As a creative person myself, I have always been intrigued by modes of illustrative practice, this interest is equal parts awe and envy. The directness of pen or pencil to paper requires skill and confidence in the medium, there is no room for uncertainty or option to press ‘undo’. The appeal of illustration is of course the aesthetics, but also the honesty of process and outcome; the artist’s presence is felt through marks made. The significance of what I have termed the ‘handmade image’ in this context, references the method of illustrating by hand without digital support and therefore each artwork in the exhibition is an original – something increasingly rare in the commercial arts sector today. So this immediacy of illustration or drawing and the profound talent demonstrated by the selected artists underpins the concept for this show. Rather than dwell on commodification of art today, Pencil Pushers simply seeks to acknowledge and celebrate the ‘handmade image’.
This exhibition is of course only a humble and relatively local glimpse into this world. The artists featured in Pencil Pushers explore different themes, yet all seem to be capturing moments in time, documenting the details of life through repetitive and therapeutic actions. Auf Wiedersehen and Chelsea Gustafsson take beautiful hairstyles out of their natural environment. Indigo O’Rourke and Scott Leonard transform the unassuming biro into the super real. Maddy Young references current tattoo culture as a tool for expressing emotions. Carla McRae and The Seven Seas focus on personal narrative through stylized figures. Mark De Koning isolates objects in space and time with monochromatic precision. Caitlin Shearer’s colourful scenes depict a quiet yet powerful femininity and connection to nature. Although diverse, each artists’ work is united through their belief in pushing those pencils by hand.
I am so grateful to the artists for contributing so generously to this project and also to Boom Gallery for supporting it.
[All install images by Cricket Studio]
Exhibition runs from November 10 – December 3. To see a full listing for Pencil Pushers click here.