Monthly Archives: November 2011

2 Keynote Speakers Announced for Drawing Out 2012: John Harding and Professor Mark Burry

John Harding

John Harding is one of Australia’s leading playwrights, with eleven productions staged and /or broadcast here and abroad.He is the founding member of Ilbijerri ATSI Theatre Cooperative (Melbourne), and a tireless worker in the struggle to create a space for Indigenous people on the Australian Stage. Harding wrote “Up The Road” for Ilbijerri’s first production, and went on to win the Australian Human Rights Award, for its second extended production and national tour in 1997, toured nationally by Belvoir Theatre and directed by Neil Armfield. Harding directed his last three major productions: “Enuff at the Malthouse” (2002), “No Parking” (2001) at Theatreworks, and “Second Helping”(2005), at North Melbourne’s Arts House.

Harding is also an accomplished performer, co-writing and co-starring in “Blak and Tran II” (2004) with Hung Le, and “Natives Striking Blak” (2007) for Ilbijerri Theatre. He has worked in television for the ABC’s “Blackout” show, and SBS’s “ICAM Program. He has also written a book of poetry published in 1994 by Dynamo House. During his time at SBS John created the first Indigenous comedy show, “The Masters”, directed by Michael Riley.

Harding has recently moved into film and has made three documentaries, “Nganampa Manta” for the Pitjatjanjara people and “Fitzroy Stars” for Movie Mischief, both bought by Message Stick for ABC television. The third documentary short film was commissioned by City of Melbourne and called “Lets Talk Treaty” as a part of the 2011 Laneways Program.

Harding has lectured on Indigenous theatre in various universities and schools and works in the School of Global Studies, Social Science and Planning.

Abstract: Drawing as discovery!

Harding plans to develop a  paper on the nature of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander “drawing” in its traditional and contemporary senses. The way the traditional practices articulated land, space and place through the drawn mark – and rites, initiation, cultural practices etc. Drawing as discovery of land, lineage, family, weather, role of animals/birds etc – relate traditional to contemporary art and practices. The problems of European colonisation with colonisers bringing their own way of seeing land and space – different perspectives Aboriginal drawing from “looking down on land” perspective; European from “looking across land” perspective etc.

Professor Mark Burry

Professor Mark Burry has published internationally on two main themes: the life and work of the architect Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona, and putting theory into practice with regard to ‘challenging’ architecture; he has also published widely on broader issues of design, construction and the use of computers in design theory and practice.  As architect to the Temple Sagrada Família since 1979, Mark Burry has been a key member within the local design team based on site in Barcelona, untangling the mysteries of Gaudí’s compositional strategies for his greatest work, especially those coming from his later years, the implications of which only become apparent as they are resolved for building purposes. In 2004, in Professor Burry was awarded a ‘Diploma i la insignia a l’acadèmic corresponent’ with the title Il.lustrisim Senyor by the Reial Acadèmia Catalana de Belles Arts de Sant Jordi in recognition of his contribution to this project.

Abstract: Drawing out the model

We agree that motivation for drawing can range between a fine art perspective to more practical uses such as the representation of intentions and descriptions of undertakings.  At one end of the spectrum there is no presumption of practical utility whereas at the other the effectiveness and therefore value of the drawing will be determined by how unambiguously it communicates its message to others.  This is not to imply that there are different levels of importance or intellectual engagement between these opposites, but it does point to a set of understandings about drawing that inevitably calls on different sets of priorities depending on the intended end use of the drawing.  If a drawing is destined to framed to delight in the gallery that same drawing will offer a wholly different appeal if it were a study destined to inform the plastic experimentation leading to a sculpture.  It is curious that one word encompasses these two quite distinct poles and all that lies in between.

As viewers it is quite clear that we might not presume a single reading of a drawing, but seldom do we have the chance to expect more from a drawing beyond a single ostensible purpose.  The field where a sketch might have appeal both in the gallery and the studio is sculpture, but even when the innate beauty of a sketch leading to a sculpture is admired for its own sake, the fact that its title will almost inevitably point it to being a study for a sculpture may well colour its appreciation.  The gallery destined sketch is less common is architecture although many architects are happy to present their early thoughts – sketches – as drawings with artistic value separate if not actually beyond their original purpose.  One suspects for many mature signature architects the sketch might be their major drawn contribution in highly successful projects and understandably, they would wish its fundamental status be consolidated through exhibition or publication establishing its credentials as the primary distillation of what goes on to be a winning idea.

Where the architect assumes a sculptor’s approach – a strong formal element in the work for example – the simple dialectic between artistic delight and rich source of spatial and material information source becomes less straightforward.  Antoni Gaudí is a case in point.  Many are drawn to his work appreciating the degrees of difficulty he set himself and all those he collaborated with whether it be the structural bravura within his entire oeuvre, his consummate skill as a constructor, colourist, formalist, rationalist, geometer, planner, sculptor and artist.  Almost all his work begs the question “how did he get this done?”  Even his less unconventional work points to an intimate dialogue between architect and maker, indeed far more intimate that would have been common even for his generation.  We read accounts of how Gaudí, the son of a coppersmith, picked-up the tools himself in order to explain his intentions through active example; hardly the commonplace actions of worldly architects of that time whose drawings were far more redolent of opportunity for personal decision-making by the craftspeople charged with working from them.  Drawings then were intended to imply the outcome far more than the highly specific legal documents that architectural drawings have become today.

But just how important were drawings to Gaudí as a principal means to correspond with his builders?  We cannot be certain because what drawings that survived in his studio after his death in 1926 were destroyed when it was sacked and set on fire during the first year of the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War, and he wrote nothing at all about any aspect of his practice.  We are aware that his last twelve years were devoted to the Sagrada Família Church and that his principal design medium was plaster modelling and he was drawn to use only sets of intersecting highly evolved geometries having completely eschewed the freeform that had characterised much of his mature earlier work.  We know this through the virtually uninterrupted apprenticeship leading-up to the model makers working on site today.  The Passion Façade, still under construction today, is based not on a scale model like most of the rest of the building but on a drawing.  The drawing does not survive but a plate photograph of it does.  It is more than an ‘ordinary’ drawing, and certainly well beyond a sketch despite it including the essence of the sketch that was subsequently embellished with gouache and charcoal over a long period of time.  Could it be that for Gaudí the model was the drawing and that this key drawing of the Passion Façade, rather than being just an exception is the exception that proves an important point of difference between Gaudí and his peers, and probably every architect since?  Mark Burry has been collaborating with the Sagrada Família Church for over thirty years.  He is currently responsible for the design leadership to complete the Passion Façade, the Sala Creuer (the space above the crossing where the six principal towers join the main body of the church), and the main front (Glory Façade).  In his keynote address he will show that Gaudí always worked in more than three dimensions, and as a consequence ‘drawing’ (2 and 2½ D) and ‘modelling’ (3D) were somewhat constraining regardless of their artistic merits as cultural productions in their own right.  In understanding this like Gaudí we have to draw out from his models into a rather different sense of what drawing has to offer.

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