Keele Hall

12-13 October 2015

Taking inspiration from traditional Kolem designs drawn by Hindu women of South India, this research project culminated in a video and a live drawing performance both of which were shown during a two day post-graduate conference at Keele University.

The video work records the drawing of a series of simple kolam designs around a basic grid of dots; once each image is completed the board is wiped clean and the process begins again suggesting a cycle of infinite possibilities. Dot to Dot puts the system on display and reveals the process of making yet unlike the swift and confident movements of the Indian women the artist's hand is hesitant; where to place the chalk, which direction to take it and how to navigate the dots. The chalk squeaks, scrapes and snaps clumsily over the board, mistakes are made and hesitations are shared with the viewer. A layering effect begins to occur on the chalk board as patterns are rubbed out and worked over, a palimpsest of possibilities with the ghosting of what went before recorded on the surface of the board. 

The live drawing performance took place at the entrance to Keele Hall on three one metre square blackboard panels; like the traditional kolem drawings, the intention here was that they would act as a sign of welcome todelegates arriving for the conference  Although still a little awkward, with visual notes never far from hand, there were moments when the chalk line began to flow freely, finding its own rhythm; up, down around, like the steps of a dance, ‘…drawing as akin to dancing, and the design as a kind of frozen residue left by this manual ballet…” (Gell, 1998:95).