Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Drawing of Dave...

graphite & putty eraser/30x20cm

Continuing in retro vein with the sequence of drawings processed from images sourced from the pages of a 1970-vintage football annual (or, more precisely, enlarged photocopies of such originals, thus a little degraded in quality & tonal subtleties).

As distinct from the previous examples to have served as the source images of the drawings, this photograph appears to have been illuminated with a flash rather than bright natural light, lending a slightly different aesthetic & affording the subject the luxury of not having to squint into the camera, thus allowing the eyes to present themselves & be observed more clearly, not retreating into the depths of shadow. Note again the particular ‘photographic’ cropping of the image, focussing intently upon the face.

On this occasion, our portrait subject happens to be one David/Dave Wilson, another of our denizens of the lower divisions, largely unsung outside of their own localities & sometimes even within, then in the midst of a comparatively short sojourn at Walsall (quickly dating the annual) before eventually finding more of an established home at Chesterfield where he played into the mid-1970s before his Football League career came to a close: as ever, in nostalgic mode (for a time beyond consciousness & memory, not least of the individual in question), one muses upon the ephemerality of such matters, & those of fashions for certain flourishes of facial hair, like extensive sideburns, for an obvious example prevalent at the time & as sported here by the subject - not quite Noddy Holder but well on the way.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

(A Moment in) The Life of Brian

graphite & putty eraser/30x20cm

The latest in the series of (now long-former) footballer portraits sourced from the pages of a vintage 1970 annual, the drawing being processed with immediate reference to & thus guided by the surface aesthetic of an enlarged photocopy, somewhat degraded in quality from the original image as it appears in the book, itself obviously a reproduction of an original photographic print, thus furthering the levels of representation involved, with this of course being the on-screen presentation of a scan of the drawing: it’s a long way from the human subject standing before the camera & being photographed onto film sometime during the summer of 1970, & not just temporally.

Another familiar aesthetic aspect of the original photographs, & the reproductions of them in the book, in addition to those already noted (the subject squinting into the light, the sun-bleached, compressed tonal range), & to which the drawing remains faithful, is the particular cropping of the subject’s head, the squeezing of it into the picture frame, trimming away the top of it &/or (at least) the hairstyle, & often the ears/sides too: these are very much ‘mug shots’. Note also the preponderance of rather fine sideburns, in the style of the times.

As, coincidentally, with the previous example, the subject depicted is now deceased, lending a little more poignancy to the general air of nostalgia & ‘hauntology’, the drawing, as ever, a trace of a photographic trace, mediations on the ephemerality of physical phenomena & (states of) ‘being’.

In the now habitual manner of the wider process of such drawings’ making, research into the player’s career has revealed that, during a rather peripatetic course, Brian Lewis spent less than a year at Oxford United & made fewer appearances for them than any of his other clubs, having already moved on probably prior to the occasion when the majority of readers might have received & perused the annual in the gallery pages of which his image featured. Interestingly (at least to a football 'anorak'), it would appear, from the bare statistics, that the most productive phase of Brian Lewis’s career, at least in terms of a goals-to-games ratio, was the season-&-a-half he spent at Luton Town, from which club he joined Oxford & where he played on occasion alongside no less than the recently-drawn Graham French, the legendary subject of the first of this sequence of footballer portraits.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Memories are Made of...

Today the opposite of tomato is an empty bliss beyond this world

graphite & putty eraser/30x20cm

(Re)presenting the third of the footballer portrait drawings processed with immediate reference to photocopies of images sourced from a recently-acquired copy of the 1970 – 71 edition of ‘Charles Buchan’s Soccer Gift Book’, the self-styled ‘world’s greatest soccer annual’.
On this occasion, the subject depicted is one Norman Corner, another old pro hitherto unheard-of, having plied his trade in the lower divisions & nether reaches of the Football League during the period just prior to my developing an interest in the game: nevertheless, the late Norman (who passed away in February of last year, 3 days after his 68th birthday) was clearly fondly regarded by those who saw him in action for Bradford City, for whom he primarily saw service (of a nature, one imagines from the eulogies, that is commonly referred to as ‘yeoman’ in such a context), over the cusp of the Sixties & Seventies, assisting in a successful promotion campaign from the (good) old Fourth Division in 1968-69.
A glance at the bald statistics of Norman Corner’s playing career throws up an intriguing anomaly of sorts: why did he make only 5 appearances for Hull City in the 4 years prior to a stint at Lincoln City that preceded his Bradford days, when he scored 4 goals during the course of them (including, it transpires 2 on his debut)?

