Concentration, 2021


Concentration, video commissioned by Williamson Art Gallery & Museum, Wirral.

With thanks to Jo Burns and Colin Simpson. Sound by Jacob Kelly, editing by Alan Dunn, produced in Alternator Studio & Project Space.

Describing his artist parents, the novelist David Mitchell remembers them as content when drawing, painting or designing something. He realised that their life was far from bohemian or easy, but watching them at work they oozed a sense of being centred and content in the act of observing a few flowers in a jar, transforming them through painting.

Every drawn line, brush-mark is an act of translation; every translation is a form of understanding, a quiet exercise in the here and now. To reach that level of humility in looking and doing requires single-minded focus and concentration. In that sense the act of making a drawing (big or small) requires silence and stillness, akin to the silence within monastic walls; shut out, switched off, disconnected, alone with ink, paper and an adventurous eye.

During lockdown, an artist friend and mother of two primary school age children climbed the highest peaks of Europe with their imagination. They measured the height of their staircase and calculated how many times it needed climbing to equate to the height of Ben Nevis. Fully equipped with hand-made climbing gear and wellingtons, hand-drawn maps, charts, banners and food in mini rucksacks they climbed ten peaks in lock down. Once they had climbed each of their Munros/staircase peaks they wrote postcards.

Whilst not climbing imagined peaks, I ventured onto metaphorical ice: small round primed plywood discs on which I learned to dance with a Chinese Brush and watercolours, daring myself on to become nimble and light footed.