Wednesday, 23 March 2016

A Very Political Painting!



Yesterday, I was at the Morgan Centre again, looking for things to sketch. There was nothing specific going on,  so I thought I would spend the day in the Learning Centre, capturing the way people use the space and drawing students at work. It seemed logical to begin with the reception area, so I got myself a chair and started to get out my kit.


"Can I help you?" called a woman from a few yards away, across the foyer. I explained about being Artist-in-Residence and what I wanted to do, but there was a worrying pause. She came out from behind her counter. "I'm sorry, but you need to apply in advance to get permission to do anything of that nature." I showed her a sketchbook and my university ID,  but it was no good. Best laid plans...


On the way back, I was stopped in my tracks by the glorious display of daffodils outside University Place, so I stopped to do a quick painting of that instead. It was reasonably mild, but the stone wall I was perched on was cold on my bum.


By the time I was done, I was well ready to get back indoors, so I returned to my desk to think of a new plan for the rest of the day. I made a cup of tea to warm myself up, then it hit me - I hadn't yet sketched the kitchen area.


It's a little hub at the centre of the open-plan work space. It has all the essentials but, like many communal kitchens, it can be rather unloved. All the better for sketching!



It wasn't actually too bad but, as I sat painting, lots of people came and went, fixing drinks, and almost every one commented on what a contentious space the kitchen had become. "That's a very political painting," said one academic and gave me the story. As is often the case, one (female) member of staff had been keeping it clean, but then she left and chaos reigned. Things got so bad that a stiffly worded email about washing up after yourself was sent out to all the department. That email must have been a bit scary, as it has obviously done the trick, for now at least, because the sink was empty: just one teaspoon!



Interestingly, this sketch demonstrates rather well the difference in outcome between my using watercolour before any drawing (the sink and stuff on the side) and my sketching a few guidelines first, then painting (dishwasher). There's a loss of accuracy and detail when you splosh paint in first, but the dishwasher is definitely less exciting.

I only got half the kitchen painted before home time. There's still the opposite side, with the fridge and the bin. One PHD student asked me if I had opened the fridge. I hadn't. "It smells really bad," he said. "More like a bin than a fridge. I'm not sure I fancy using it any more." Okay, maybe that email wasn't so effective after all. Never mind, it's all good stuff as far as I'm concerned. The more 'story' the better. I might have to draw the contents of the fridge next time. If I can bare it!


I'm rather glad now, I was turned away from the Learning Centre.

I should have taken this photo in the kitchen itself, rather than back at home, but I suddenly realised it was quarter past five: just enough time to scrabble all my stuff together and still make my train. Just made it!

24 comments:

Alison O said...

Fantastic reportage sketching. It is great to see you holding the work up, It gives a clear indication of scale.
Perhaps another stiffly worded email needs to go around regarding permissions for you to do what you are there to do???

Sue Pownall said...

How fabulous - love the story and painting of the kitchem!

Fashions said...

Thank you for your very good site….

Kate (Cathy Johnson) said...

How odd that you were turned away! I'm glad though, it turned out to be an exciting pair of images, and a fascinating story. (Reminds me of one of the main reasons I opted out of joining a commune, back in the day!)

Fiona Fleming said...

I well remember the politics of a shared fridge in my student residence - the frustration of going to get milk for tea or cereal in the morning and someone has swiped all the milk you bought. Preventing someone getting their cuppa in the morning is a truly heinous crime! Great sketching and great story!

I need orange said...

I was chastised at work for sending out one of those stiffly-worded messages about leaving the kitchen a pit mess.............

Some people apparently think "shared space" is *their* space, and it's perfectly ok to leave their nasty dried-on-oatmeal bowl sitting soaking in the shared sink for hours (or days....).

No. Other people need to use the sink, and they deserve a clean (and empty) sink. If someone lets their dishes get that bad, they need to take them home and soak/clean them there. Not in public space!

My final salvo is -- if EVERYONE left dirty dishes in the sink, the sink would be overflowing with dirty dishes...... If everyone else can manage to NOT leave their dishes in the sink, so can the people who are leaving dirty dishes in the sink......

And as for stealing other people's food -- shame on everyone who indulges in this sleazy behavior!!!

patmosphere said...

This is really gorgeous work, Lynne!

Alexandra said...

I often come by to read and get inspired but don't always leave comments. Probably a "shame on me" as you're quite inspirational. I'm a self-taught artist who's learned alot from my hubby who's from London and has an art degree. I plan to take your class this week on Craftsy and look forward to all that I can learn. I'm a fairly new children's illustrator. And although I've illustrated 4 books so far, I know inside....I can do better! Thanks you! xx

Kitty said...

I love this painting, and how there is a rich social conflict and negotiation around shared kitchens the world over. I can remember vividly the time I spent in work's kitchen when I was a 19 year old (non tea/coffee drinking) tea girl who ended up cleaning whilst I was stood waiting for the kettles to boil and trying to work how how you make hot drinks! We had our own kitchenette in our office but it was unsanitary to the max so I'd have to cross the road to the other building.

I think the difference between painting with no guidelines and with is really interesting, and yet it is still really cohesive.

John Birks said...

Great post..

Lynne the Pencil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lynne the Pencil said...

How lovely. Thanks Alexandra. Hope you enjoy the Craftsy class and there are some new things that you get to learn and make use of in your next book :-)

Lynne the Pencil said...

Oh dear, sounds like that was a bit fraught! One of the professors I am working with did a big research project recently about the issues around shared living. All very interesting stuff.

Lynne the Pencil said...

Ah yes, it's always the nitty gritty stuff which prevents things working comfortably in the end!

Lynne the Pencil said...

Glad you are enjoying my ramblings :-D

Lynne the Pencil said...

Thanks Alison. I have an email address to apply to, but though it's a bit childish, part of me is thinking "stuff it then: your loss!". Stiffly worded one would be more fun ;-D

Lynne the Pencil said...

Cheers Sue. I enjoy sketching things which have a bit of a back story, so I was delighted when it all started to come out :-D

Lynne the Pencil said...

Ha ha! You're right : that's a hanging offence :-D

Lynne the Pencil said...

Thanks so much. I was especially pleased with this one. Sometimes it just all falls in place.

Lynne the Pencil said...

Ha ha - that DOES sound bad if you would rather leave the building than use their facilities! It is so interesting though, all the issues around shared spaces. I am so enjoying working alongside the team at the Morgan Centre, as this is exactly the kind of thing they explore.

Lynne the Pencil said...

Ha ha - that DOES sound bad if you would rather leave the building than use their facilities! It is so interesting though, all the issues around shared spaces. I am so enjoying working alongside the team at the Morgan Centre, as this is exactly the kind of thing they explore.

Lynne the Pencil said...

Thanks so much. I was especially pleased with this one. Sometimes it just all falls in place.

Lynne the Pencil said...

Ha ha! You're right : that's a hanging offence :-D

Lynne the Pencil said...

Sorry folks - didn't realise that it would put all my individual replies all together at the end. How annoying!