The Vertical Grids, and Viviana - Autumn 2007

The dominant form of Autumn 2007 is the 4-part vertical grid. When most successful, it leans gently into the wind, so as to keep on going. And it brings to mind the processional friezes from ancient Greece, complete with the split down the middle.

Understanding my work as movement in time has lead naturally to the collaboration with Viviana. The connection between her classical dance and my work is fundamental. Both derive from those classical proportions which in turn find their origin in the body.

Matthias and the Meteorite - 2007

On the 7th of September, in time for my birthday, my meteorite landed in London: this was not by chance, but rather by design, as I had requested this present from Matthias.(1) 

At his home in Bavaria I had admired Matthias’s meteorites, displayed among his other works of art. Most striking, at first, was the way their carved, grid-like structures related to their surroundings.

But it was their conditions of origin – the fact that they were formed under conditions of near-zero gravity, over time – that mattered most. And so I asked for one, thinking that by placing such a structure beside my prints and drawings at the Redfern, something really useful might be shown.

The visual connections could be seen at a glance: all these carved, grid-like surfaces were so similar.

What I hoped, though, was that the viewer might grab hold of their shared quality of weightlessness: for just as the meteorite had acquired its structure under conditions of near-zero gravity, over time, so my work aspires to these conditions.

(1) Matthias Bärmann, writer, curator, friend, collector of meteorites. At his home in Bavaria, I admired his ‘garden of meteorites,’ displayed among his other works of art (including three of my drawings). See his essay ‘Drawing, the embodiment of action’ in McCully, Measure Without Measure, and his essay in the catalogue to the exhibition, ‘August Form 2002’ at Galerie Werner Klein, Cologne, 2003.

Slow Learner 1–32 - 2007

“trial and error           we find the centre” (1)

My first concern in addressing these copper plates was to find the centre. Thinking of Beckett, and of Michelangelo, too, I used those ‘compasses in [my] eyes,’ as recommended. (2) I failed, of course, but next time failed better. And I thought of Eva Hesse, and “that certain pleasure of proving [myself] against perfection”.(3)

Most characteristic of this project, though, was the way I tried to integrate into my work on the plate exactly what I observed in the proofing: I thought that if I, too, could ‘square up’ my plate, and my body; if I could maintain consistent pressure on my graver; and if I could ‘roll’ through the plate with fluidity and ease, then not only would I get a good drawing/gravure, but there would be a nice integrity between the making and the production of the prints.

With my stance wide open now – right leg forward, the left leg poised behind – I hoped to add spring to my lines. Real control sets in only on the fourth day: thus the title of the suite Slow Learner.

(1) Tamar Yoseloff, ‘Marks’, a poem based on the works of Linda Karshan. Published in the artist’s book, Marks, in collaboration with Linda Karshan (Pratt Editions, 2007), and in the author’s collection Fetch (London: Salt Publishing, 2007).

(2) Vasari’s ‘Life of Michelangelo’. Michelangelo said that one should have compasses in one’s eyes, not in one’s hands, because the hand executes but it is the eye which judges.

(3) Lucy Lippard, Eva Hesse (New York: Da Capo, 1992), p. 142.

Summer 2007 - Part II

Tommy writes that I’m a keen swimmer. Yes. I begin each day swimming in the pond – weightless, my body suspended in water. And as I navigate my way through the pond, always breaststroking, I count, and mark out, those same rhythms I’ll continue in the studio.

Swimming, I’d think about the symmetry of my body, and of the human skeleton. And I thought of Saul Bellow’s words: “the universe was inscribed into our very bones. That the human skeleton was itself a hieroglyph.”(1) Looking up the definition of hieroglyph, I was thrilled to learn that, coming from the Greek, HIERO means ‘sacred,’ while GLYPHEN means ‘to carve’. It’s a Greek Thing.(2)

(1) Saul Bellow, ‘Something To Remember Me By’, in Collected Stories (2001).

(2) Linda Karshan, ‘The Greek Thing’ in the exhibition ‘Constellation and Chance’, October 2004

Summer 2007 - In the wake of Copenhagen

(1)These drawings followed in the wake of Copenhagen. Making prints there, between 21-28 June, required endurance and concentration, in the extreme.

