''Chapter 3 Placing Nostalgia: The Process of Returning and Remaking Home By Allison Hui
In Tonya K. Davidson, Ondine Park and Rob Shields (eds.) (2011) Ecologies of Affect: placing nostalgia, desire, and hope (pp. 65-84). Waterloo: Wilfred Laurier University Press
This study looks at the relationship nostalgia has with place and time. It looks at the very particular way nostalgia is experienced by expatriates who move away from home and then return. A methodology used is a survey of their travel diaries. The study identifies three components to the generation of nostalgia. It describes a material house/ space, how this becomes a virtual home (when the subject travels away), and finally, it examines the act of 're-placing', when the subject returns. Re-placing means becoming reaquainted with the materiality of the place and adjusting this relationship with the nostalgic memory. Hui suggests that nostalgia is created and nurtured when this space between what is real and what is remembered is experienced.
A second method is to use ‘Linked’, an art installation, as a case study to investigate how place, space the real and the virtual, come together. This examines how nostalgic loss is felt both by those who have been displaced, and also by those who have never visited the site before.
Hui does clearly point to alternative definitions of space and place by other authors, and so reveals the personal perspective of her theory.
This is a key text for the development of my project, dealing as it does with the evolution of virtual place, nostalgia and memory.
Anne Howeson, Kings Cross Railway shed, 2015
Exhibition: Present and the Past: Renovation and revival in Kings Cross Central. 40 Cross Street, Islington. 16th September-1st October 2015.
Kings Cross/ St Pancreas was the biggest area of urban regeneration in Europe when Anne Howeson was commissioned to make a series of drawings commenting on the changes.
To illustrate the history and the passing of time, Anne used archival prints of the area, which came from The Foundling Museum, The London Metropolitan archives and the Museum of London. She incorporated them into her work by manipulating their content through drawing and erasure. They became palimpsests, which explore memory, fiction and documentary (Howeson 2015)
In an interview which she gave to the online Design show, ‘Section D’, she discussed why and how she made the work.
Anne has always explored the idea of place in her work, and as a local to Kings Cross, wanted to record some of the transition in the area. She was invited to use the archival prints following an exhibition at the Guardian.
She began each drawing with the print as a starting point, and explained how this was like having a conversation with the artist. The work has a strong narrative, and as she rubbed out and added her own interpretation, she imagined what could have been there. She mentions passages in Dickens, where he describes dust heaps, and so she draws these in. It’s unclear what is fact and what is fiction. She talks about the work being a palimpsest, not only of physical layering, but in a historical sense. She also talks about "strange repeated moments" (Section D 2015), and compares the outrage at the opening of a new line in 1850, to the Crossrail protests today.
Cath Donaldson,Westoe Colliery, work in progress, October 2016, digital and conte/ charcoal.
In my project research, I have been looking at the depiction and recollection of place, in memory and history. I began with my childhood homes, and earliest recollections of South Shields where I lived until I was three. A central memory is one of the smells of coal and of the sea. The coal mine closed in 1993.
To try and illustrate this I experimented with drawing and google maps, drawing a blackened coalmine, collaged with the mock Georgian, mass-designed housing estate that has been built on the site. To suggest the industrial, vital nature of the mine, I used aggressive mark making and tonal contrast. By comparison, there is a uniform blandness to the new build. This is a very early experiment, and the only visually pleasing part of the image is the foreground, however I do think the idea has potential for development.
ANNE HOWESON (2015) Imagining Kings Cross solo show [online] Available at http://www.annehoweson.com/current-work/ [accessed October 20th 2016]
SECTION D (10/02/2015) From South Korea to Kings Cross [online] Available at https://monocle.com/radio/shows/section-d/174/ [accessed October 20th 2016]
Howeson interview from 18.58-28-33 minutes
Oliver Jeffers: Oil dipped portrait 2012
BARWICK, T. (2015)’She’s lost control.’ Varoomlab [online] (3)pp.47-55
Available at: http://theaoi.com/varoom-mag/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/VaroomLab-Journal-Issue-3-Interpretation.pdf (Accessed: 18 October 2016)
She’s lost control
This paper explores the concept of the ‘glitch', and compares digital glitches to mistakes made with traditional tools and methods. It examines how error and chance play a part in the development of a personal visual language, no matter how the images are made. It is a study of Barwicks’ own illustration practice and his methods of choosing materials that give maximum chance of unpredictability. The study also lists other illustrators who work in a similar fashion, with a closer look at the practices of Oliver Jeffers and Ralph Steadman.
