Drafting was an exploratory series of two-day performance events in the gallery space at Baltic 39. The public performances (including durational works) were programmed to take place between 5pm-8pm. Communal breakfast, soup for lunch and an evening meal was cooked by the organisers (Mike Collier, Sandra Johnston and Curator Esen Kaya) and provided a time and space for conversations to develop naturally. The project brought together twenty three artists and students to investigate a range of approaches to drawing through performance, and to drawing as a performative process.

A draft is generally understood as the preliminary outline of an idea – a text or image that by its nature is malleable and subject to change through a series of adjustments. Where drawing is concerned the term implies developmental phases, including aspects of abstraction in the making of plans, diagrams, signs and notations. Perhaps, the term can even, by extension, be used to articulate ideas of encoded behaviours; it signals how a sense of emergence hovers around the act and concept of drawing, the potential for gaining access to imagined ideas or extracting directly from actual situations; it suggests multiple ways that through drawing it is possible to create physical evidence of both external and embodied circumstances.

Drafting took place on the 19th/20th of March. It was largely self-funded by those involved and the artists received no fee for their participation, but took part because they were enthusiastic about the idea of creating a working environment that placed themselves and students from Foundation through to PhD on a level playing field. The event was an overwhelming success with good audiences on both nights – audiences who lingered afterwards to talk to the artists and students – always a good sign!

The aim of Drafting was to create an environment where consideration of the potential imbedded in the act of drawing as well as communication through drawing could encourage reflection on ideas such as:

  • how the body can be both receptive to and implicated in the sensorial handling of materials, marking time through ritualistic engagement.
  • how actions developed as drawings can often be understood as acts of territorialisation, involving issues of duration and the perceptible expenditure of energy
  • how the ritualised quality of an artist’s actions might be considered irrelevant as a performative strategy and replaced by methodologies that use wider cultural contexts as material for both drawing and performance.
  • how it might be possible to achieve ‘not performing’ – with all the slippage and inconsistency which that entails.

A limited edition, hand printed brochure, published by the University of Sunderland’s Foundation Press by students from Sunderland was available free of charge to members of the audience.

Artists and students (PhD; MFA; Degree and Foundation students) include:

Alastair MacLennan (artist)

Sandra Johnston (curator of project and co-organiser)

Victoria Gray (artist)

Denys Blacker (artist and PhD student)

Sally Madge (artist)

Nathan Walker (artist and PhD student)

Gillian Dyson (artist and PhD student)

Lee Hassell (artist and PhD student)

Ricky James (MFA student)

Debbie Guinnane (MFA student)

Helen Shaddock (MFA student)

Rene Mcbrearty (MFA student)

Markos Sotiriou (MFA student)

Izzy Kroese (Foundation student)

Dionne Mombeyarara (Foundation student)

Jamie Ellis Clark (MFA student)

Rachel Errington (MFA student)


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