Visual Intelligences Research Project

Exhibitions : Inspiration To Order : Gerry Davies

Pen and Ink on Waterford paper
20 x 20 ins

Four A5 Notebooks, Various on site and studio drawings
Indian ink and pencil on paper

Gerry Davies was born in the Cynon Valley, South Wales, U.K in 1957. He graduated from Wolverhampton Polytechnic in 1981 with a degree in Fine Art specialising in sculpture before entering the painting school of the Royal College of Art, London where he spent three years making drawings. He was Artist in Residence at Durham Cathedral UK 1998-99 and a Fulbright scholar at Purdue University USA 1999-2000. He has had a number of solo shows of his drawings and been represented in numerous group and national survey exhibitions. He is currently working on a new sequence of drawings and sculptural objects - Flood Story - that imagine communities fleeing a deluge upon rafts. He is also working on an Arts and Humanities Research Council project to research and exhibit contemporary British artists notebooks. He lives and works in North Yorkshire.

Artist's Statement on Process

Over time my drawing practice has changed; topics, scales, and materials have differed, yet two aspects have remained constant: drawing as an act of poetic inscription and the use of notebooks. So, although occasionally drawings lead on to other forms -3D objects or prints- their origins and intentions lay in manipulating materials and images to suggest narratives. And, although collage and photography have a generative role, it is the notebook, as both a vehicle for collecting and preserving ideas and images and simultaneously a site for rumination, that has stayed constant. For me notebook drawing is a discursive and reflexive activity, it confirms decisions within states of visual and conceptual flux and reflux. Unlike more ‘finished’ works notebooks narrate a private dialogue that arises from relationships between personal compulsions and artistic intentions, or document the fertilisation of found or candidly observed images by pre-existing ideas. The process is, however, far from automatic and instinctive, Its highly self conscious, I’m aware of myself asking questions through notebook drawing – how can I balance chance against calculation, should this fugitive image (column of smoke) be fixed through a system (gridded up) ? Or how to synthesise newspaper images of the Iraqi diaspora with a sense of our culture slipping through my fingers? Finished drawings will describe a single, selected answer, but rarely betray the extent of the iterative process.

Cave is an example of a recent finished drawing; this alongside the accompanying notebooks goes some way to illustrate the acts of reckoning and weighing up different and competing forces. The first note for this work was made underground in a cave that J.M.W Turner once drew in. His drawing Inside Yordas Cave 1816 is wild and jagged, lacking his customary measured precision, another, a few pages on in his notebook, is more extreme, like a section from a seismograph. I followed in his footsteps and found that drawing in the dark levelled up other senses to bear greater influence on perceptions and responses. The notebooks attempt to record what it felt like to be in that environment including the numbing coldness and sounds of cascades and smells of earth. However, in re-drawing the images in the studio all potential links between my observations of dramatic images of nature with notions of the sublime were progressively erased through development and final application of a semi mechanical drawing system. Rather than Romanticisms magical flowing of transcendent artistic vision the work is achieved through relentless application of single vertical pen marks across a matrix of projected and pre drawn lines. Once set in train the process of drawing advanced horizontally from left to right across the surface, moving up, from the bottom of the work, line by line. Each mark required a decision about relative tone and density and selection of the appropriate pen, nib size and ink quality.

This drawing satisfies my appreciation of the cave: the accumulated result of many minute actions over time; and some of the desires I have that only drawing can satisfy: to engage in visual thinking, to become immersed in the process, materials and decisions and to let outcomes take care of themselves.