Notes from the Studio

Notes from the Studio by Claire Mander

Cover of Exh. cat., Serial/Portable Classic: The Greek Canon and Its Mutation, Fondazione Prada, Milan, 2015

Cover of Exh. cat., Serial/Portable Classic: The Greek Canon and Its Mutation, Fondazione Prada, Milan, 2015

An air of seriousness and enquiring quietness encompass the studio.  It is filled with materials: plastic sheets, a smoke machine, water, boards of frigolite, large paper cut outs of body shapes.

Hanna, sitting by the table with a book in her hand, looks at me with a secretive smile - as a magician about to reveal something extraordinary. The book she is perusing is about classicism, or more precisely, Greek sculpture.

A gestural cut out

A gestural cut out

"Did you know that Chiswick House once received a bequest of one of these sculptural bodies?", she says pointing at a very perfectly shaped Greek sculpture in the book, noticeably with missing arms.  She explains that copy after copy of the original sculptures were made by the Greeks and then the Romans, each society reflecting the ideals of its era in the human forms. Hanna speaks about her interest in Classicism and how she wants to know more about  this 'everywhere-underlying' element in western culture.

"We all think we know something about classicism", she says, "but in fact we know very little. Many of these sculptures, including the ones in Chiswick House, have lost limbs because of refurbishments, moving, wars, or other unfortunate accidents.”

What are the missing limbs? Their gestures and meanings of the missing limbs intrigue Hanna... and me.

She explains that she is not intending to make yet another copy of the sculptures that were housed at Chiswick House. But she will with use materials that can float, be transparent, and move, reflect what was once there ... like with a whisper from the past the artist or, as I feel tempted to call her, 'magician' gets to work...

Respectfully and with the serious approach of a Nordic Artist she will let us wander around the Ionic Temple at Chiswick House and its beauteous grounds, letting the whispers of the past meet the present, and bring us into yet new wonders and questions of the wonderfully ghostly magical uncertainties of the future and its forever changing ideals.

 Let us all be quiet, so that we can hear our thoughts and give space to these enchanting whispers.

By Nina Wisnia

Notes from the Studio by Claire Mander

William Mackrell in the Sculpture Shock Studio, photo by A K Purkiss

William Mackrell in the Sculpture Shock Studio, photo by A K Purkiss

Why are certain subjects harder to describe in words than others?

William Mackrell in the Sculpture Shock Studio, photo by A K Purkiss

William Mackrell in the Sculpture Shock Studio, photo by A K Purkiss

Why is it that it has taken me weeks to try to find the right words to describe William Mackrell’s art practice for the Sculpture Shock Abulatory award.

A white sheet full of expectations.

While it’s fresh and clear in my brain-the words just make me stumble.

So here I am stumbling, struggling with too much effort, trying to grasp the right: Language.

Language can hinder us, make us be misunderstood, embarrassed.

William Mackrell in the Sculpture Shock Studio, photo by A K Purkiss

William Mackrell in the Sculpture Shock Studio, photo by A K Purkiss

Despite its constructive beauty, the written or spoken language can appear superficial and false. The bridge between thoughts and words is a conscious mental practise that shuns honest expressions. I often think that the core of our intentional message remains in some sort of obscurity behind the spoken and written word.

"drawing is the more primitive important language to the human race than the written word and should be taught to every child in the same way as the written word..." John Ruskin

William often uses drawing in his work. Its his text, his language.

It is honest clear and exciting. Its often used as an imprint of a certain recorded time.

William Mackrell in the Sculpture Shock Studio, photo by A K Purkiss

William Mackrell in the Sculpture Shock Studio, photo by A K Purkiss

William is not just using the hand and the pen as drawing tools, he uses his whole body.

William recently performed 'tongue drawings' to express his thoughts in the studio.

He lets the experience, the act he performs, resonate through his body and leave marks on the paper. This is his text, his language.

And even if he would occasionally use words, the words themselves becomes a drawn line of action in space.

As the audience, we can all feel the messages William conveys by looking at him. And we will understand the marks. There is no embarrassment or misunderstanding. William's drawings unfold a depth in ourselves - a common collective comprehension of our human bodies, senses, and functions.

As much as I try and would like to explain the complex thoughts that come up in my mind in words after visiting William, I believe we have to experience the performance ourselves to read its full meaning.

William's Ambulatory piece of work for Sculpture shock will take place in a bus. He will draw the experience of an every day bus journey, his body movements following the movements of the bus, creating a drawing with pen on paper.

Along with him, singers will with their own vocal medium draw their own lines in space.

So lets take a seat, and enjoy an everyday journey on a bus with William who will bring us to the higher levels of our human capacities.

Two pieces of advice before the trip:

1. Don’t buckle up. There are no seat or security belts to fasten in the bus (Williams work will never be secured!)

2. And do NOT leave any personal belongings on the bus. (Let us not leave the bus and forget our experiences. Let us remember, learn from them as a new personal belonging that is ready to use and be explored)

By Nina Wisnia