Again, the source image displays its particular generic aesthetic, the human subject squinting into the bright sunlight in which the photograph was taken, with the subsequent degraded photocopy bleaching further any tonal subtleties, to which appearance the drawing, as processed, attempts to be guided by & intends to be faithful, bestowing a certain ‘faded’ quality that might suggest an inherent nostalgia: the ‘hauntological’ aspect & implications of such a device might be something to be explored further.


The Caretaker 'An Empty Bliss Beyond This World' & 'Patience (After Sebald)'

A soundtrack inspired by a visit to the cinema to see Grant Gee’s ‘Patience (After Sebald)’, a pottering documentary in the footsteps of WG Sebald’s walking tour of parts of Suffolk that features in the author’s meditative ‘The Rings of Saturn’. Shot in grainy monochrome, the film is accompanied by The Caretaker’s quiet background score based upon samples of music appropriated from Schubert’s ‘Winterreise’ song cycle, short fragments of which are subjected to what might best be described as a sonic ‘scouring’, foregrounding a surface hiss & crackle, then repeated cyclically in the best traditions of minimalism. This looped repetition of a simple motif as (half-)heard through a haze, a fog, of static produces a dreamlike, nostalgic, melancholic state that unassumingly complements the visual aesthetic & mood of the film.
In the manner that Philip French describes, at the close of his review of ‘Patience’, as being inspired to seek out more of the music of the composer after watching the film ‘In Search of Haydn’, so the ‘Patience’ score has led me to explore in greater depth the work of Leyland James Kirby, aka The Caretaker, which I had previously sampled in a couple of small doses, one via inclusion, most appropriately given his prevailing aesthetic, within the contents & course of K-Punk’s ‘Metaphysics of Crackle’, as has soundtracked numerous drawing processes here in the past.
Thus both ‘Patience (After Sebald)’ & its exquisitely-titled predecessor 'An Empty Bliss Beyond This World' have been listened to (& subsequently purchased via download in the interests of ‘essential’ investment) during the drawing of Norman Corner, someone of course no longer of this world but lost to the mists of time & vagaries of memory, informing the process & infusing it with a suitably nostalgic & at times profoundly melancholic air, with An Empty Bliss..’s ghostly echoes of fragments of 1930s ballroom tunes appropriated & manipulated from scratchy old 78rpm records redolent of a time past even further back in memory than the 1970-vintage footballer photographs, creating a most ‘hauntological’ atmosphere indeed.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Steady Progress

Today the opposite of tomato is 'up & down Morgan's Lane'

graphite & putty eraser/30x20cm

A second portrait sourced directly from an enlarged photocopy of an image found in a ‘gallery’ feature in one of the recently-acquired late 60s – early 70s football annuals, the subject of course being the drawing process itself over & above what/whom might result from & come to be depicted, although the name Eddie Colquhoun does have its own significance in inspiring a certain nostalgia from & for the period when I began developing an interest in football, his playing career, with Sheffield United for whom he was indeed a stalwart in the finest traditions, continuing into the first few years of such.

As with the previous example, the original image displays its own particular aesthetic, with an ambiguity of certain detail & a highish-contrast tonal range resulting from the physical circumstances in which the subject was photographed, squinting into strong sunlight, this ultimately informing the drawing processed from the subsequent reduced-quality photocopy.

By another of those occurrences of serendipity, a visit to the theatre to enjoy a rather fine performance of Ibsen’s ‘A Doll’s House’ also afforded the opportunity to peruse an extensive exhibition of the paintings of Alan Salisbury, ‘Revisiting Traditions’, freely appropriating from the history of art in his own idiosyncratic manner across a range of subject-matter & including the football-themed series ‘The Art of Goalkeeping’ & 'Commedia del Goalie', examples of which work might be found here within the galleries of the artist’s website: intriguingly 'iconic' stuff, given both the subject matter, its incorporation into the classical, academic forms of art, & the collaged nature of the physical works themselves.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Gift That Keeps Giving...

A Mother’s Day walk along familiar, once almost daily-trod routes offered the opportunity for a re-acquaintance with some of the instances of the local phenomenon of the ‘double black lines’ corrective road markings specific to the place, with hopes that perhaps an example of discarded aluminium can ‘roadkill’ might be found alongside, in the manner of yore & often photographically documented accordingly. Such hopes were delightfully realised not once but twice in quick succession, with such objects being found mere yards apart.

