On receiving the a-n bursary award to attend the Venice Biennale 2017, I decided to experience it through a performance work, drawing the pavilions at the Giardini, and Diaspora Pavilion with my feet. The video documentation of the drawings are available on my Youtube channel    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYgi_-Wop6iUmJ8eHsZlwaA

The experience was amazing, so much to see in such a short visit, so you have to be selective, especially when you are on a mission!

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1oth May

On the evening of the 10th we all went to the Diaspora Pavilion exhibition and launch-party at Palazzo Pisani. The works comprising of sculpture, wall drawing, sound, video, painting and installations assailed all the senses. The nineteen artists did a magnificent job and the Pavilion is a ‘must see’. In the evening one of the large spaces became the setting for a disco extravaganza and much dancing was done!

At the end of the evening I had the last dance with a very nice lady. I asked where she was from and she said ‘here’. She repeated it again ‘here’.. ‘I own the building’, she said.  Woah. A few days later I returned to do a foot-drawing of the palazzo and show the owner the sketch. I was given an architectural tour of the whole building. The construction is amazing!

So here are the videos of my foot drawing (drawn on 13th May):

Foot-drawing of Palazzo Pisani

and the visit to the exhibition and launch party boogie session:

Diaspora Pavilion visit and launch party boogie session

11th May

This day was spent going through as many pavilions at the Giardini as possible. One of my favourites was the American Pavilion with artist Mark Bradford’s installation ‘Tomorrow is another Day’. The temporary steps to the unassuming entrance door with rubble piled up outside set the scene to the first installation- a large ‘blob’ made of waste paper decoupage, suspended from the ceiling and filling the entire room so you had to squeeze around it. It almost said ‘America is too full (of rubbish), no room for you.

Foot-drawing of American and Israeli pavilions

By the end of the day I was tired from a day of walking (all the way from my flat at the other side of the island) and visiting seventeen pavilions. However, as the crowds had died down, I decided to do my first foot drawing of the Main Pavilion and Belgian Pavilion. I drew till kicking out time. See link :

Foot-drawing of Main and Belgian pavilions

12th May

I returned to the Arsenale in the morning to re-vist my favourite works. The Irish Pavilion installation was a chilling video performance work referencing consequences of illegal abortion  activities.

I returned to the Giardini in the afternoon. The place was heaving! I wanted to do my second drawing but was very nervous. There was a large garden party going on in front of the Egyptian Pavilion. This part of the Giardin is a large, grassed open space with linked pavilions around the perimeter. I downed some ‘dutch courage’ quickly to rid my inhibitions. As I sat facing the Egyptian Pavilion a group of young people in conversation caught my eye and set off the composition.. and I was away…A few observers commented that I was performing and stopped to watch and talk.

Foot-drawing of Egyptian Pavilion

Moataz Nasr, the artist for the Egyptian pavilion has lined the walls and floors with baked mud and created a large-screen video installation depicting dramatic village life.

13th May

I want back to the Giardini in the morning. I had overcome my initial shyness to be foot-drawing surrounded by so many critical eyes. I was surprised at the many comments acknowledging that, as I was looking like a ‘professional’ but wearing trainers and drawing with my feet, this could be nothing else but a performance work going on. So I managed to find a bench directly opposite the elegant Spanish Pavilion. Whilst drawing, a jazz Clarinet player from Sweden stopped to talk and look at the drawing. Amazingly, on the plane to Venice I had met a curator from Sweden who suggested applying for an art commission in Gothenburg. So I thought of ‘joining the dots’ and coming up with a future gallery work for Gothenburg, around jazz…  I digress, here is the Spanish Pavilion drawing:

Foot-drawing of Spanish Pavilion

The installation by Spanish artist Jordi Colomer was a mixture of sculpture, video and staging portraying urban action in an unstable, high-density housing estate. The central hall had model-scale buildings made from black and white images of tenement buildings printed onto tin boxes, all propped on old tables. The printed boxes trembled under the air currents from fans. The surrounding rooms had video screens in various arrangements showing scenes of urban-action  from the tenants. I enjoyed doing the drawing of the facade, it was a lovely building to draw.

In the evening I and other people on the bursary went Irish Pavilion launch party on the island of Lido. The party got swinging with some heavy drum and bass music and electro funk. I could not resist joining the dance-offs. However, in my enthusiasm, I did some quick footwork, went into a spin and dropped into the half-splits….. and split my suit trousers!! I thought, I can’t hang around here too long. So pulled my shirt out over my trousers and headed for the Vaporetto ferry back to the mainland. It was a great night though, proper ‘get down’, thank you Ireland. Unfortunately, I did not get to record the event.

14th May

Having done the main Biennale pavilions I decided with a colleague to visit Damien Hirst’s ‘Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable’. The exhibition was in two locations – The Punta Della Dogana and the Palzzo Grassi. We went to the Punta Della Dogana and I was not too impressed. The works were of a grand-scale, some a bit Walt Disney and like theatre props, others machined out of marble. Despite being all about under the sea, I felt the work had very little depth but was impressive in its ambition and scale of operation.

15th May

My last day. I was determined to do a foot drawing of a Damien Hirst work, Despite nearly missing my flight, I managed to get to the Palazzo Grassi for the second part of the exhibition. I found this exhibition better in the quality of works and the artistic statement of art-meets-mythology-meets-museum-meets archeology fiction. I got fed up of seeing human sculptures all with their eyes closed as they were made from life-casts. However, the works that were done without life-casts were brilliant. I wanted to meet the craftsmen who made them. For me the exhibition lacked philosophical  depth which I really like in Hirst’s works.

So I had 20 minutes to do the foot drawing before I was banished from Venice and back on my plane. Here it is ‘ The Fate of a Banished Man (Rearing)’..

Foot-drawing of Damien Hirst Sculpture