Drawing on instruction


I led my first workshop at the Courtauld last week leading a collaborative drawing workshop with BTEC students from Bsix college based on an idea around Sol Le Witt’s line drawings. The set up was strange as the students were dropping in and out of my workshop, to photograph the culmination of a larger project that they had started with the gallery four or five months ago. Despite this distraction, they were great, and up for giving my plan a go, but it was one of those times when the activity just wasn’t getting that much traction or to try a different analogy as I’m listening to Marc Maron’s WTF podcast at the moment, I was half way through the set and no-one was laughing.

We had managed to come up with good ideas for wall drawings and judging by the amount of time and effort that they put into drawing with pen on each other’s hands and arms *gritted teeth* their skill levels weren’t too shabby either, but clearly the desire to follow someone else’s instructions was completely lacking, which reveals an essential fact about this type of work.

I really like Sol Le Witt. I like his variations on a form, I like his approach, I like the way he writes about art and understandably I really like the way he draws. I can imagine that the chance to install a Sol Le Witt would be rather exciting, but if the work in question is not Sol, but Bob, then what this group proved is that there needs to be a new bargain between the installer and the artist, for the one to want to produce the other.

This came about when one student wrote this and then left to photograph his work. ( I paraphrase):

  • On a sheet of paper, draw 3 dots in a line
  • Draw 3 dots directly below
  • Draw 3 dots directly below that to form a grid of 3 x 3 dots
  • In four lines, that can be horizontal, vertical or diagonal, and without taking your hand off the page, connect all nine dots.

The attempt to follow these instructions and the inability to do so was the bargain that turned the whole day around.

Let me know if you want a clue 😀