Sunday, 25 September 2011

more drawing

On the quest for the perfect drawing again!! This time I spent three days with Scottish Dance Theatre and tried to capture moments from their class with Sean Feldman. I was mesmerised by his class material and the resulting movement from this wondeful company!What was particularily brilliant about Seans class was the material he used. It was especially suited to what I am searching for in my dance preparation for my film. Spirals and loops...constantly moving...and emotionally very moving to watch. I am hoping he will be back again soon.

This was an intense experience for me and it was interesting to note how I was observing and dancing inside at the same time....what difference does it make that I have dance experience? does that make me more able to capture movement? Do my drawings have more movement in them? My superviser, Sharon White is looking at the ways in which animators can become better at capturing movement in their drawing and it has been great to discuss this with her. I certainly have noticed my awareness of the muscles etc as I do observational drawing. This kinaesthetic awareness( root 'cenaesthesia'...from the Greek words koinos meaning common and aisthesis meaning sensuous perception ) is very vital for me as a choreographer, although there are non dancers who have made dance work, and I feel it helps me enormously in my drawing....Day one was drawing missing bits ..going back next time to alter..and looking at the drawings at the end of an 80 minute session let me see what I had found. I am very critical of my own work, I seem to be constantly seeking the perfect drawing!!

Some have a real sense of the one on the left above...I found I wanted to focus mainly on one or two dancers who seemed to be inspiring me. I will watch the next performance with a new eye....I wonder if the same dancers will be my focus!!

I began to try to use the minimum of line to capture the moves....The feedback from the dancers themselves was brilliant. They saw themselves and also felt there was a real sense of movement in my work.

dear norman

At the Macrobert I asked people to respond to the day by writing a letter to Norman,describing what the arts centre meant for them. I talked about the fact there was no arts facility like this when Norman was young. Apart from his art classes at school he had no facility for artistic pursuit or workshops such as those available in the Macrobert on a weekly basis.What differences might it have made? Some of the letters which people that day wrote to Norman are great reading!! I suppose in terms of my film work I am searching for ways to bring thoughts and feelings onto paper and from there into dance ideas which will lead to my film. If I ask myself how this relates to my own practice I would answer that I have had to examine Norman in new ways and was curious to know how others might re -examine him. Many people I spoke to at the event had never heard of Norman McLaren before. Some were aware of his name and had come to see the 4D production a few years ago but had not really looked into his work in detail. A few had, and some loved his work. Most said they would go off to find out more!
On the day of the event Norman's drawing 'Stress' was exhibited along with the curated exhibition '40 years of Macrobert'. I had to write about this. What I said then was that the drawing seen below was inspired by the animation process.( the 2D animation process involves making hundreds or thousands of drawings). McLaren layered line after line , each a little different, in the way you would make a series of drawings for animation. Those lines..all piled up on top of each other ...go to make his 'Stress' drawing.

I also stated that my feelings about the Macrobert centre were that it also provided a number of layers ...of artistic process and experience ....for the people who interact with it. Each activity contained within the arts centre but each different...all making up the whole that is Macrobert Arts.

dancers interpret hen hop

...getting ready to perform..with hen hop playing in the film house!

I spent some time looking at hen hop and trying to find some way of suggesting hens in an understated costume. Colour was a good start...feathers obvious but to use them the end I opted for just a hint of feather on the leg and tissue paper as the plumes..this had the benefit of being able to be crushed..knocked and it stayed put! A good move as there were so many people watching it was impossible for the dancers to avoid everyone..I love the texture of feathers as did everyone else. Children wanted to look close up!!

 One of the additional aims was to bring Norman McLaren to the attention of the general public in a new way. I printed out a series of 'facts' about him on silver paper and hid them among a basket of feathers...inspired by the treasure hunt..reminiscent of his letter of thanks to grant munroe in the form of a treasure hunt downstairs to the kitchen....where Mclaren had left behind a spotless sink and clean dishes..a big thank you.
The audience were invited to hunt among the feathers for a treasured fact!! this led to many great exchanges on who McLaren was and what relevance he had to Stirling

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Macrobert event

17th September Macrobert Arts Centre was 40 years old. My placement at the University of Stirling Archive gave me the idea of staging an event with dance to raise awareness of Norman McLaren ahead of his centenary in 2014. As it happened I was able to tie in with the 40th birthday celebrations to do just that. The Norman McLaren filmhouse was showing  a variety of  material during the day and after discussion with the artistic director, we agreed to also show McLaren's Hen Hop. Three dancers and a fiddler were at the door of the filmhouse to lead the audience out into the foyer. There the dancers interpreted the hen character with a slightly more Scottish version of fiddle music than the Canadian Barn dance music in the film. The dance led people to the exhibition area where we had hung a giant version of the McLaren skull picture. McLaren had an x ray taken after a series of headaches, and felt this the ideal place to make a self portrait. He asked the consultant for a copy and then drew little pictures of the working of his brain!! The hen features there too. The exhibition of 40 years of the Macrobert was curated by Brian Hartley. In collaboration with him I also added a written piece linking McLaren with Arts in Stirling, alongside 'Stress' a drawing by McLaren from the special collection..also held in Stirling. During the dance I walked among the audience, sitting at tables and standing, and offered them a hen 'feather' from my basket. These were hand made curls of paper on which were written various facts and quotes about McLaren. I then engaged them in conversation about McLaren, Macrobert, the arts and what having access to these facilities means for artists and future artists. Finally I invited them to write a letter to Norman about their thoughts from the days event, and what Macrobrt means to them. It was a great day!! images to follow.....