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8 Drawing Multiplicities

Observational drawing, like carving, is an act of progressive seeing. With each line drawn or each layer carved away it is possible to see what had not been evident before. Drawing and carving are parallel skills.

When lines are drawn on the stone they serve a different purpose from independent drawing. Such functional drawing is often invisible and frequently overlooked. Stone can be a wonderful ground; lines drawn on stone are especially beautiful, but their beauty is usually ephemeral. A drawing on stone only lingers for a while. Soon both the drawn line and its ground are carved away and new lines are drawn. Drawing's role is to lead the carving or to project relationships onto the mass of stone, enabling the sculptor to visualize form. A drawn line circling the stone is one of the few times a drawing is literally three-dimensional. If the sum of all the lines drawn over the course of a sculpture could be saved they would record a history of responsive thinking as it occurred while making.

 

Carved graffiti on white marble from a mine near Carrara, Italy A mason's carving guidelines drawn on granite. St Marga Temple Workshop, Peenya, India

 

It may be a stretch to call graffiti the work of stone workers but with the possible exception of a random stone altered to make a better tool, scratching into rock is probably older than any other human actions done to or on stone. Many prehistoric cave paintings are actually painted over engraved lines. The carving apparently came first. The carving may have led the drawing rather than the other way around.

One person's mark seems to provoke another. Graffiti is found all over the world. On the Orkney Islands there is an ancient chambered cairn called Maes Howe where Viking graffiti has been preserved. Graffiti has been found scribbled over prehistoric cave art and on the walls of Egyptian temples, including on the Temple of Dendon, which has been moved and reconstructed in New York's Metropolitan Museum. Explorers from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were especially fond of leaving reminders, usually their names and a date. It is very much like footnoting a visit. In places of natural beauty like cliffs and waterfalls we are likely to find the carved initials of past visitors.


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