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  • Writer's pictureGillian Holding

A Leeds Stroll #gristtothemill


Last summer I completed a large drawing installation for the On The Edge festival in Leeds, mapping through drawing the demographic profile of a small corner of Holbeck near my studio.

I’ve been planning similar pieces since, but they are demanding and time consuming despite being very intuitive and speedily executed drawings.

I begin with a series of photographic notes taken surreptitiously on the move. These photos are pretty useless save as aide-memoires of the anonymous people I encounter. I am intrigued, impelled to ‘collect’ these anonymous characters in all their random variety.

But despite the wide range of cultures and society represented, there’s a fascinating homogeneity to each ‘group’. Despite their differences, they collectively represent a particular location very precisely, and it’s this overall character which interests me so much. It’s when I feel in another world. Yet it’s often my world.

I’m on the outside looking in, but I’m part of it. It feels simultaneously odd yet normal.

My latest piece maps a walk from the city centre to home a couple of weeks ago. It was 21 degrees, and the streets were relatively quiet. So I was able to note every encounter of the 3 mile walk.

Now all I have to do is draw.

As in real life, the clock can’t be turned back and there’s no way of predicting outcome or controlling the future. I start at one end of the paper, and just draw, steadily, balancing and composing as I go.

It becomes a game. If I make this mark here, where will the next mark be made to balance it?

Still a few days to go. I have no idea what it will look like.

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