Hog-related test

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Test post

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Mapping through drawing

Last weekend I went for a walk. In total, I walked for 7 minutes, but every minute I stopped to draw my surroundings. These drawings are a sort of map of those 7 minutes.

Afterwards, I reduced each drawing to its most important features. All drawings and paintings are selective, just as our own sight is. If a painter were to paint a whole tree they probably wouldn't include the veins of each leaf. Maps tend to limit more strictly what information they communicate, so that they can be more effective and more accurate with the information they do communicate.

For me, the path I'm travelling along is often one of the most important parts of the scene. Terraced buildings combine to form huge man-made landscape features. The vertical lines of tree trunks regularly contradict the horizontal man-made environment. Lampposts join in too.

Down residential cul-de-sacs and alleyways, branches and leaves combine to form a chaotic contrast to the man-made rectangles and straight lines.

The most refined drawings of each place were based on a 4x8 grid. I redrew the 7 drawings as one continuous list, like the journey itself. The underlying structure connects each image to the next. Each drawing by sharing its neighours' perspective loses a bit of its own context. This, the regularity caused by the grid, and the abstract nature of the simplified lines makes it much more difficult to observe these as individual scenes.

This is a map of time, rather than distance. The intervals are linked to time by my walking pace, which cannot be perfectly consistent. In that way, this is also a map of my tiredness, the weather and an impossible number of external factors.

This map does not record direction, distance or the recurrence of single features (as almost all maps do). These are things I would like to explore.


The Long Walk

The Long Walk is a 2.5 mile path that leads from the Copper Horse (in Windsor Great Park) to Windsor Castle. I wanted to draw the scene from the Copper Horse from memory.

The first thing I drew was the Long Walk. I don't have a strong visual memory so it didn't feel justifiable to use arbitrary positions for any of the lines. Instead, I divided the space into regular areas, and then continued to divide spaces in two until a structure emerged that felt right. This iterative process allowed me to make small changes until the drawing represented something close to my memory.

I realised afterwards that, by anchoring each new component to the guessed position of the previous one, I was creating an image that became further from the truth with each iteration. This feels similar to the nature of memory itself; each time something is relived, it develops a new inaccuracy and concretes previous ones.

I'm interested in finding the most basic truths in an image, so I decided to begin a new set of drawings by following this process backwards. Rather than beginning with an imagined scene, I started with a watercolour I made just over a year ago (also of the view from the Copper Horse). These are some of the drawings I made.

The drawing above shows the view from the Copper Horse in its purest form, as only its most vital components: the horizon, the Castle and the Long Walk narrowing into the distance.

However, if my concern is not the scene but the actual physical objects in front of me, then the image can be reduced further. The horizon is something shared by a lot of views and it is vital to this view. But it isn't important to the description of the place.

I reduced the image further so that only the Long Walk and the Castle were left. The most economical ways to draw this were:
  • to allow the converging sides of the Long Walk to meet at a point and to move backwards for the horizontal line of the Castle; and
  • to represent the Long Walk as a single line with the Castle at its end.
The first takes into account perspective, and is therefore still attempting to represent the view. The second is the purest description of these two features in the landscape.

It shouldn't really be a surprise that these two forms look like uppercase letters A and T. Each letter of our alphabet has evolved from a more complex depiction of a real world object, which - through the increasing economy necessary for writing - has been reduced to just a few marks: the simplest form it could be without losing distinction from other letterforms.

I'd like to continue exploring this reductive process to make a set of symbols that record places I visit. These would be something like icons of a map.


Old Windsor to South Ascot

On Boxing Day I walked 9 miles from Old Windsor to South Ascot through Windsor Great Park. The route was not a straight line but overall I travelled southwest.

Old Windsor Wood

Old Windsor Wood was once part of Windsor Forest, which was huge and covered this part of Berkshire. Now it's a small pocket of ancient woodland in Windsor Great Park.

The path through the wood runs parallel to a shallow ditch; a few times they cross. This is the park pale. It was dug in the 13th century to define the edge of the Great Park and to keep deer and boar inside (for hunting).

A few hundred years ago, Old Windsor Wood became part of Windsor Great Park, and the ditch became meaningless to human visitors. It's easy to miss it now, amongst the brambles and ferns.

The deer don't miss it; deep, muddy hoof prints appear at clearer parts of the pale where they've jumped across. Their narrow paths then wiggle gently through the trees, off into the wood.

Plants and animals share the same textures and forms. Decaying logs surrounded by rough, brown bracken might be resting stags; angular branches might be antlers.  It's easy to see them where they aren't and to miss them where they are.

What a tree looks like

Deeper into the park, the woods and managed landscape become something like working countryside. Hedges surround fields and lanes run between them. The Ordnance Survey map names these fields Deepstrood. I stopped to draw here and for the first time began to understand the shapes trees make.

Looking at something from a single point, it is really only possible to see in two dimensions. I may see the effects of three dimensionality, but the result - like a photograph - is a flat image. I've described the trees I saw in two dimensions.

Each tree begins as a single branch pointing upwards from the ground. At a certain point it divides to become two branches. Each branch continues to divide by two at intervals that become shorter each time. At each interval, the tree therefore develops twice as many branches. I don't know if each interval represents the same length of time, or by what ratio each interval is smaller than the last. These are things I would like to find out.

The branches grow outwards from their first division creating a fan shape. The ends of the branches touch an invisible arc, which is perhaps an ideal shape to absorb sunlight from all upwards directions, like an umbrella stopping drops of light from hitting the ground below. There are no leaves on the trees at this time of the year.

When a small number of trees grow closely together, rather than each forming individual arcs, they form one between them. The tree in the centre grows tallest, and those at the edge are shortest. Between them they are one giant tree, each taking responsibility for catching light from a different angle.

I had less energy to see new things for the rest of the walk, but I enjoyed watching things pass.


Richmond Hill Drawing

I want to make an image that records some of the shapes and textures found at the top of Richmond Hill. I've divided my image area into a 4x6 grid, which will form the basic structure of my composition.

The grid appeals to my tendency towards order and rhythm. It limits what would otherwise be an endless number of possibilities, and it removes the chance of settling on arbitrary positions.

I hope to achieve a positive tension between the formality of these areas and the organic shapes and textures that fill them.



These are barriers designed to protect their secret interiors with plain, unrevealing textures. Do not use or visit this space.

Richmond (bricks)