RCA Drawing Collaborates: David Johnson

with David Johnson, Sarah Mercer & Lucy Gallwey

This drawing session was conducted in collaboration with Royal College of Art PhD candidate David Johnson. Join David, Lucy and Sarah for an evening of experimental drawing. We will be using blind drawing to create images which draw on memories, the body and the senses, and using language and touch as a means to generate our marks.

David Johnson is a PhD researcher in the School of Arts and Humanities, developing research and practice on the nature of remembered experiences, innate knowledge and current multi-sensory stimulation.

During this session, Lucy reads a text by John Ruskin, from “The Stones of Venice”, 1851-53, which David particularly selected for the drawing exercise. We’ve reproduced it here:

“We know that gentians grow on the Alps, and olives on the Apennines; but we
do not enough conceive for ourselves that variegated mosaic of the world's
surface which a bird sees in its migration, that difference between the district
of the gentian and of the olive which the stork and the swallow see far off, as
they lean upon the sirocco wind. Let us, for a moment, try to raise ourselves
even above the level of their flight, and imagine the Mediterranean lying
beneath us like an irregular lake, and an its ancient promontories sleeping in
the sun: here and there an angry spot of thunder, a grey stain of storm, moving
upon the burning field; and here and there a fixed wreath of white volcano
smoke, surrounded by its circle of ashes; but for the most part a great
peacefulness of light, Syria and Greece, Italy and Spain, laid like pieces of a
golden pavement into the sea-blue, chased, as we stoop nearer to them, with
bossy beaten work of mountain chains, and glowing softly with terraced
gardens, and flowers heavy with frankincense, mixed among masses of laurel,
and orange, and plumy palm, that abate with their grey-green shadows the
burning of the marble rocks, and of the ledges of porphyry sloping under
lucent sand. Then let us pass farther towards the north, until we see the orient
colours change gradually into a vast belt of rainy green, where the pastures of
Switzerland, and poplar valleys of France, and dark forests of the Danube and
Carpathians stretch from the mouths of the Loire to those of the Volga, seen
through clefts in grey swirls of rain-cloud and flaky veils of the mist of the
brooks, spreading low along the pasture lands: and then, farther north still, to
see the earth heave into mighty masses of leaden rock and heathy moor,
bordering with a broad waste of gloomy purple that belt of field and wood,
and splintering into irregular and grisly islands amidst the northern seas,
beaten by storm, and chilled by ice- I drift, and tormented by furious pulses of
contending tide, until the roots of the last forests fail from among the hill
ravines, and the hunger of the north wind bites their peaks into barrenness;
and, at last, the wall of ice, durable like iron, sets, deathlike, its white teeth
against us out of the polar twilight.”

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