Forgotten Portraits and Fragmented Memories

Posted by on Feb 19, 2017 in Sketchbook, Vestige | No Comments

My life at the moment is completely absorbed in Vestige. I’m constantly analysing every moment anyone mentions memories and even my own memories that come to me during the day. I have been researching into memory but memories are such an integral part of life it’s easy to get consumed by thinking about them. But today I had a particularly interesting experience. I was clearing out a few things in my house when I came across a book. It’s a book I stole around 14 years ago. I can’t quite remember all the details of stealing the book, it’s a bit hazy, but I know I was infused with alcohol wandering around the hotel with a few friends. I’m not sure if it was one of those thematic display books or if it was genuinely a book from an archive. I think it was stolen from a room that wasn’t accessible to the public but then it contains account information of several companies from the nineteen seventies, so I’m really not sure why it wouldn’t have been thrown away. The book looks and smells old, older than the seventies. It looks hand-bound and the paper has a thickness which wouldn’t be economical by today’s standards. It has the traditional marbled lining paper and a marbled foredge. It’s a thing of beauty, which is probably why I stole it and why I still have it.


As I was flicking through the pages, I came across a page with a wad of loose portrait sketches I had done several years ago. There was also a sketch on the page in the book itself. I immediately remembered the sketches but without any context, like where I drew them or who they were of. The paper they were drawn on however revealed a little more about when they drawn and opened up a whole new set of contextual memories.


The two above were drawn on flight boarding passes to San Francisco from 2013. This was a stop off for a journey to Hawaii for Imiloa Fulldome Festival. I remember meeting the team from Fiske planetarium in Denver in the reception. I remember doing the cork trick at the final evening gala. I remember paddling over the painful volcanic rock and sitting with the giant turtles before catching my flight home. I remember the super-sized vehicles that had monster truck style wheels which were standard family cars on the island. I actually remember drawing the girl on the right. I used a Pilot Parallel pen and the paper was so glossy the ink took days to dry.


This one is drawn on the map of the hotel I stayed at whilst at the Imiloa festival. I remember taking a photo of Ryan that I would eventually paint a portrait from.


I don’t have a clue where this one is from. I’m pretty sure the text is Japanese but as I’ve not been to Japan, I’m assuming I must have just found this page somewhere.  The people noted in English are British sculptors and architects. I don’t know who the portrait is of.


I think this is probably drawn from The Sartorialist blog as it reminds me of one of the typical poses from there. The blank page reveals nothing.


This is drawn on the page in the book where I found all the other sketches. I wasn’t sure who the guy was but after some searching I figured out that it’s Sir William Arthur Lewis, who won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 1979. It’s hard to know why I drew him, or how I stumbled across his picture. I do however remember the pens I used for the colourful shards. They have all ran out or dried up now.


Again, no clue who this is.


And this one is drawn on a piece of paper that really throws me back into a spiral of memories. The words were written by Robrecht Lenaerts from Cosmodrome in Belgium. We met at Jena Fulldome Festival in Germany. “Op Uw Bakkes”… This is “Cheers” in Flemish. I remember repeating this phrase over a few beers in the beer tent whilst he endeavoured to perfect my pronunciation. I had such a great time at the festival and met a few people that really had a big impact on my life. I remember so many moments with Robrecht… They are just there immediately when I think of this singular memory. I have no memory of drawing the portrait, but the paper it’s on is a powerful trigger of so many great memories.

As well as this being a really interesting set of images individually, as a group they reveal something else. The motif of the fragments exploding out from behind the heads of some of the people. It’s a motif I’m already aware of, but I didn’t realise quite how long this has been appearing in my sketches. The earliest I can find is from 2011 but they become more apparent from 2013 onward. It’s not often I analyse my sketchbook mutterings but this idea has started to feed into Vestige so I’m trying to figure out where it comes from and what it means. It may just be a compositional tool to guide the eye but it feels very symbolic to me. I’ve started assigning some meaning to it; fragmented memories, shards of the soul etc. But the truth is, I’m not really sure. It seems so easy to assign a symbolic meaning though, which itself could be useful. As the story in Vestige continues to develop, this motif is being used to punctuate the peak emotional moment in the narrative.


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