SHATTERED BOOKS (drawings)
My work is a kind of archive or visual inventory compiled of drawings to collate and cross reference different kinds of information. Much of my time is spent amassing documents, unfathomable documents that I feel drawn to preserve. It is hard to convey in words what my intention is, or what conclusions may be drawn when all this data is brought together. The project seems epic, relentless, varied and never boring.
Although I’ve included some examples in this digital archive, the material body of work keeps on growing so this is not comprehensive documentation. Each of the pencil drawings is a size-for-size copy of the source text or image. You may come across the odd painting – admittedly painted in pretty much the same way I draw. The works typically float on paper that is 100 x 70 cm. Occasionally I break this habit – usually when a sketch becomes something to be included in an exhibition or publication. Or just sometimes I can be lucky enough to catch something fleeting or incomplete that emerges on whatever paper is closest to hand.
When I have an idea I try to get it down as quickly as possible. I draw the thing out, copying, amending, colliding elements together to create threads that lead works to communicate with one another or allow sibling relationships to become visible. Many of the works are the result of transitory thoughts fixed in passing and I often do not fully understand my findings or their place in the archive until some time has passed. Following Walter Benjamin’s idea of a work composed entirely of quotations in which the elements may be moved and realigned, knowledge is organised in fragments and scraps. The counter project to this, which may never actually be achieved, would be something completed, concentrated and indexed.
Walter Benjamin, whose peripatetic life situation made stable conditions for writing impossible, described his works on scraps of paper as ‘shattered books’. He recognised the artistic potential of such a method that could be filed or indexed:
‘For everything that matters is to be found in the card box of the researcher who wrote it, and the scholar studying it assimilates it into his own index’.
 Walter Benjamin’s Archive, p.32, Verso (2007), ed. Esther Leslie