This I transported to Connecticut. In my summer studio, positioned upon a square rubber mat (an idea also ‘lifted’ from Copenhagen), I picked up where I had left of. And I kept in mind, too, the way I had integrated into my work on the copperplate exactly what I’d observed in the proofing: on paper, I continued to square up my body, and my sheet on the table; to keep consistent pressure on my graphite; and to roll through my sheet as smoothly as possible.(2) 

So smooth had I become that the excellent alignment of these newest forms surprised me. Comparing them to my earlier ‘figures’ on view at the Tang Museum, (3) so charming with their exaggerated lean, I wondered at this difference of stance.

I soon recognised it to be – quite directly – a marking out of my change of stance: in Autumn 2005, in order to take my longer lines more gracefully through my sheet, I had opened up my posture at the table.(4) Since then, I stand with my right leg striding forward, and the left leg poised behind. Always upright and alert, I move more freely through the sheet, while drawing out these ever-straighter forms.

NOTE: There will, however, always be a lean to my figures. Guided only by natural forces, they cannot but follow “the path taken by the soul of [this] dancer.”(5)

(1) Between 21 and 28 June, 2007, I made 32 new dry-points in Copenhagen with Niels Borck-Jenser. The title of the suite is SLOW LEARNER and it is published by Jean-Yves Noblet Contemporary Prints, New York.

(2) See SLOW LEARNER, my text on this project.

(3) From 18 May to 12 August, my work featured in ‘Alumni Invitational 2’, Tang Museum, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY. This selection of drawings included work made between 1993 and 2005.

(4) See studio jotting, ‘The New York Tour, Autumn 2005’.

(5) Heinrich von Kleist, ‘On the Marionette Theatre’ (1810), translated by Idris Parry, in Essays on Dolls (London: Syrens, 1994). Also see Linda Karshan and Marilyn McCully in McCully, Measure Without Measure, pp. 55–59

Transcribed notes from Copenhagen, on Slow Learner - 21–26 June 2007

Real control slowly, but surely appears on the 4th day of work. The line looks after itself, so I can move freely. With grace.

21/6/07 - (2 QUADS KEPT) 

Just moving the body through the plate. With attention. Locating the centre, or trying to.

22/6/07 - (4 IMAGES KEPT)

Watching the proofing, and learning from it.

I. Line up the plate

II. Steady pressure

III. Fluid movement over/through the plate

I tried to emulate these proofing principles, and then integrate them into my ‘method’. (I have a ‘method,’ but no plan!)


24/6/07 - (6 IMAGES KEPT)

So now I can move around my plate with a method, but no plan. 8 images (later edited to 6)

Fluid movement, gaining control of the process.

25/6/07 - (14 IMAGES KEPT)

8 + 6 images. Real control now. Slow Learner (for the first time in print, the 4-part vertical form, and 8-part NEW FORM).

26/6/07 - (6 IMAGES KEPT)

6 Winners. Good, steady line. Clean. On a clear day: 27–32 SLOW LEARNER.

Finding the Centre: Dante, Beckett, and Michelangelo - 6 June 2007

“I am as the centre of the circle, to which all parts of the circumference stand in equal relation; you, however, are not so.” Dante, Vita Nuova XII, lines 21–22

Thus Love, in the form of an angel, declares perfection to be his preserve, in the symbolic form of the compass. Te poet, by contrast, must content himself with “circling round this place [the centre], whatever its shape and extent may be” (Samuel Beckett, The Unnamable).

Earlier in Beckett’s novel, the Unnamable had declared that he “likes to think he occupies the centre, but nothing could be less certain”. No. All he and the other mortals can be sure of is that “from centre to circumference… is a far cry, and [he] may well be situated between the two”.

A far cry, indeed. So far, in fact, that to get this measurement wrong spelled disaster for Michelangelo, in Rome. Now 81 years old, he was called back to that city to rescue his three-part vault over St. Peter’s. While he had made a model of the vault to ensure accuracy of construction, its completion was left to less remarkable artists, for whom Michelangelo’s complex and intuitive design was “beyond belief”.

“Instead of a vault with a single centre… There should have been a great number [of centres]. And the circles and squares that come in the middle of their deepest parts [the vaults] have to diminish and increase in so many directions, and to go to so many points, that it is difficult to find a true method.” (1)

Michelangelo knew, as Peirce put it, that by “supposing the rigid exactitude of causation to yield… we gain room to insert mind [or intuition] into our scheme.” (2) Rather than a geometric correctness, he sought an “overall harmony of grace…”, one that even “nature might not present.” (3) And so he recommended that the artist should have compasses in his eyes, not in his hands, because the hand executes, but it is the eye which judges. (4)

(1) These comments are distilled from Vasari’s ‘Life of Michelangelo’

(2) C. S. Peirce, ‘The Doctrine of Necessity Examined’ (1892), in Nathan Houser and Christian Kloesel, eds., The Essential Peirce (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1992), p. 309.

