A year or so ago I decided that I was fed up with dragging my past around with me - literally, in the form of boxes full of old papers, drawings, letters, various artefacts I'd brought with me from bedsit to flat to house, decades of sentimental attachment, boxed away for contemplation on some future date which, every time I came across one of these boxes, seemed less and less likely to arrive.
So I decided to get rid of some of this stuff, and I burnt a fair amount of it. It was cathartic, yes, but in amongst all that baggage there were one or two things which had special value, that I knew that I would never get rid of. They are of no significance to anyone else.
Earlier in 2014 I undertook a drawing for a charity auction, based around the idea of Recollection. I posted a photograph on twitter of some houses half hidden amongst trees and asked people to write a brief response to it. I had such amazing replies that I decided I really wanted to undertake more projects involving twitter users.
I was 'chilling in my creative space' (the loo) not so long ago when I realised I really wanted to make a drawing using photos of things sent to me by twitter users, the idea being that I would isolate the relevant element and draw it.
I thought the objects could be random or specific, full of resonance or literally rubbish. Maybe I could make a series of these drawings, gradually assembling collections of objects supplied by twitter users. I had a vision of myriad small coloured drawings on a white background, annotated with no more than a username, but that there would be a web page where you could see the back stories if you so wished, find out who these people were. The human connections would expand outwards from the drawing.
So I tweeted the following:
“Tweet me a picture of a thing/object you have kept from childhood. I will draw it and add it to a big picture. Use hashtag #mooseobject1”
I hadn't quite anticipated how many entries I would receive – about 150 I think - or what that would mean in terms of drawing. I hmmed and hahed (sp?) wondering whether to draw them in my default style, a sort of wobbly line black and white sketch, but decided in the end to follow my initial instinct which was to draw them digitally on a tablet, using a technique called rotoscoping, which is effectively tracing from the photograph.
One of the things I love about this project is the way that those who contribute become a sort of community. They are connected, briefly, through having been on twitter at the right time and having the desire to contribute. The tweets are all here on Storify, so you can see the original photos and the little stories that accrue to them. Together they build a bigger picture.
I also love the fact that someone (me) is taking the time to look at these highly personal artefacts, to stare at them, examine them, draw them. And while I'm doing that I'm thinking about the person it belongs to, most of them strangers, some of them people I know to some extent through twitter. But I like the fact that someone who is ostensibly a stranger to their childhood giving a bit of time to these personal items, contemplating them, looking for clues. That's another way the contributors are all connected. I realise it's a personal thing for me, but linking these things to the internet breathes a new life into them, honours them, in a sense. I'm sure people will look at the photos, my drawings of them, read the tweets about them, and find something universal and deeply human in them. That's my hope, anyway.
Well, I've started now and I've realised this project is going to take me a while. I'm just going to keep plugging away at it when I can. And rather than waiting until it's all done which could be who knows when, I thought I'd let you see a little bit of what I've done. I'll post updates occasionally.
So far I have worked on the objects of @ShazzaB, @The_No_Show, @thisheregiraffe, @tubeway, @axolotl74, @lizwug and @thistler. More to come… soon, I hope!