There are a few other things that were important to the drawing a straight line session. One of the most important was the ‘realisation’ moment. We used to keep a couple of long ‘straights’ at the back of the studio; these might be a 6 feet long piece of 2” x 2” timber or a sweeping brush handle. At some point during a drawing session we would pick one of these up and holding one above our heads horizontally, would stand behind individual students and slowly lower this horizontal down, so that it came down into their space from a point approximately one or two feet above their eyes. The student would be asked to keep their attention on peripheral vision and tell us the exact moment they became aware of the ‘straight’ coming into view. We would then raise and lower the ‘straight’ into this field of vision, and usually, because there were no anchor points with which to benchmark the object’s form, and the fact that the straight was coming into the field of vision from an unexpected position, the students would suddenly ‘see’ the straight as a curve. This would lead to long discussions as to how and why the brain might override what was actually seen because of a conceptual framework based on right-angles.
Students would then bring up the fact that this was simply curved perspective and we would try and illustrate the difference by getting them to image how the perceptual struggle of Cezanne could be understood within a perceptually spherical context.
The problem with perspective being that it relied on the predictive geometry of mathematical precision, but perception was something made of millions of frozen moments aggregating together to form a composite.
Students would by the end of this session be ready to undertake ‘giron’ and ‘fesspoint’ drawing. (See post Giron and Fess-point Drawing 26/09/12)
Terry Hammill pointed out that the morning drawing session whereby we asked students to look down at themselves and draw everything they see, was one of the things he came up with. (See end of post 11/03/13) He also reminded me that many of the morning drawing sessions were invented in a spirit of play and that their meaning was something that wasn’t that important at the time. Perhaps because I was still young and wanting to know myself why, I tended to put too much weight on why I thought we were doing things. But I was very excited by everything then and believed that it was a terrific adventure. Patrick used to say that I was an interpreter and perhaps he was right, but without good interpreters languages become lost and incomprehensible, so I shall continue with my interpretations.
I saw Terry and George Hainsworth at a dinner yesterday afternoon that was part of a celebration of the work of Tom Hudson and the Leicester Group. There is an exhibition of the Leicester Group work in the Garden Gallery at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and a related presentation in the National Art Education Archive there. The exhibition focuses on the radical interaction of art and education in the 1960s, Tom’s son Mark had invited me along when I met him at the Basic Design presentation at Tate Briton a couple of weeks ago. The dinner was a clear illustration of how small the art world is, lots of connections were embodied and I could at last put some faces to names. At our table for dinner were, George, Terry and myself, with Doug Sandle and his brother Michael who besides being a world renowned sculptor had been a member of the Leicester Group, Susan Tebby who had been Mary and Kenneth Martin’s technician (interestingly she is writing a history of Goldsmiths and Terry was a student there in the early 1960s), Terry Setch the painter, another member of the Leicester Group, who I had met with Tom Gilhespy in Cardiff in 1969 when I was a student at Newport and who I have admired as a painter for years and his wife who unfortunately was directly opposite and I didn’t get to see her name card.
The 1960s Leicester Group was a spinoff from Leeds in the 1950s; Harry Thubron and Tom Hudson moving to Leicester from Leeds and bringing in people like Michael Chilton, Victor Newsome and Laurie Burt. Victor Newsome wasn’t there but several of his pieces are in the exhibition. I knew his work well from those long past years of going round to Patrick’s house. He had a large Newsome over the fireplace, (two volcanoes in hessian) and at least one unfinished fibre-glass piece in the cellar. At some point I might start looking at all the connections, but not yet.