I’ve been working recently on a commission for a collective of artists, educators and makers and their collaborative project, ‘Sketchbook Circle’. Sketchbook Circle is a creative venture founded seven years ago by artist/educators Elinor Brass and Tanya Paget. Looking for a way to progress their own practices alongside their work in education, they set up a community of like-minded individuals seeking to do the same. The sketchbook is used as a vehicle for this collaboration, as each member is partnered with two people within the circle and a dialogue is established, as each person works on their own book and then mails it to their two partners, who will then continue to work on the same book in response. This will continue, back and forth, over the course of the year. Since its inception, the circle has continued to grow, nationally and internationally and Elinor along with my wife, Georgia Naish have continued to recruit new members and expand the ranks of artist/educators and explore new ideas for collaboration and creative dialogue.
The organisers wanted to introduce a limited edition print by different artists into their annual welcome pack and I was asked to come up with an idea for the first mailout, due to be sent out next week.
In thinking about ideas for the piece, I wanted to come up with an image that represented the themes of collaboration, expression and creativity and around the central concept of the circle. I did some initial drawings from a small life drawing mannequin that my 10 year old son keeps in his room. The model seemed like a strong starting point and a nod to Sketchbook Circle’s emphasis on the importance of drawing (and their ongoing partnership with ‘The Big Draw’), as well as a metaphor for creativity in general. After playing around with a number of ideas, the drawings of the model in a variety of poses put me in mind of Matisse’s painting ‘The Dance’, wherein the circle is central to the composition.
I took a number of photographs of the maquette based upon the poses of the figures in Matisse’s painting. Having sketched and inked them as line drawings, I overlayed the image onto a drawing of another circlular motif - a garland of flowers weaving its way through the dancing dolls. As this was to be printed as a risograph print, (a machine printing method that allows for the layering of images, similar in principle to screen printing), I overlayed the central image onto some text. As artists working in education, the slogan 'Make Time for Making’, is one of Sketchbook Circle’s central tenets, as well as a creative call-to-arms to all their members.
Thanks as always to Jake at Fred Aldous Ltd. in Manchester, for printing these in time for the forthcoming mailout. For more information about the Sketchbook Circle, visit: www.sketchbookcircle.com