Contract (2015) - works in progress, graphite on bristol board, 21cm x 30cm each

Contract (2015) – works in progress, graphite on bristol board, 21cm x 30cm each

Contract, installation view, Syson Gallery, Nottingham (2015)

Contract, installation view, Syson Gallery, Nottingham (2015)

The exhibition Tempus Fugit was organised by students on the MA Contemporary Curatorial Practice at the University of Lincoln in partnership with SYSON gallery in Nottingham.

The term refers to the notion of time escaping and being irretrievable. The curators invited artists to explore their own perceptions of time and the value they put upon their own time. They ask if it is possible for an artist to sell their time in the pursuit or creation of art. Invited artists were given limited time to send a piece of mail art or instructions for the curators to follow.

I had been working on a series of drawings that were process orientated – they would begin by a line that would be followed by an adjacent line, forming contours that would grow one after the other with no planned outcome except to inhabit the page in some way. Although the forms were knotted and complex, they had a directness of line that makes their construction transparent, no hidden elements – no shading or layering that keeps anything from view.

I wanted to strip back this idea further – to make drawings that were governed by a series of rules that would make them more direct, so that they could communicate something of the time taken to construct them.

Thinking about the hand in time, minutes of the hand – something produced by the hand in relation to time. They could be formed by the hand moving round marking time…hand sized drawings.

They needed to communicate something about the relationship of time to value.

They need to explore a space between structured mechanical activity and anomaly.

The self-imposed rules:

  • Form circle comprised of lines migrating inwards to the centre
  • Each line to start parallel with the previous one but make its way to the centre
  • Each line has to adjust to the previous line
  • Work clockwise until the circle is complete
  • Clock the time taken to complete each one
  • Work at least one full day in total
  • Consider that you are working for the minimum wage
  • What is produced will be worth the number of hours at that rate

Each drawing was produced on an A4 sheet of smooth Bristol Board with an HB 0.5mm graphite propelling pencil. It was interesting to note that the first few I did took appx 40 mins to complete whereas later ones took longer – averaging 60 mins. In one sense I became more controlled, more meditative and in doing so the pieces became more flowing yet also anomalies were more apparent, animated, I found I went with these – still bearing in mind the rules, going along with and also correcting the swerves in order to return to the middle. The pieces take on a life of their own – organic and sculptural. I decided the title would be ‘Contract’ – referencing the contractual nature of the undertaking (six zeros.. zero hours…) but also the forms that the drawings allude to – contracted muscle, tension, drawing inwards.