Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Sketchbook Project comes to Melbourne

For several years I've wanted to participate in the Sketchbook Project, an initiative of Brooklyn Art Library in New York. But every year other projects intervened. Early in 2013 I finally managed to put some time aside. Even though I had other deadlines, somehow I also made this one and actually got my sketchbook posted to Brooklyn with time to spare (although admittedly not a lot). Since then it's toured parts of Canada and the US. But now, like a boomerang, it's come back, if only fleetingly. Last week sketchbooks from Australia and New Zealand, plus others from more far-flung parts of the world, were on view at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne.

My sketchbook, The Secret Sites of the Shadow Women, was an early experiment with silhouette forms. The Shadow Women were drawn onto pages cropped from a 1980s Gregory's Melbourne Street Directory. Each year potential sketchbook artists are given a broad range of themes from which to choose. Mine was More Mysterious Maps; my partner Shane Jones chose 1,703 Miles and Back for his sketchbook.

On Friday afternoon we called into the VCA and viewed a number sketchbooks. Some were randomly chosen, whilst others were by people with whom one or the other of us is acquainted, namely Helen Gory, Rebecca Mayo, Sally Darlinson and Soula Mantalvanos. We also revisited our own volumes, which, outside of a trip to Brooklyn, we never really expected to see again.

The two librarians were extraordinarily obliging, flexible, knowledgeable, cheerful and patient, even when the internet connection repeatedly crashed. I hope they took heart from the overwhelmingly positive responses to the books that emanated from a constant stream of excited visitors – there was a real buzz in the air. If only some of that energy could have been channeled into the VCA’s wonky internet connection.

The Sketchbook Project
VCA - University of Melbourne
234 St. Kilda Road
Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Building
Melbourne, VIC 3006
November 1st - 9th, 2013