Forced mistakes and unpredictable outcomes, are the result of control being taken away from the maker (whether by a mathematical programme, or a material process). Successful outcomes also rely on the skill and virtuosity of the creator, and the ability to judge and exploit errors.
This idea is extended to other creative fields, and likens an illustrator to a footballer or musician. All play within a set of rules, but play in an intuitive, skillful way to produce a new and exciting experience.
This study is relevant to my own practice, which explores chance and error through the use of traditional drawing materials. The extension of this approach, using digital technology is something that I will be exploring in the future.
See previous blog post, (16/10/16) ‘The last two months’.
'What am I doing in my work? that's has been a tough question these last months, given that the reason for the MA is to explore new visual languages and ways of working.
This summer I have spent drawing, that is how I make images for the most part. I don't often work digitally, preferring the tactile pull of chalk/ pencil on paper. I am aware of the limitations of my 'usual' medium - pastel, chalk, pencil; you have to work big, it's tricky to scan, it smudges easily, but it is good for 'on the spot' drawing.
Recently, and in preparation for the MA, I started using other mediums, a Wacom tablet, coloured pencil, collage, in a bid to extend my visual language and to better describe my intentions.
Movement, controlled accidents, and layering are typical of the way I have been drawing. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, I draw a lot in my sketchbook. The pencil line is searching (not always 'correct'), but it does wander over the subject, and tries to express form and emotion or character. This quality, gives a truth and immediacy to the drawing, and it's a quality which I try and capture in my illustrations.
This doesn't feel like an aquired 'style', because it's come from a lot of observational drawing. It is more a shorthand visual language that has developed as a way of working over a long period of time. Louis Netter, a reportage artist who is currently studying for a PhD/MPhil at the Royal College has written about his illlustration practicehas said that "drawing from life is a process of invention and modification of drawn marks that collectively imbue the work with an individual voice" (Netter, L. 2014). Some of my work, particularly the buildings, start with a chaos of marks, or an underpainting of colour which has an engineered randomness.
I'll then pull together detail, and emphasise some of the accidents. It is a technique that works well with the medium.
My first degree was in Graphic Design, and my tutor was Terry Dowling. Varoom claimed him as a founding father of radical contemporary illustration (Shaughnessy, A.(2007),'Abusing the Process', Varoom (5) pp 72-85. He introduced me to illustrators like Sue Coe, Anne Howeson, Chloe Cheese, and animators the Quay brothers (who came and taught a bit of animation). George Grosz was another influence.
NETTER, L. (2014) Drawing and Visualisation research: Brief notes on reportage drawing, visual language and the creative agenda of the artist.[online].
Available at: http://eprints.port.ac.uk/19890/1/Louis_Netter_TRACEY_Journal_DIS_2014.pdf (Accessed: 16 October 2016).
Shaughnessy, A.(2007), 'Abusing the process' Varoom, 5 pp72-85
For this project, I am investigating the idea of ‘place’. To help clarify ideas, it seemed obvious to begin by drawing the place I’m in, and through these drawings, investigate some of the different kinds of ‘places’ that exist. If the end product is an illustration, then it makes sense to think through drawing.
I decided to begin this way after reading Rachel Gannon’s paper ‘Being there, conversational drawing in a non-place” (Gannon, 2013, pp. 68-77)
The ‘Non-place’ project began as a month long residency at Luton Airport in August 1995. The brief was to record and document the space, travellers and staff as they went about their business, and to end with an exhibition at the airport.
The drawings came from an initial interest in documentary, but during the process, the focus became one of the experience of drawing, and the experience of ‘drawing as thinking, not thought’ (Gannon 2013,p.69).
