‘In great architectural spaces, there is a constant, deep breathing of shadow and light; shadow inhales and illumination exhales light.’ ¹
Continuing my series of drawings in response to moments of architectural light and shadow from around my home during lockdown, I have been testing installation ideas. The work Drawing Breath comprises acrylic blocks containing both graphite drawings and drawn cut outs on translucent paper that interact with each other when activated by natural light in the space.
For some time now, I have been exploring ways to communicate my response to architectural light and shadow and this new body of work feels like a promising line of enquiry. Like many, the initial shock of lockdown was destabilising. It has been interesting to reflect on how this new, unexpected drawing approach, that evolved from concentrated working with limited resources, has emerged through the restrictions of lockdown.
I am very grateful to Arts Council England for individual emergency funding to help support my work during lockdown. This funding was only made possible thanks to the National Lottery and its players. For details, see www.artscouncil.org.uk.
¹ Pallasmaa, J (2011) The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses
I have been thinking about the idea that buildings breathe (see February 2020) as this feels particularly pertinent in lockdown. Our homes have expanded to the demands of more inhabitants or contracted to shelter one or two. For some, home feels like a refuge, while for others, a restriction.
For me, after a period of contraction, our home is full again and I can feel the fabric of the architecture sighing. Having lived here for 20 years, it feels like our home is as much entwined in our family history as we are, familiar and integral to our rhythms, and I wonder at our home’s ability to recall and re-establish echoes of previous patterns.
With these ideas in mind, I have been working on a series of drawings, building on previous approaches. Inspired by moments of architectural light and shadow, I am exploring mark making and layering to re-examine and re-consider my experience of home at this time.
In line with ideas from the Beningbrough Hall Project, I am working on a series of drawings that considers the words silent and listen during lockdown; two words comprising the same letters. During this time, I am focusing on noticing, documenting (through photographs) and responding (through drawing) to moments of architectural light and shadow from around my home.
For me, drawing is an action of reception and expression, where I open up my responses to the felt experience of the moment. Through quiet, sensory engagement, I listen to what the experience of drawing is revealing to me. Paradoxically, during lockdown it has been more challenging to find moments of quiet and this has exposed how significant this is in my process. It has also, however, demonstrated that the relationship between silent and listen can be considered in our experience of architecture. Quiet moments, often through fleeting moments of light and shadow, when buildings reveal themselves to us and invite us to be still and listen.