(3) Vasari.

(4) ibid.

Spring 2007: A Sound Piece for Amina - 4 June 2007

“Do start. By the sound of it.” – LK, Jottings

Drawing is “to follow the sound.”(1) Since August 2002 I became especially alert to the sounds of my drawing. I noticed that if I concentrate on them, I might better stay in pace and in place, and enter that trance-like state so crucial to the work.

These sounds are diverse: there’s the sound of the mark-making itself, both on the paper as well as on the table. (The rhythm is even punched into the air, though this is silent, except in my mind!)

Then there’s the sound of the paper swishing round, and the violent sound of those discarded works as they hit the studio floor.

Most important, though, are the sounds of my feet: there’s the foot-tapping as I stand ‘at the ready’ at my table, and the sound of me marching, or even shuffling around my studio, always to the beats in my head (and body). I can count on them – and I do: they insure that I ‘go on and get on,’ as directed.

This march/shuffle is absolutely quad-like: 1–2–3–4–5–6–7–8– turn. Repeat. Then, at the ‘appointed time,’ I’ll take up my position at the table. (2) 

Here, the rhythms get worked out on the sheet, exactly as I experience them. In the past they were short, and percussive: it sounded like I was ‘beating the drums’. Now, the counts are longer-held, and so, too, are the lines that draw them out.

(1) Linda Karshan, in conversation with Matthias Bärmann, in the catalogue to the exhibition, ‘August Form 2002’ at Galerie Werner Klein, Cologne, 2003.

(2) This summer, 2007, I even positioned myself upon a square, QUAD-like rubber mat, so as to cushion my legs against the concrete floor. The tapping sounds produced here were very assertive.

Eight × 8 moves - Winter 2006/Spring 2007

“Where 1000 variations of three simple movements fill up the time between train and train.” Hugh Kenner, on Beckett.

And so it happened. On the 27th and 28th of February, while making prints at Pratt Editions, in Kent, three simple movements filled up my time between arrival and departure by train.

Down-up-turn, down-up-turn, repeated 8 times for each work. Once I’d succeeded with the special-edition print, twenty further images followed, each the result of those ‘three simple movements’. (1)

Out of twenty, eight were selected to become a portfolio, entitled Eight Moves (2007). And the form? It’s a vertical rectangle divided once down the centre. Or nearly: according to my intuitive self.

(1) This print is called Eight Moves. It accompanies the special edition of Marks, the artist’s book by Linda Karshan and Tamar Yoseloff, published by Pratt Contemporary Art, 2007

Proportional Beauty, and Action - Autumn 2006

“a body in motion is a body in thought…”(1)

Leonardo was looking for vital form, and analogy. He was constantly searching for a universal system of proportion that would explain the fundamental workings of forces. Further, he was the first to tie the artist’s notion of proportional beauty into the wider setting of proportional action of all the powers in nature. (2) 

Proportional action is at the core of my being; it determines all that I do. From my mind, where I experience proportion as numbers and rhythms, through my body onto the sheet, proportional beauty gets marked out. In this way I show that man can be measured, and that my measure is my reach as performed in real time.



1. Martin Herbert, ‘To See a Body Think: three essays on the work of Pina Bausch, Merce Cunningham and Karole Armitage’. Modern Painters, December 2006–January 2007, pp. 100–07.

2. These thoughts were distilled from ‘Renaissance Man’, a book review by Adam Gopnick, in The New Yorker, 17 January 2005, pp. 82–86. One of the books reviewed was by Martin Kemp, whose exhibition of Leonardo’s drawings at the V&A, September–December 2006, was very much in mind that autumn.

Two Clear Days - Summer 2006

On the 17th and 18th of August, complexity re-entered the work: more movement of my body, remembered there, elaborated itself on the sheet.