The first example is a particularly fine one of the genre, with the can-as-was (transformed now into little more than a compressed sliver) positioned upon one of the painted lines & flattened onto in a manner that suggests, especially as its surface has become abraded of some of the paint of its branded livery (note, though, that the logo endures), that it has become embedded into the scene, the picture plane of the modernist-minimalist monochrome of the textured tarmac surface with its pair of superimposed horizontal bands.

The second ‘roadkill’ can was then encountered at rest beside an area of the double black lines exhibiting substantial surface erosion & thus significant evidence of the underlying yellow paint as originally applied upon the tarmac: note how the revealed yellow shape above the flattened can & the object itself display a coincidental similarity of form & size.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dans le Style Français...

graphite & putty eraser/30x20cm

Continuing with the nascent project of drawings processed from the source of photographic images contained within the recently-acquired small collection of late 1960s – early 1970s football annuals, but, on this occasion & intending to attempt a series as a specific & discrete sub-section of the general body of work as it might develop, diversifying into portraiture, at least on a surface level.

As with the match action images, the annuals are a rich source of suitable period pictures of the players themselves (note those sideburns, for example), often, as might be expected, the higher profile ones of the day whose names and faces are recognizable to me either because their careers endured into the years I began taking an interest in the game or otherwise I’ve come to know of from historical research in the service of general interest. Others, however, seem to have been those who spent their days in the more obscure reaches of the lower divisions (although it must be stated at this point that such an environment has been where my own supporter’s heart lies, having followed Wrexham since 1977), mostly untouched by all but the most local of celebrity, & one of the annuals, over the course of a four-page gallery spread, features a selection of such players, journeymen or stalwarts, of whom I had no previous knowledge in amongst the familiar ‘stars’: these, intrinsically, often appear more interesting characters somehow, perhaps their very anonymity lends a certain inverted exoticism & glamour, also linked to some of the clubs they might be representing (please see this archive post for something more along the lines of this thinking).

The first subject, chosen for no other reason than his was the first image to be represented within the design layout of the page(s) of portraits, top left in the grid format, happens thus to be Graham French, one of those names previously unknown to me, even during the process of drawing but, it transpires in the subsequent course of a little light research, the owner of a most intriguingly colouful playing background & character, & a bona fide legend of Luton Town, featuring in their supporters' all-time greatest team, where he clearly saw his best days among his travels & various clubs, to boot.
There's some classic black & white TV footage of a rather finely executed goal scored by the talented Mr French here: lovely stuff, & we at TOoT fully approve of the application of the phrase 'Godlike genius' too.

In technical terms, the appearance if not necessarily the form of the drawing is partly explicable to its being processed from immediate reference to a somewhat washed-out looking photocopy of the original image in the annual (the 1970-vintage print resolution of which being of a lower standard than contemporary publications), increased in size by approximately 350% & further degrading the quality of the reproduction, hence distancing itself some way from source, adding to the levels of ‘de-photography’ & also ‘re-mediation’. It’s interesting to note too that many of such portraits or pen pictures of footballers would have been taken during the ‘pre-season’ period, i.e. in July or August, thus often drenched in bright sunlight into which the subjects are squinting, the images displaying a characteristic high contrast & loss of detail to shadow which all contribute to the particular aesthetic of the genre. Such source material also allows for the indulgence in the representation of some lettering/text too.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Foul Deeds

Today the opposite of tomato is reading 'Man With a Blue Scarf'

graphite & putty eraser/20x30cm

Another archive photographic image of football match action served as the source from which this latest drawing was processed, not, in fact, from the stock available within the acquired selection of period annuals as previously mentioned, but transcending these intended limitations for the sheer irresistibility of the particular moment it represents & fixes forever in time.

In common with the previous pair of examples to date, there’s something about the process of transcribing such imagery of a frozen moment into drawing, mark by mark, that puts in mind Hockney’s (concept of a) ‘Picture Emphasizing Stillness’, a certain irony in slowly taking one’s time to construct a representation of an image that was originally created instantaneously that, in some as-yet still undefined way, must surely contribute towards the mooted concept of ‘de-photography’.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Back to Black...

A visit in the company of A to the old haunt of Cheltenham brought a find, not of double black lines but, rather, an interesting variation on the subject of black overpainted road markings upon the tarmac surface, including something of a diamond grid pattern & some text, well worth photographically documenting for posterity.

We also found quite a striking ‘still life’ composition on another stretch of residential road & kerbside (in fact just along the way from in front of the house & flat in which I once lived & painted), of a discarded disposable cigarette lighter, orange clad, juxtaposed with a pair of painted stripes of road markings upon the textured ground of the tarmac.