Last week we had a crit for the first time in a while, which was really interesting and helpful for me. There was definitely an element of hearing the same thing again (as in previous crits), which I suppose is to be expected, as the style of my drawings hasn’t changed. However, I was slightly disappointed that no one picked up on the larger number of drawings (this time I showed six individual drawings, rather than one or two of the same).
The image above shows the works that I presented for the Crit: the six drawings that I had completed at the time, displayed in a grid format. This wasn’t entirely the display layout that I had envisaged, not only in terms of it being presented in the ‘grid’ format (which feels boring as it is the standard display method, and I had originally planned to subvert the grid), but also because I had planned to have the plant labels which I had designed, but due to technical issues (the IPCC website was unfortunately down on the day that I needed to create the QR codes for the labels and access the information to create the codes for the labels), I was unable to display them. This was sadly picked up in the crit – with people saying that they wanted to know the names of the plants. However there was nothing I could do about that, and it was just an effective reminder to collate the information ahead of time, rather than leaving things to the last minute and being caught short.
The following screenshots are my full notes from the crit, but these are the main points that I will take away from it:
- The mark making is a success, as the detail on it draws you closer to the work.
- The mistakes on the earlier works seem to be something that people connect with and want to see more of, as they show a vulnerability – possibly in the plant itself, reinforcing its identity as endangered. They also keep the drawings feeling more hand-produced rather than scanned or photographed.
- Clarity and accuracy are different from what is possibly expected from scientific illustrations – subverting them, as they aren’t botanical illustrations, but resemble them.
- What is their function?
- The grid encourages the audience to compare and contrast the images. I may want to reassess this.
- The inconsistencies in the drawings, such as the mistakes and the difference in paper types are something that people really connect with, and maybe I should make them a deliberate part of the drawing process?
- Does it matter that they are reproductions of reproductions (drawings of photographs) and not representations of a living subject? What effect does this have on the work?
The fact that people really liked and connected with the inconsistencies and mistakes in the drawings is definitely something I need to explore more, as I myself am unhappy when mistakes and inconsistencies are present. Before the crit, I had decided that I wanted to redraw the Catacol Whitebeam drawing, as it was on a different paper and seemed at complete odds with the rest of the collection. However, when shown it, everyone liked the difference in paper, saying that it made the archival nature of the series more apparent, and that maybe it should be a planned and introduced feature of the work – using a different paper on a few of the drawings to create a false sense of age and multifarious origin (as is the case in real archives). This is definitely something that I need to think about more, and work out how it may or may-not work in my practice. The other ‘thing’ that came up in the crit was the idea of the reproduction of a reproduction and the effect this might have on the meaning of the work. Largely, I feel that to the general public, this won’t matter so much, but I do think it matters in terms of the herbarium specimens, as I am drawing pressed and dried plants. Therefore, they are not being shown off at their living stage, which possibly alters the way they look and their identification. However, there is little I can do about this, as I do not have access to the physical specimens (or living versions), nor the skill in the ‘revival’ of the plants for me to draw them in their original state.
Overall, it was a successful crit. I didn’t necessarily glean as much as I have done previously from other crits, but it was helpful and rewarding none-the-less.