Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Interfaith Week Sketches

These are really rather overdue.

They are from back in November, when I asked if I could attend the lunchtime talks organised by Newcastle University's Chaplaincy. These were to provide an opportunity to learn more about the smaller faiths present on campus : those which were not widespread enough to have their own dedicated week.

I found each of these faiths, and each of these talks, both stimulating and sympathetic.

The sort of person from a religious faith group who is willing to turn up to listen to those from other (rival?) faiths is often the best sort of person from a religious faith group. The opposite of a bigot. So I put my own beliefs aside for an hour each day and doodled the speaker.

Monday: Baha'ai

Tuesday: Ismaili

Wednesday: Jewish, Christian & Muslim

 Thursday: Sikh

Friday: Pagan

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Pictish Mail Art, Viking Mail Art

Mail Art is a poncey term for a great idea: something both inclusive and boundless in its possibility.

When travelling, I always buy the local newspaper - the more local the better. It gives you an insight into what's actually happening in real places, which national papers simply do not do. In 2013, I have discovered, the local papers show the real consequences of the cuts agenda to people's hometowns : things being sold off in Dundee, schools shutting in Aberdeen, the waiting room at the bus station being closed in Lerwick. 

(I really hate this millionnaire's government that we have right now. It's so brutally toff-ish and evil that it seems like we're living through a pantomime, hard to take seriously. But that's not the topic of this post):

I was in Dundee and I found this cutting. 

Great! Today! I have an hour before meeting my friend (& host), now where the hell's this weird-sounding college? I asked around and got some very friendly guides hopelessly pointing me in the right direction, right building, right door, wrong floor, over the internal bridge, down a floor, 


"I'm er just looking for ..."

"oh you're doing a mail art project too?" 

"No this one's by school children?" 

"Oh that way, great"


- and so sweaty and bewildered I found it, in one of the nice old wooden-lined corridors they have in that old arts building. I'd never have spotted it if I was just rushing past. It is lovely when you find a gem in the middle of an unfamiliar warren like this.

 I had to be speedy by this point but I loved the range; the expression; the colour; the sense of experimentation - and the fact that they had broken out of their own little circle of friends; their own familiar school; their own instruction & sketchpad and risked throwing out their attempts at whatever 'art' is meant to be, to strangers. 

And then I had to run 

"which way's the door?"


"oh also - what's your address so i can send you a postcard?"

And so I had an address to add, to my collection of people who I'd asked if they fancied a postcard from Shetland (half of them people I'd not met before). I'm still to send half of these now I'm home, and up in Lerwick I also ran out of time to draw or ink over the envelopes (this is because I spent all my time drawing my diary, which I will scan and share a bit later). 

I found some bargain-bin greetings cards half the price of postcards, added them to some naked shetland ones I'd picked up in a knick-nack shop, got given a couple more that my travelling companions found funny, and amongst the scrawls I did, is one very quick sketch of my legs (on the beach at St Ninians isle) that is actually one of my favourite drawings that I have ever done. Here it is :


I would never have rushed out such a quick clean sketch if if weren't for racing to make things to post. In fact I couldn't even bear to part with it fully, so I ended up sending that card to my mum and dad, optimistic that they would keep hold of it, for me to reclaim in future months!

So in this way I have ducked out of perhaps the greatest challenge and risk that (hypocritically) I think is the best thing about mail art - that it HAS to go through the postal system and risk the smudging, creasing, stamping, wetting and getting lost that that journey involves. Putting it in an envelope, as I (partly) and several of the schoolkids did, is a bit of a cop-out that I am not, in this case, ashamed to make public!

Unfinished lists.

I was going to make a big list of all the ideas, projects, works-in-progress and promised things that I haven't finished or got round to yet.

But then I didn't get round to it. 

One more for the list.