In particular I had become interested in the eroding sea defences and the traces of former constructions which had now become for me, signs of the impossibility of holding back nature. These beaches I had realised at the time would be where migrants sailing the seas would eventually be beached up. In my minds eye, these West Wittering views replaced those of refugees being washed up on the beaches of Greece, people arriving on shores occupied by holiday makers, was a particularly distressing image, the conjunction of leisure and tragic loss so hard to reconcile.
I had drawn the sea before, these images above were done using brush and ink, in a moleskin notebook with Japanese folds, I was trying to find a seascape language that worked for me and in particular I became fascinated with two elements; the way that directional clustering of marks helped develop a rhythm across the surface and how organic shapes, such as the ones in the lower drawing, could be used as symbols for waves. In this initial drawing the white lines that surround the sea swell also reminded me of some drawings I had recently done of graffiti.
I needed to develop a graphic way of drawing sea that wa rhythmically disturbed; the sea needed to be an area that the eyes couldn’t settle on; I wanted people to feel queasy when they tried to look at it. The language I developed for the sea, eventually became a fusion of the two approaches developed in the Japanese fold notebook, however I eventually dropped the brush in favour of pen and ink.
The different graphic languages for sea became fused, creating an undulating surface, that is also an 'image' of the sea, as well as a set ofmarks that work to develop a flowing or muscular surface rhythm. This was also a place for boats to be tossed about and to be on the one hand beautiful and on the other dangerous.
Two books in particular have helped me think about these things, Bachelard's 'The Poetics of Space', helped me to think about how metaphors are shaped. Nancy's 'The Ground of the Image' attempts to describe how an image arrives, before it has been allocated meaning. The soup ofexistence and the difficulty we all have in deciding whether or not to swim in it or ingest it, is artfully explored by Nancy and his nice distinctions in language allow for the creation of definitions of the image that avoid representation or figuration, the image instead being more akin to the process of realisation or re-imagining.
What drawing allows me to do is to have a visual conversation. By putting thoughts into an image, I can step outside of myself. In effect each image made becomes a new thing to perceive. It is a way of thinking distributed between conception and perception. By working in this way I try and avoid too much thinking, each image made is a visualised idea and therefore becomes part of the journey towards something new, it is found rather than being an illustration of an idea. I will return at some point to this issue, because it is vital. Between illustration and fine art is a fine distinction, one that is to do with control and intention. Both are equally valid in what they do, but they are distinct disciplines.