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Goldsmiths' Official Student Magazine

Sketchy Places: Drawings Shaped by Journeys

26 January 2019
"How the detached aloofness of travelling created a conducive headspace for my landscape of creativity, both written and drawn." By Paige Apetino...


“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.” The words of Anais Nin, French-American diarist, echo in my head as I climb to the top deck of the BC ferry, destination Nanaimo: the ferry port city on Vancouver Island, from where I will begin my six-day thumb-hiking beach tour.

My mind is pleasantly calm, awash with the foamy platform we glide over- the majority of my time is spent with myself, and 90% of social interaction is derived from my exchange with the ticket collector at boarding gates, and coffee baristas. I drift into voyeur mode, observing and absorbing the arabesque flicks of the waves, and similarly ornamental interactions of those around me. I dissolve so wholly into the landscape to the point that when I get back to England, I can come back to this place, this plastic chair, the canteen smell and weightless feel of silver Canadian cents in my waterproof jacket, even the arctic breeze that catches between my neck and scarf.

Succumbing totally into the modern archetype of a classic ‘flaneuse’, my mind empties completely, and my views and surroundings become almost unreal to the receptors in my mind’s eye. I enter a dazed, aimless dreamscape where everything becomes like a 2D sketch. Unreal. Photographic. The reason I recall Nin’s words so heavily is because hers is the only book I brought with me on this seven-week trip, the only thing I have to devour when it’s not the time for food or cigarettes. Her writing now frames every moment and action I take, her phrases and words stemming from nowhere. As I bend to pick up my scarf from the floor, an image of the Veiled Woman bending behind a thick Velour dress becomes me.

Ordering another Matcha Latte from Starbucks and giving another fake name (today I am Jasmine, a middle name I never get to fully utilise) I recall the ‘green fairy’ vision so often evoked in her writing, and in that of Decadent writers. Their fibrous, palpable world arouse a similar vigour and enthusiasm for the zest of life which I myself try to translate into writing and drawings. Subconsciously, my writing is a subterfuge toward nude life drawing, obfuscated by words. By removing the ‘still life’ element and replacing it with an energised sexual invite, somewhere within and without the body language of the subject, sensuality is achieved.

Most commonly, drawings are of people I know well- well enough to pose naked for me – I prefer to expose the chemistry of a person whose chemistry I am personally familiar with. It tends to come alive on paper when I know and feel the person I am drawing. The human body, far from being portrayed simply as a sexual object, becomes a language to be read, translated, to be understood and interpreted; a body is a poem which reveals new meanings and ideas to each onlooker. Interestingly, the sea scape view which follows the road along the coast echoes thick women’s thighs, scored deeply along the edge by a crust of shadow. Similarly, the frosted waves following Tofino’s main coastal road interestingly doesn’t inspire me to draw natural landscapes. Rather, it seems to draw out my eye-further into infinite depth of the simmering horizon-stretching my mind so wide that in a second, I am back on that beach with the froth climbing up my legging-ed knees. Calm, open, wide and blank. In comparison, looking at a body is bombardment, inundating, sensual, emotional, and subconsciously messages the potent power of bodily language, once again. The beauty of a balcony is a similarly windy, freeing experience. The balcony of my grandmother in Naples, Italy is engrained in my mind the same way the shape of the feet of a partner are, poking out the white linen sheets of our bed. The image is air, it is movement, it is freedom in lines and the metal swirls of the bars between you and the external.

As with writing, meaning is accessed the further you move into it, the deeper into the text you work, the deeper into the body’s shadows and undulations you begin to tackle, the more you learn. Messages develop as you work, meaning comes together as you write, story develops along the string threading, an idea, together. The human body mirrors a paradigm of the text-they are antithetical, yet paired in their didactic functions; is a dreamlike experience to indulge in. In Delta of Venus, my bible and motto, Nin says that there is “a perfection in everything that cannot be owned.” Bodies cannot be owned, they are learned, copied, drawn. Text cannot be owned it is interpreted, a guiding flame. This is how travelling in the open space allows my writing and drawing to develop; it’s singular unattainability.

Words & Images, Paige Apetino