Monday, 6 July 2015

Artist-in-Residence: the 'Atmospheres' Conference


I was recently commissioned to spend two days drawing at Manchester University, recording the fascinating 'Atmospheres' conference for sociology researchers based at the Morgan Centre. 


I packed my sketching gear and hopped on a train, a little nervous, but mostly very excited. I have once before done a similar job, on that occasion for the library service and it was good fun, so my pencil finger was itching to begin!


The idea was that I should sketch as much as possible, recording the various speakers and capturing something of the atmosphere of the conference since, after all, the theme was 'atmospheres'. 


Apart from the fun I had meeting the sketch-challenge, the conference itself was fascinating. It covered a huge range of sociological issues around the theme. I particularly enjoyed a paper on shared atmospheres at heavy metal concerts and the rules of audience 'moshing' (jumping up and down, crashing into one-another in an apparent frenzy). There was a paper on snobbery, another on beer festivals, one about the weather, one on taste, another on Goths... it was extremely varied and totally accessible to a layman.


I was working in the concertina books I made. I scribbled away the whole time and filled 6 metres of paper! 


Near the end, I gave a 15 minute presentation about urban sketching and then used a visualiser to show everyone the drawings I had been doing over the two days. Luckily everyone seemed to approve of my drawings of them. Then, straight after that presentation, I co-delivered a paper with Professor Heath, the director of the Morgan Centre, talking about the upcoming residency and what we hoped to achieve from the year. 


The final key-note was the wonderful Simon Armitage, who talked on 'The Language of Where we Live' and read us some of his spellbinding poetry. When it came to questions, there was an embarressing moment: the first questioner apologised to Simon and then addressed their question to me instead! It was a good question, about the parallels between my way of recording detail through images and Simon's gathering of detail through language. It sparked some good discussion, but I did want to floor to open up at first, when all eyes, including Simon's, shot to me, brush in hand, mouth open in surprise. 


And then suddenly it was all over. I decided that, since I had recorded part of my journey there, I would carry on working and record my journey home. The train was packed so I was very lucky to get a seat. I was tucked tight against the window, so it was quite a challenge, frantically scribbling impressions of the passing landscape with my concertina paper unfolding all over the place and the man next to me being terribly British and pretending it wasn't happening!


Unfortunately, extrapolating from my output at the conference, it looks like I am going to need to wrestle with another roll of watercolour paper before the residency, as I will need approximately twice as many sketchbooks as I have already made. Rats.

A big thank you to the team at the Morgan Centre for hosting a really interesting event and for looking after me so well. An even bigger thank you to Sue Heath for commissioning me to take part in such a fun project. Can't wait for the next bit...

2 comments:

Jules Woolford said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your husband and delighted to hear he is now recovering. Glad everything else went so well!

Lynne the Pencil said...

Thanks Jules :-)