But these forms were somehow heightened – even punctuated – as these complex marks-and-moves had learned a lot! Tracking out these smarter moves felt precarious, in the extreme: it was as if nothing was by chance, and yet everything was by chance. (2) I was breathless to get it right down on the page. It helped, though, that these clearer days were also rather cool: with my fan turned of I could better hear, and listen, to the sound of my work. “Listen. Just Listen”.(3) And in that way the rhythm took hold. And it kept me “in that state of perhaps real trance, in which the mind liberated from the pressure of the will is unfolded in symbols”.(4)

1. On a Clear Day, 1973. The title of a suite of prints by Agnes Martin. Matthias Bärmann referred to it in the context of my work, saying, “On a clear day. That’s Linda Karshan weather” (Galerie Biedermann, April 2006).

2. I said this in my artist’s statement, ‘The Assigned Figure, or “existence is a curve”’ in McCully, Measure Without Measure.

3. Studio jottings, ‘Flashing Conviction, Summer 2004’ (6/08/04).

4. Yeats, ‘On the Symbolism of Poetry’. First quoted by me in a footnote in ‘The Greek Thing,’ and thereafer in my jottings

Spring 2006

“It’s a question of something that happens, almost a routine, and it is this dailiness and this materiality… that need to be brought out.”(1)

Forms ‘show up’, then shift in obedience to my intuitive sense. Here’s “what mind and body can do”.(2) And heart.

1. Beckett, in notes to his German direction of Waiting for Godot.

2. Matthias Bärmann, in his opening remarks to the 15th-anniversary exhibition at Galerie Biedermann, Munich, April 2006.


Winter Statement - 30 March 2006

My practice is not about reduction. The increasingly simple, yet complex, forms in the work are a marking out, in time, of an inner choreography: I draw out the numbers and rhythms as directly as possible. Changes in form are nothing but shifts of choreography.

“Dance is an action AND a thing.” Charles Olson, 25 May 1952, in a letter to Merce Cunningham

The New York Tour - Autumn 2005

I arrived in N.Y. like a dancer on tour with my body, my mind, and choreography in-scribed. (1) But the ‘theatre’ was new, as was the stage to be ‘set,’ and so certain adjustments were made. Standing upright and alert at my new table, or stage, I quickly adjusted my stance: “Every movement in the studio must be [graceful].”(2) And “all true grace is economical”.(3)

My movements had become less than graceful – even cramped – as my short upper-torso was not long enough to see my now longer lines through in one arc.(4) So I resumed a stance first taken in July 2004 when, also presented with a new table/ stage, I secured my position by placing one foot behind the other, gaining extension and spring in my moves. (5)

Now my ‘swing’ has become more like rock’n’roll: I begin by rocking backwards, then forwards, or downwards, then upwards, through the first two repetitions of the line. Repetitions three and four are yet more dynamic as I roll right through the centre of my line.

That first line is performed ‘on the flat,’ as it were: both flat-footed, but also flat-leaded as I hold my pencil sideways, thus producing a flatish, widish mark. Then, rising onto my toes, ‘en pointe’ over the work, I also lift my pencil point to a loftier position on the sheet. Thus poised and concentrated, I proceed to bisect that first line. Just as Apelles claimed to do.(6) “There are so few [movements], but so many variations.” (7) The variety is assured by the subtle shifts in choreography, according to my intuitive sense. Judgement follows, measured always with those compasses in the eyes: that I may receive what I have brought forth, and “so bring forth as [my] intuitive sense aspires to receive”.

1. My choreography is not only written, or in-scribed: it is also sounded, or scored into my being. This is what I listen to, and what I mark out “exactly as it is scored” (John Cage, advising Christian Wolf; see studio jottings, ‘Selected Jottings, Autumn 2004’, 6/11/04).

2. Bruce Nauman: “Every movement in the studio must be artistic.” Mapping the Studio, Tate Modern, 2004.

3. Samuel Beckett. See studio jotting, ‘Selected Jottings, Autumn 2004’ (25/11/04).

4. See my description in the studio jotting ‘Summer 2005: The ORLO, Natural Forces, and Giving Up the Notion of Convergence’. Photographs also bear this out.

5. See studio jotting, ‘Flashing Conviction, Summer 2004’ (20/07/04).

6. According to ancient lore, the Roman artist Apelles proved his superiority over his rivals by his ability to bisect their lines. Thus he’d leave a mark of his presence: “Tell them Apelles was here”.

