ‘Printmaking Today’ where he had been talking about sketching on location. Drawing is ‘fundamental’ to his etching process and he claims ‘if you haven’t walked you can’t understand how the land is shaped or formed….feeling the land is understanding it’. Having an injured hand made me think that filling an entire sketchbook in one day might be a little ambitious (and painful) but I was keen to at least give it a try. I still had my legs after all and if walking the landscape could help me to understand it a little better, then I’d start with that.
I walked straight over to the Door without taking any pictures or making any drawings. (I actually found this incredibly difficult to do which was surprising). I wanted to begin from a different perspective – to start my drawing journey on that day from ‘the other end’.
I then made my way back to the Cove, stopping to paint and draw from varying points on the beach; taking time to sit and look, making images on the beach, on the steps up to Man of War, on the beach looking up to the cliff face, looking out over to Portland and then at points on the long winding trail back to the Cove.
In the afternoon I spend some time at the Cove, noting down in text what I could see and recording some of the objects and patterns that interested me. I would like to spend a day drawing and painting these in detail and maybe recording some of the shapes of these objects and the natural patterns of the environment.
At 3pm I met Ranger Jim, a wonderfully enthusiastic and lovely man who took me on a beautiful walk up to Dungy Head. Having my own personal guide added a new depth to my experience out on the landscape and it took all I could to try and capture all the amazing things he was describing, explaining and pointing out to me.
The depth of knowledge that the Lulworth Rangers have with regards to the landscape, the biology, flora, fauna, history and wildlife is incredible. As we walked and talked I was able to capture a simple essence of the wildlife (mostly birds!) that and the names of some of the vegetation and rock formations that make up the coastal path. But I think I am going to have to take my notes back into the studio and research these characters in more depth as I don’t think my sketches did the Tor Grass, the Firecrest or the Stinky Iris justice! If the weather stays fair I will take this walk again to Dungy Head and see if I can catch a glimpse of the Oystercatcher or just sit and admire Church Rock.....
but.......it's been horrendous and so for the rest of the week I decided to hide in the studio and work on some drawings taken from my sketchbook. It's bit of a cop out I know but hey, I’m sure there will be another rainy day for me to spend out on the rocks!
I began my residency not knowing what to expect. Yes I'd had conversations with Caroline, Head of Marketing, whose enthusiasm and appreciation for the project filled me with confidence, but at the same time not knowing or having a specific outcome was unnerving.
I had proposed that my time at Lulworth would be spent engaging with the location and the environment through making; using drawing as a way of seeing how people connect with the environment, the elements and the beauty of the landscape. A project based in research can, in theory be open ended as questions, interests and subject matter are discovered and then interrogated. As it happens Point of View turned out to be a terrifyingly large, open ended task and I quickly decided that a smaller focus needed to be sought.
The walked mile between Lulworth Cove and Durdle door was the stretch of landscape that intrigued me most and so I hoped that through engaging with those who visit and work along that part of the Jurassic coast, I would be able to offer a new perspective, a counterpoint to stretch or exercise the imagination, and collate a vast amount of information in an imaginative and responsive way.
The following posts are excerpts from my notes of my first experiences in residence. Week one first, obviously...
I began my residency with a tour of the estate which included the Lulworth Castle, Lulworth Cove, the Visitors Centre, the Boat Shed Cafe, and a long climb over to Durdle Door. The weather was cold but clear enough for me to get a amazing first impression of the place I was going to come to know very well over the next few weeks.
One of the first things I noticed was that Lulworth is made up of a range of different and disparate pieces, albeit incredibly vast and beautiful. I also discovered that it is very difficult to put into words how one feels when you see this incredible stretch of landscape for the first time. I’d obviously seen images online and in print, and recalled visiting here in my youth but I truly wasn’t prepared for the impact it would have on me. In order to focus my experience I decided to limit my note taking to making quick sketches and taping audio.
Most of my research over the 3 days this week consisted of drawings and note taking. I decided to combine methods of working: to keep a journal of my day to day experiences alongside making larger paintings and drawings in other sketchbooks. The hope being that the sketches would be useful back in the print room and the studio and help to inform making when not on location.
I walked the mile from the Cove to the Door a couple more times during this week in order to reflect, spend more time at various locations and to take notes. Apart from sending an afternoon within the Castle making detailed sketches of the interiors and learning about it's history, I spent most of this week outside.
I relished the fact that I was in the open, among the elements, the wind was incredibly cold and by the end of the week I was hampering for a hot bath and another pair of warm gloves!
During April and May this year I was lucky enough to be accepted by Lulworth Estate as their in resident illustrator, using drawing as a research tool to investigate Point of View – how I and others see and connect with the landscape.
For the whole of April and the beginning of May I made Lulworth Cove, Durdle Door and the space between my second home, visiting up to three times a week and immersing myself in the landscape, battling the elements (yes it did rain and there was lots of wind) and filling sketchbooks with observational drawings, talking to people and discovering the personalities of the place.
After a brief hiatus to complete other project work, I am returning to Lulworth to pull together a drawing walk and complete a series of illustrations that reflect the shapes and textures of the landscape, and helps to connect the place, imagination and the emotions of those who visit.
My blog posts will be - albeit edited - a catch-up of the weeks leading to this point and then commentary on my current working practices and reflection up to the project end in September.
The project so far has been a journey of discovery through drawing and I don't want it to end!!