Monday, November 14, 2011

Back to the drawing board

Kelly Chorpening  
Camberwell College of Arts, University of the Arts, London

In ‘Back to the drawing board’ I will discuss the role contemporary drawing could have in today’s Middle East through a discussion informed by my own experience as an artist and researcher, and as a lecturer of drawing to artists and non-artists alike.


Since 2006 I have run the BA Drawing course at Camberwell College of Arts. The course sits within the fine art programme of subjects, and as you might expect, involves life drawing, observational perspective and orthographic projection, but also provides forays into the ways disciplines such as dance, choreography, medicine, architecture, history and philosophy use and identify with drawing. Drawing does not belong to art— it’s a fundamentally human act— so its exemption from the struggle more archetypal subjects such as painting have with their own histories, enables a distinctly outward-looking approach to creativity. Drawing effectively provides a passport to explore its uses across a range of professions. Skills of analysis are developed as much through the translation of the real world into line, as the questioning of how the stakes of such activities have changed over time.

Back to the Drawing Board

‘Back to the drawing board’ is a phrase used when it’s time to start again. In this lecture I would like to free the drawing board from its associative endgame of failed achievement in order to describe its location at the edges of discipline— one could even describe it as a pre-disciplinary place— in order to celebrate it as a place for innovation, where thoughts and ideas are brought into existence. The drawing board is a set of conditions that enable practitioners from across cultures and professions alike to work together and share ideas.

In this context, the drawing board becomes a destination that enables the speculation of an idea, where the speculation is made valid through the inherent directness, accuracy and precision of the medium. Ideas are given substance, and are able to suggest convincing possibilities without the limiting preoccupation with their use-value. In a time when the primacy of vocational disciplinarity has had a negative impact on innovation, could drawing invigorate, and possibly create new modes of practice?

In fine art, a refreshing characteristic of contemporary drawing exhibitions is how they tend to disrupt art historical categories.

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