7. See studio jotting, ‘Flashing Conviction, Summer 2004’ (21/07/04).


The ORLO, Natural Forces, and Giving Up the Notion of Convergence - Summer 2005

‘Kicking off’ with the ORLO – that extreme limit, or outline, of my pattern / figure / form, the subject of this summer’s work has shifted between the ORLO to the GRID and back again. According to my intuitive sense.

But the ORLO has been the most dominant form, showing – if not proving – that length, width, and quality of line are enough to describe the entire body. (1) So long as the ORLO be precise. Natural forces have returned, thanks to a change in posture, necessitated by the expansion of the form. (2) In consequence, my more plastic, rhythmic lines refused to converge: drawing line upon trace, as had been my custom, now required too much will. (The trace leaned in one direction, while the line wanted, naturally, to lean in the other). So by giving up the notion of convergence, and letting each line fall as it would, the drawings recovered their former ‘swing’. They could ‘flash conviction’(3) on the viewer, of their human experience. According to her intuitive sense.(4)

1. Leon Battista Alberti. See studio jottings, ‘Selected Jottings and Reflections, January– June 2005’ (23/03/05).

2. Now bent at the waist, reaching out and over my trace in order to pick up the topmost point of my trace. By simply swinging up and back to my standing posture, the drawn line flowed naturally, in line with the forces of gravity.

3. George Eliot. See studio jotting, ‘Summer Jottings: Flashing Conviction, July–August 2004’.

4. Many thanks to Tommy Karshan, for alerting me to Schiller’s definition of the play drive: “[…] will endeavour so as to receive as if it had brought forth, and so bring forth as the intuitive sense aspires to receive”. See Schiller’s Letters Upon the Aesthetic Education of Man. Or, in the words of Plotinus, Ennead IV 6.2–3: “The mind affirms something not contained within impression: this is the characteristic of a power – within its allotted sphere to act”. Or, as David Wiggins puts it, quoting Plotinus: “The mind gives radiance to the objects of sense out of its own store”. A jotting that I wrote on 1 August 2005 also helps to illustrate what I mean: “I am bent at the waist, over the page, arm (with graphite) extended to the top of the [trace]. Lifting now from the waist, the line is drawn over and through the sheet in a smooth movement… guided always by natural forces. (So that the viewer, too, might straighten up in response to the good work).”

Selected Jottings and Reflections: January–June 2005

“My fundamental work is the way that I work,” and that I go on. How I stand and move in the studio is crucial to the work: every movement must be graceful, and “All is economical” (Beckett).

With the sheet flat on the table, ‘listening to’ those internal numbers and rhythms that guide my moves, I work my way round the page, turning the paper anti-clockwise through 90° on the stroke of 2, 4, 8 or 16 before starting the count again.

1–2–3–4–5–6–7–8 turn

1–2–3–4–5–6–7–8 turn

5/01/05 - “Where 1000 variations of three simple movements fill up the time between train and train.” Hugh Kenner on Beckett

And also like Beckett, it is the FOOT-FALLS that matter: “It is about the pacing… The fall of the feet. The sound of feet… The words are less important…” (Beckett, in Conversations with and about Beckett by Mel Gussow, p. 34).

This is how I begin each day: by the sound of my feet on the studio floor.

4/02/05 - And then capturing the sound in my marks. This I do, as ever, with “exactitude winged by intuition” (Klee), and with “diligence joined with quickness” so as to bring “promptness” and “dispatch” to the work (Leon Battista Alberti, On Painting).

5/02/05 - Each drawing has its own ‘sound-work’ behind it. You could explore each drawing “movement by movement” (Folko Jungnitsch, conductor).

28/02/05 - “Attention must be paid!” says Arthur Miller in Death of a Salesman. Yes. Attention must be paid to the sound, and to the precision of the line that captures it.

1/03/05 - Standing, always, with CORE-STABILITY (stability of my corps). This stable centre is what gives the work its strength, symmetry, balance and grace.

Finding the right posture: standing with feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, shoulders relaxed but always LIFTING FROM THE CENTRE: This is my centre of gravity. Now I can begin, and begin again. And fail. “And next time fail better” (Beckett).

6/03/05 - While always in alignment (line-meant). What does the line mean? When it is graceful, when it follows the line of gravity, “it is nothing but the path taken by the soul of the dancer” (Heinrich von Kleist).

It is a self-portrait.



18/03/05 - And the capture of “fluent time” (Folko Jungnitsch).

