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June 1 - August 10 2009

Drawn Encounters: Translation and Interpretation


At the heart of my practice is the culture of re-interpretation and re-evaluation of experience through a sifting of the past and reverie within the present; and the use of drawing as a means of transformation and analysis. The act of transcription enables an exploration of the iconography and meaning, and understanding of the context as source material and related artefacts, and the establishment of a potential reading for the subjects of chosen images by other artists.


In order to understand this methodology, the students will enact this process and examine the role of transcription in the interpretation and translation of existing imagery in painting.


The students will visit the Museum of Australian Art (Fed. Square), armed with sketchbooks, pencils and erasers. They will view the collection, thinking about the narratives that lie behind the rendering of each image. Seeking images that portray an encounter. An encounter, that resonates with them individually. This encounter reflects their particular interest in relationships and the consequences on interaction, engagement and actions.


They each select one painting or drawing from the collection (one encounter) that they instinctively respond to. They draw in the gallery from this image, collecting information – size, date, title, medium, theme – who is it by and who was the picture made for; in what context, where, and why?


Through drawing directly from the chosen image, they understand how another artist has composed and made decisions within a particular painting or drawing, enabling contemplation of meaning and the impact of an image by absorbing the type of image method used and overall feeling and atmosphere. By drawing they reflect on the pictorial construction, the syntax of the image. They understand something of the flow of the artist’s thoughts, their hand and capacity to depict an event, an encounter, something human. The sketchbooks are used to record thoughts, notes and annotated drawn descriptions of what is in front of them. They return to the studio, along with their first hand and initial interpretations, a postcard, a reproduction, or a photograph of their chosen painting.


Seeking further information, researching this particular image, the artist, it’s history, its subject and content; reflection on this material, and consideration of what they have found is critical to the transposition of this growing body of knowledge into a sequence of drawings developed from these findings. They translate their response to their chosen image and the contextual information they have found and absorbed, working from the reproduction of the original image, from the information in their sketchbook, from their thoughts, connections and reveries on the subject, content and form of their selected image.


The practice of quoting from other artists has an elegant lineage, and a good example would be the relationship of Giorgione’s Concert Champêtre (c1510), Raphael’s Judgment of Paris (c1513) (itself adapted from two sarcophagus reliefs) and Raimondi’s contemporary engraving, to Manet’s Déjeuner sur l’Herbe (1863) and Picasso’s later versions of this subject (1960-61).


The resultant drawings are then exhibited in the Project Space alongside the source image, a textual statement about the source image, why it was chosen choice and a reflection of the outcome of translation, interpretation and drawing.



Contributing RMIT Drawing Students:


Mitchell Brannan (Albrecht Durer, Celestial Map Of The Southern Sky (Imagines Coeli Meridionales), 1515)

Clare Collins (James Quinn, ’Infanta Marie Marguerite (After Diego Velazquez), C. 1895)

Peta Glenn (Colin Colahan, Dr John Dale, 1934)

Dylan Hammond (Hugh Ramsay, Jeanne, 1901)

Malcolm Lloyd (Mathew Jones, Diary 13-16 November 2000, 2000)

Reiko Miyazawa (Joseph Turner, E. R. Morris (Lithographer) Nebula Argus (Plate 8 From Observations Of The Southern Nebulae Made With The Great Melbourne Telescope 1869-1885), 1875)

Debra Neylon (Sir John Longstaff, The Young Mother, 1891)

Chloe Vallance (Arthur Streeton, Scheherazade, 1895)

Kathy Westfold (Ruth Johnstone, Untitled (Terra Incognita), 1993)

Deborah Williams (John Perceval, Boy With A Kite, Fitzroy, 1943)


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