On a warm July morning, twenty one musicians descended on Harlaxton manor for five days of flute playing and composing at the annual rarescale summer school. An eclectic bunch, the flautists ranged from talented amateurs to music college graduates embarking on performing careers, and the composition group consisted of undergraduate music students and early career composers.
I have this conversation with students time after time about how a practitioner can explore what they perceive to be drawing. It can be a really interesting or frustrating chat – I genuinely do love to hear what others see drawing as, and what they themselves do in response to that word. Some like to really explore and experiment, whereas others just want to perfect a certain technique, or maybe don’t feel they want to or can push those boundaries. For me, drawing is a translation, from one view to another.
You may be familiar with the idea of writing a first draft of an essay, and then editing it down to get to the final version? In my view, to edit a body of work is something that needs to be done continuously and not done just at the end, through reflecting on what ideas/techniques are working and what isn’t and making the decision to either take them forwards or ‘edit’ them out and leave them behind. Editing your work ensures that ideas are always pushed forwards and projects aren’t left to become stagnant and uninspire.
“I think piece titles are very important! A piece should drape naturally from its title, in the same way a coat hangs off a peg. I often find the music suggests a title, which certainly happened in Summer Anthem, with the title drawing upon the generic association of dance music with the summer season and of this genre with club ‘anthems’, this term often indicating a big hook.”
The book that really captured my imagination as a child was The Lost World, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It mentions black spaces on maps – imagine! There actually was a time when the word Unexplored was commonplace, and Conan Doyle’s book was the adventure story of my dreams. I did think the premise extremely unlikely – a sheer-sided plateau, isolated, unexplored, full of prehistoric creatures? And then I went to Venezuela.
At the recent assessment a large drawing caught the eye of the assessment team and I wanted to single out this piece as an example of what can happen when a student follows the logic of their research. I was lucky enough to be Gwenyth’s tutor for Drawing One and during a Google Hangout session for the third submission it was clear that one subject — a large rock near her home in Sweden — meant a lot to her.
Beginning my first Level Two course last year, I had confidence I would be just fine; happily settled after receiving a pleasing result at assessment for my previous course at Level One. I flew through L2 Developing Creative Textiles, sure I knew what my path and career specialisation would be. As far as I was concerned, I had developed my “style”… All I had to do was repeat it.
A stark shock came at assessment, when I got a much lower mark than expected. Why? I questioned; with my confidence in tatters.