David by Russell
I've squandered too much precious time recently following the debate resulting from the screening of Channel Four's 'documentary', Benefit's Street. The why's and wherefores, the ins and outs and the rights and wrongs of this programme have been well rehearsed and although my views are probably pretty obvious, I will spare you the tedium of a red faced rant from me. What I found interesting and what makes it relevant in this context, is the notion of how 'facts' are processed into 'truth' Why the inverted comma's I hear you say. Well facts are in themselves subjective depending on who is choosing and presenting them and of course the whole notion of truth is as slippery as a well greased pig. The basic premise behind the objections to 'Benefit's Street' is that the editing has been skewed to present an extreme form of poverty voyeurism dressed up as social concern. This claim amounts to one side disagreeing with the choices made by the other side and the force and certainty with which those choices were presented.
Now we come to art. Put simply, isn't the process we indulge in exactly the same. We garner 'facts', we make choices and we decide which of those facts should be presented in what order of priority. Some of us will decide that structure is what it's about whilst others will zoom in on colour and composition. It never fails to surprise and delight me how one subject can generate so many diverse opinions and approaches. I think of it as a number of witnesses at the scene of a crime all telling their stories, some attempting clinical accuracy others bound up with emotion, others distracted and wayward, but all attempting to say the same thing, | was there and it was like this officer........!
David our new and splendid model, was well toned and muscular with the face of a mischievous elf in repose. Russell, never slow to grasp a visual opportunity for wit and play, seized on this almost immediately, he was already the most unreliable of witnesses as the story was too good to become grounded in so called facts. The ear gently morphed into a puck like pointiness, the lips became pursed with a smidge of lippy, the whitened pallor contrasting nicely with the smoky and hooded vampiric eyes. Very Twilight, very goth but then the whole ensemble was softened by a Shakespearean cluster of leaves and flowers perched ever so gently on David's sculpted head. In the past I have also been a fellow fantasist, bored by the tedium of reality, I have inflicted horns onto one person and numerous wings onto others. I think there is something lovely when the subconscious world melts into the conscious world and reality becomes a vehicle for play, a casket from which new and rich stories emerge. In my view dreamers decorate our lives, they always tell the best stories and make the best friends except when in the witness box or editing so called documentaries about poor people than they need a slug of reality and their ears boxed! (Phew, the rant was nearly upon me...).
Suman , a new and welcome visitor made a lovely small drawing not unlike Steven's, however, although similar she embraced the white chalk for highlights method, whereas Steven an old school ascetic would rather walk barefoot to Leeds and back than introduce the dreaded white crayon. Roger was once similarly inclined with purist tendencies but he's strayed and now uses all kinds of demonic crayons and colour combinations, picking coloured papers with all the restraint of a drunken sailor on a twelve hour binge in Bangkok. Needless to say, it plays havoc with my photo processing, we're at the outer reaches of Photoshop but I don't complain. Sandra similarly seems to have become a devotee of the white highlight whilst Sue D-Y, appears to have discarded all pretense and decided there is just one bit of her drawing she just has to get right. Well all I can say Sue, is for heaven's sake leave it alone, you'll wear it out. Catherine has donned her stylish stained glass window specs, no doubt prescribed for winter sadness. Personally I feel happier just looking at the result. Dick seems to have found a new robustness and confidence in his work which bodes well for future developments. Ben and Ivan are competing for the accolade of sharpest pencil with lean drawings of incisive clarity, not an ounce of fat on either one. I would quite like to Photoshop Patrick's drawing on top of Haydn's as though I were a music producer laying one track over another. Haydn is all structure, like a bass player whilst Patrick is the synth weaving in and out with an elusive delicate melody you can't get out of your head. Tony is the most objective of witnesses and Sue has inaugurated her new sketchbook with a strong side view. All in all a good start to the year and one that shows no evidence of the chill factor resulting from a temperamental heater that has been told to shape up or ship out!
I'm not sure if I'm going to post my work, it seems my testimony will probably be rejected by the court as a tissue of lies, the ravings of rabid fantasist and unreliable evidence. Get well soon Ian, hope to see you back in the Court of Human Sleights very soon.
Paintings and drawings by Ben, Catherine, Dick, Hadyn, Ivan, Patrick, Roger, Russell, Sandra, Steven, Sue D-Y, Sue, Suman and Tony.