Observational Sketches

February 18, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The wall of visual interpretations have expanded! Soon I will invade another side of the wall with my sketches.

In my previous post, I mentioned a major part of my work is creating visual interpretations as research for Public Goods, Proboscis’ new programme of projects exploring the intangible things we value most about the people, places and communities we live in. So far I’ve been creating sketches using images found online combined with my own knowledge. We decided that it would help to gather inspiration from the ‘real’ world in both drawings and photographs, to be surrounded by people and absorb the atmosphere of everyday life.

Usually shying away behind the PC, I agreed to take on the challenge and chose the Science Museum as my first destination. Upon entry there were many objects on display, from steam engines to planes to the evolution of technology. All these objects were traces of what used to be; evidence that reflected on the lifestyle of those that once lived. The objects were categorised in a time-line, indicating the different notable era’s in society such as mass production and the industrial revolution, it demonstrated the changes and evolution stages of specific objects and introduced new theories and materials that were readily available of that time and also the trends that influenced them. As I made my way through the different displays, I was overwhelmed by the thought that all these inventions were the stepping stone to today’s technology. If it wasn’t for these people, our world of convenience wouldn’t have advanced so much.

The next exhibition was the exploration of outer space, whilst looking at the different satellite and shuttle parts on display it hit me that curiosity is a big part of our human nature. Creating theories and exploring methods to prove them and making new discoveries. But it is science that makes it all happen, by making the intangible into tangible with the use of devices and tools; such as light or the ability to fly.

Going upstairs, leaving the historical part of science behind me, I came to the “Who am I?” exhibition. It delved into our biological make up with displays about how our brain is wired and exploration of dreams. The next few displays were about aspects that make us unique individuals such as our exposure to cultures and the environment we grew up in and how such aspects affect us psychologically. I really enjoyed my visit here, and appreciated objects which were the greatest inventions of their time. Although behind glass and never to be used again, just imagining the stories that accompanied it makes each object that more valuable.

During my time at the Science Museum I focused on photographing of objects so for the next outing, I headed to Westfield Shopping Center to create first hand observations of people in a public space.

From being used to sketching still life or just from imagination it was challenging to draw people that wouldn’t stay still! The aim for such an exercise is to capture the moment, through speed sketching; with enough detail to illustrate the subject’s form. As an artist who loves details, I struggled at first to sketch simplified drawings of people but because there was a chance that the person would suddenly move, I was forced to note down their action quickly.

I managed to spend some time just watching how people behaved, the gestures they made when with others and the body language they displayed. But one thing I noticed whilst in the center was; there was no concept of time – with no visible clock anywhere it made the experience feel so timeless and surreal with very little natural lighting.  People would often check their mobiles or they too would stop and observe others from the upper levels of the center, whilst waiting for their companion. I’ll be doing more observational sketches later on but at places where people might not move around as often as they would in a shopping center!!