21/03/05 - Reading about Montaigne’s Essays, how they developed from SELF STUDY to SELF-PORTRAITURE. YES.

1983–94: SELF-STUDY (through automatism and organic abstraction: waiting for my figure/pattern to emerge).

1994: The Self-Portrait appears: the way that I work.

1994–present: The self-portrait develops, in direct response to the changing subject.


1. The self-portrait must remain faithful to the subject, changing as the subject does.

– for me, becoming increasingly pared-down, essential, yet at the same time more complex.

2. Everyone who listens to himself will discover a PATTERN ALL HIS OWN.

– I can hear mine; it’s my numbers and rhythms, complete with directions to turn. (This is my RULING PATTERN to which obedience must be paid!)

22/03/05 - I am, since 1994, SQUARING THE CIRCLE, in time, under conditions of JUST ENOUGH gravity to hold my marks in equilibrium.

24/03/05 - A note on gravity: I learn from Matthias Bärmann that the meteorites I see in his home, arranged on a tray like a miniature garden, were produced under conditions of ZERO GRAVITY. The oldest one, he says, is 4.8 billion years old. And they came from “TEXAS and OUTER SPACE”.

What to say about the regular, grid-like forms one observes on these cross-sections of time and space?

“What do I know about man’s destiny? I could tell you more about radishes.” Beckett, in Conversations with and about Beckett by Mel Gussow, p. 79

25/03/05 - Back in Renaissance Space, reading Alberti’s On Painting:

– we learn that his knowledge of painting came from his own practice. Good.

– that he was interested, too, in a control of words. He learned from Cicero a method of ANALYSIS and SYNTHESIS. We need both: “His was a brilliant mind that could both analyse and synthesize.” Eulogy for my father

27/03/05 - Alberti: On the ORLO – the outline – and VISUAL APPEARANCES. The ORLO marks the extreme limits of the subject (body). So it must be PRECISE.

One could describe the body by its OUTLINE alone: by the length, the breadth, and by the QUALITY OF THE LINE – this quality of the line is what I’m after.

“There must be no filling in.” Marcel Duchamp

28/03/05 - As in those ‘painstaking grids’ – those ‘wheels of incised lines…’ of Michelangelo. Alison Wright – compared by her with my own incised grids.

1/04/05 - And like Apelles, too. I am after the MOST PERFECT LINE, yet made and measured by man alone.

With a SOUND-WORK behind it, which can resonate with the viewer.

2/04/05 - Alberti again: I ‘happen’ to build my drawings just as he recommends:

– divide each line in half, and in half again. YES

– divide each quadrangle into 4 more quadrangles of equal proportion. YES

– to inscribe a circle within a square, divide the square into 4 equal quarters with a horizontal and a vertical line. yes. Diagonally connect these 4 half-points, forming a diamond shape. YES. Draw an arc to connect these points of the diamond. YES


4/04/05 - Here is a poem by Charles Olson (shown to me by Tamar Yoselof):

An American is a complex of occasions themselves a geometry of spatial nature.

I have this sense, that I am one with my skin. (1)



Now, drawing ONLY THE CORNERS of the square is enough to indicate the whole (form and movement).

Or marking only a short dash of line at the TOP, BOTTOM, LEFT and RIGHT sides (of the otherwise invisible square).

17/04/05 - Richard Selby remarks that he can ‘see’ the oval/circle in the form. PERFECT. (So, of course, can I).

“If we think of the forms and light of other days it is without regret.” Beckett, Molloy

Yes. Because in them we see the ORIGINS of today.

24/04/05 - Alberti: Better to correct the errors of the mind than to remove them from the drawings.

– The mind, moved and warmed by experience gives greater PROMPTNESS and DISPATCH to the work. So practice. Daily practice.

6/05/05 - Saul Bellow dies; I feel the loss.

“They told me that the truth of the universe was inscribed into our very bones. Tat the human skeleton was itself a hieroglyph. That everything we had ever known on earth was shown to us in the first days after death. That our experience of the world was desired by the cosmos, and needed by it for its own renewal.” Bellow, ‘Something to Remember Me By’

5/06/05 - Matthias promises to get for me a small meteorite for my 60th birthday. I hope – I expect – this small slice of the universe will be inscribed with marks like my own:

HORIZONTAL and VERTICALS, never confused. Leaning into the wind, just a little, so as to KEEP ON GOING.