She uses the dictionary definition of ‘drawn’, being drawn into a conversation, as a description of the way she works,
‘not a conversation with someone I know but with a stranger. Someone I am struggling to get to know, searching for common ground (Gannon 2013,p.72).
I visit the local shopping Mall to make some drawings. It’s a good example of a non-place (Auge, 1995), and is full of people passing through, passing time, and waiting. Also, like the airport, Photography is forbidden (also so is drawing, but I find that out later).
Drawing from life, gives a first hand account of the place. It is time based, so I’m recording 5 seconds -5 minutes in the lives of other people. Most of them are waiting for about the same length of time. Rachel refers to Berger’s idea that ‘photography stops time, whilst drawing encompasses it’. Drawings that take longer than the moment witnessed, are more a product of memory. (Gannon 2013,p.73). I only draw while they are in front of me.
I prefer to draw from life. Photographic reference is often necessary when making an illustration, but if it’s possible I’ll always to try to collect reference for drawings from observation. It is easier to filter out unnecessary information, and to select at that point what the emphasis is going to be. I can take what I need and supplement later with a photo. I am also making notes for my blog so my written recording is simultaneous with the visual.
I began as an observer, not in their ‘place’. However, once, eye contact and occasionally, conversation has begun, my relationship changes with them and their place.
Have I broken my own 4th wall? I am aware that I don’t want to change the relationship of observer and observed and that this affects whom I choose as subject. For example, singles and couples are usually absorbed in themselves and each other, whereas someone in a larger group will often disengage and also become an observer (and watch me).
Perhaps this is what Rachel means when she writes about Fabians ‘denial of coevalness’ (Gannon, 2013 p73). His notion is that in the field of anthropology, there is a contradiction between people viewed as contemporaries and in dialogue, and those that are seen as ‘other’ and separate – and not inhabiting the same time and space as the observer.
To try and understand this (and test myself), I drew a lot closer than I normally would and stood in clear view.
All but two subjects were aware I was drawing them, three smiled (two at me, one to themselves, one got annoyed I think) and the rest ignored me. They all carried on as if I wasn’t there, and didn’t appear to modify their behaviour in any way.
My conclusion is that there are two ways to approach on site drawing. Eiither dive in, become involved and be part of the event, or be a detached observer, collecting information. If I have permission to draw, then the first approach will yield the most information, but it needs more courage.
Gannon, R. (2013) ‘Being there: Conversational drawing in a non-place’, VAroomLab, (2).
Auge, M. translated by John Howe (1995),’Non-places: Introduction to an anthropology of Supermodernity’, Verso, London New York
Scary girl, a graphic novel by Nathan Jurevicius
Illustrated Worlds: A paper presented by Richard Levesley and Mark Bosward, as part of the Varoomlab symposium ‘Spatialising Illustration’ at Swansea Metropolitan University, Jan 2013.
The intended audiences are students, practitioners, researchers and academics.
'Illustrated Worlds' examines how illustrators develop and realize their own authorial voice through the creation of personal worlds, and how the development of this individual visual language contributes to education, to the illustration profession and to commercial success.
The authors wrote this in the context of their own practices, both as educators and illustrators and conducted primary research through emailed interviews with a range of professional illustrators. Research also looks at case studies; Graham Rawles ‘Lost Consonents”, Graham Carters multidisciplinary work, and Scary Girl by Nathan Jurevicius.
It is a useful study in that it clarifies how an illustrator uses a personal set of ‘rules’, coupled with symbols and signifiers that resonate with the audience, and which are from real experience, and how these give authority and credibility to an imagined world.
From an educational point of view, the idea that self initiated work and commissioned work can have a close and symbiotic relationship, is a positive message, and one which could encourage students to take more risks with their work.
It also suggests that this approach engenders greater multi platform and cross-disciplinary opportunities (i.e. animation, interactive media and toys).
The interview evidence supports the claim that many art directors do want to buy into an illustrators personal world. However, the study doesn’t fully examine the limitations (if any) that this could bring – typecasting and a narrowing of opportunity for example.
Bosward, M. and Levesley, R. (2016) '"Illustrated worlds," VaroomLab, (2), pp.91- 105
Character toy from Scary Girl by Nathan Jurevicius