Sketching dormant things
As part of her one year residency at the Morgan Centre, the illustrator and urban sketcher Lynne Chapman has been accompanying me on some of my follow-up dormant things interviews (as well as drawing her own ‘dormant things’ pictured above). Lynne’s residency is funded by the Leverhulme Trust’s artist in residence scheme and during her time at the Morgan centre she will be capturing academic life, participating in research projects, teaching us to draw (!). The aim of this is to allow us to see what the possibilities are for sketching as a way to capture everyday lives – the focus of the Morgan Centre’s research.
I have always been interested in how effective photographs are at helping to depict the everyday objects that my research focuses upon. Whilst as academics we know that photographs are not an accurate representation of things, it is hard not to look at a photo and try to see the object depicted ‘as it is’. I have done a number of interviews where I have either been captivated by what someone has said about an item of their clothing or, through observing how often people wear an item of clothing, realised how central the clothing is to people’s everyday practices and sense of self. Often when I look at the photograph I have taken of the item of clothing I have felt disappointed in how poorly the image helps us to understand how much the item matters. This is all the marked for supposedly ‘mundane’ items of material culture, such as a pair of jeans that people wear everyday. I was interested in seeing how Lynne’s observational sketching style – a combination of drawings and words – might be better able to capture the role and power of everyday objects in people’s lives.
Lynne herself has blogged about accompanying me on one of the second interviews, and I was struck by both how she managed to ‘live sketch’ such a vast array of objects (the contents of a cupboard), as well as bringing them to life. The things in the cupboard are made alive through the drawings and they resonate with memories and everyday relationships. This is precisely what the Dormant Things project is about.