1. ‘Maximus to Gloucester, Letter 27 [withheld]’, from Charles Olson, The Maximus Poems (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985), p. 185

Flashing Conviction, Summer 2004

Staying in stone at least awhile more. Rhythms and movement: following the sound. Te form is the result (of the movement). The plasticity comes from the rhythm; the PACE

11/07/04 - Molloy knows he needs a method but he needs his mind in the game. 

Measure without measure, coming out of the rhythms and movements of the body.                 

Like Michelangelo’s compasses in the eyes; to judge measure and proportion.                               

To perform Quad, it helps to be a dancer – paraphrase of Beckett’s notes on Quad.

12/07/04 - Beckett’s heroes describe lines and curves of relationships. As in The Unnamable.

Printmaking concerns come into play: the clarity of the line matters: and ‘wiping the plate clean’.

13/07/04 - I’m interested in how those marks and traces come into being, and how they have the power to move the viewer. George Eliot tells me how: by flashing conviction on the world (the viewer) through ‘aroused sympathy’.

The length of the line (its measure) is exactly as long as the time it takes to be made. (Te measure of space is the measure of time.)

12/08/04 - Man marks himself vertically: it’s the ground, the earth, that moves. Tat’s what makes the grid, the cross. Tat’s how we get the grid.

It is the purpose of rhythm to induce that dreamlike state.

13/08/04 - A sense of inevitability guides the work (so it must be).

Eternity, and time:

Every dance in time has a sacred model: look at Molloy with his stones.

20/08/04 - And further: Molloy – “but this was only a makeshift, that could not long satisfy a man like me”. Molloy, on turning his stones without a method. Ten: “But to suck the stones as I have described, not haphazard, but with method, was also, I think, a bodily need”. Molloy’s other bodily need is his BALANCE. Leaning into the wind, like a sail, so as to KEEP ON GOING. UPRIGHT, yet “existence is a curve” (Sartre).

Giving the simplest lines meaning. ATTENUATED MEANING.

Drawing through the page with the entire body: much more, even, than from the shoulder. Securing my position, one foot braced behind, in order to move vertically across the page, top to bottom. It’s a dance through the page, not over it.

21/08/04 - Every drawing must contain all that I know, the whole of my experience, as it has been integrated, and understood.

There are so few notes, but so many variations.

The sureness of the rhythm, as experienced in the work, helps to FLASH CONVICTION on the viewer by means of aroused sympathy.

23/08/04 - And listen to the sounds of the work. They keep me in place, and in pace.

26/08/04 - A method, yes, but no plan: knowing gives way to intuition, and to chance, while the organic takes hold in my scheme.

27/08/04 - Karshan’s characters [drawings] describe lines and curves of relationships.

28/08/04 - New table – a door – new sound. Drawing on this new surface is like carving anew. Te surface is soft, but firm; the sound is soft, but pronounced. Breath. It sounds like human breathing. A breathing machine. Rhythmic, repetitive.

Thus the classical form, the classical canon. In accordance with man’s body, his proportions… and the numbers and rhythms of the universe.

I am always choreographing the page: smiling, swaying, but never, never slouching.

04/09/04 - “Two feet walking.” Giacometti, when asked about his studio. Listen to the sound, the natural rhythm



“Standing gracefully upright and alert.” Re-reading Jill Lloyd, Redfern catalogue.

06/09/04 - The compasses in the eyes of Michelangelo, and his architectural drawings made – astonishingly – by turning them around 90° or 180°. For probably 1½–2 years I often think, while working, as I take up whatever existing trace I can muster, that I start of like Leonardo, to unleash the unconscious. But once the numbers, rhythms and turning sets in – takes hold – I operate like Michelangelo. Like a sculptor, or architect. IN THE ROUND.

And the concentration, and the PACE. The plasticity comes from the rhythm.

Again, what is arresting to see now, is how the drawings of 2004 (July and August) remind me of those first ‘grids’ of 1995: it’s the way they sit – lean – on the page. They lean into the wind, so as to keep on going.

“Listening to sound is a sculptural act; the ear, as Joseph Beuys said, is the genuine sense of sculpture.” Matthias Bärmann, in a note to me.

Yes, I listen, I carve, I sculpt. I make my way with exactitude winged by intuition, always leaning into the wind just a little, so as to keep on going.

JUST LISTEN! The ear is the genuine sense of sculpture!