‘The days roll by’ for Line of Thought – 80cm x 300cm, black acrylic, brown paper

At the time of writing this post this drawing is finished, rolled up carefully, inserted into its cardboard roll, secured, sealed at each end, addressed, and posted, yesterday. It’s to arrive in 2 days from time of postage, all going well. I thought about couriering but given the recent hassle with couriers, my proximity to the post office, An Post won this one.

I now need a break from making and spending time with this piece. I can no longer tell if it has any resonance or not. I know I hugely enjoyed making it and experienced a mediative flow state at times while drawing. I deliberately did not map it out beforehand or do a pre-drawing- I wanted to just start on the left and keep going until it felt finished, and see how this way of working looked. I was hoping that the lack of planning and general immediacy (is this a word?) of making would be apparent. I wanted the days of January and February, which rolled by without definition or much structure, to be reflected in this drawing.

I wanted to use the scroll format as there is synchronicity between the continuous drawing containing elements of repetition within it, and the continuity of our days rolling on here during lockdown, a seemingly endless phase that all blurs into one, weekdays and weekends alike. Now this phase will soon come to an end as my two younger kids are going back to school next week so while we remain in lockdown level 5, there will at least be a more defined difference between weekdays and the weekend in our lives.

This is also why I use the distorted selfies as the basis for the drawing. For the last two months, having moved house in December, we have seen no friends, not one even from afar, and have not travelled outside of our 5k zone. We have mostly enjoyed rain, approx 60-70% of the time, and therefore have spent a lot of the time in the house. My kids have an ipad they share, and are only allowed to play games on it at the weekend. They have two games only, one of which is loud and grating, and the other is called Clumsy Ninja. I have no idea what CN is about, I only know what I hear as they crouch over the screen- that its a relatively (compared to the other one they play) calm game with softer, more harmonious bleeping noises than the other game, and they seem less frenetic when they play it. One of my kids takes photos of himself with the character from the game, which pop up in my photo app as my phone is linked to their tablet, which is why I even know who the character Clumsy Ninja is. He presents himself to me on my screen.

There are recurring symbols within the drawing- in particular,

clumsy ninja- explained as above

The butterfly- there was a butterfly trapped in our garage sporadically bashing itself against the window for a few days. We tried to free it by leaving the garage door open but it wouldn’t or couldn’t work out how to fly out. It seemed to symbolise the oppressiveness of January and February 2021 of lockdown to me.

Ivy leaves- these popped up through the twisted ivy trunks visible in the hedges which are everywhere in this part of the country. (County Clare). I observed that in the hedges around here there are currently fewer leaves and lots of twisted trunks and vines as opposed to more leaves and less trunk. Seemed to me to symbolise the time of year we are in.

Cursive writing – my youngest kid turned 6 recently and hates doing his writing homework. He approaches his writing exercises like each letter is a completely new form that he has never encountered before and sees no reason why there should be any uniformity when rendering the letters. I am interested in the experimental flair he employs within his cursive writing endeavours. I took photos of some of the words from his writing homework, which spell it/bit/pit/hit/fit/sit and placed them across the drawing, so as to visually pull the viewer across the drawing. I drew the letters large so as to not allow them to be too recognisable when close to the image, however if you stand back from it you are more likely to see what they are. The distorted faces are arranged mostly in opposite diagonal pathways to the writing- this brings the eye upwards through the work.

The main drawing is constructed from a series of drawings of photos my kids take of themselves on their ipad, which is connected to my phone. So whenever I open my photos on my phone I find a slew of distorted selfies of my kids. They LOVE doing this. As said before, these provide me with insight into how they, my kids, see the world. The idea of using these photos, which are visually interesting to me, as a basis upon which to make a drawing came about as they, these selfies, symbolise the present time. They represent lockdown, pandemic, being at home, being bored, not seeing people, placing extra importance in using devices as there’s less options of stuff to do. Visually I am interested in the distortion and the new perspectives, and I tried to make them fit together in some places, like jigsaw pieces.

The other element I used are the branches and twigs which move across the drawing. When I go out for a walk here where I live, I see these very severely cut hedgerows, obviously a machine has come alongside and just cropped off the top and sides of them, revealing the structure within. Around here these inner reveals of the hedges are gnarled and twisted, with ivy frequently growing through them. I am always stopping and looking at the shapes the branches make, against each other and against the sky.

Essentially I have realised this drawing is a visual representation of the compressed, compacted, claustrophobic time we have spent at home together and a kind of love song to my kids, how they have navigated lockdown, with their particular brand of unique humour and acceptance, and our shared experiences as a group of people in one house. The drawing is called ‘The days roll by’. I am really looking forward to seeing it installed in the show.