An Eight-hour drawing

About two weeks ago I tried something that I hadn’t ever tried before. I sat down for eight hours in front of a mirror and I drew my self-portrait, every 5 minutes (96 in total). I’ve never drawn for eight hours straight and I’ve never drawn myself before. I decided that eight hours would be a good time, representing the idea of the working day. I also deliberately picked a short amount of time to do each drawing and drew on a scroll of paper. I had hoped limiting myself to 5 minutes would train me to quickly and without too much thought capture what was in front of me.

I’d initially thought of the idea in response to a assignment that I was given. It involved the concept of ‘dysgraphia’ which crudely means not copying or drawing something exactly as you see it; in a sense deliberately messing things up. I thought if I drew for eight hours what I was thinking about and what I was feeling would feed directly into the drawing and create this dysgraphic drawing. That certainly was true. But what was more interesting was the self reflection that happened after I had finished. It wasn’t until I was photographing the portraits the next day that I realised what had happened. The drawing was more about what I ‘think’ I look like rather than the actual drawing. Amusingly, I obviously think I’m a cross between my Oma and Harpo Marx. The artist Mike Parr talks about the repetition of images (portraits) becoming anonymous and impersonal. I really noticed the gradual disconnect between my reflection in the mirror and the idea that it was me.

I could go on with my reflections of the experience, but the self-portraits speak for themselves.

Saturday 18th of April, 9 am to 5 pm

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