A Sketchbook for Brooklyn Art Library

I have avidly been following The Sketchbook Project at The Brooklyn Art Library for several years. The Sketchbook Project is an exciting and innovative concept and self-funding initiative, holding an archive of over 30,000 sketchbooks from all over the world with an incredibly diverse demographic of creative contributors spanning all ages, experience and approaches. As an artist whose practice is intrinsically linked to the sketchbook, a vehicle to engage with the world we inhabit as both virtual studio and engine for ideation, I have always wanted to engage with and be part of such an archive.

I received the sketchbook in early May 2021. I developed a plan to approach the idea of a sketchbook that would be released out of my physical control and not added to my own personal archive of sketchbooks collected over the last 30 years of practice.

My approach to the sketchbook keyed into current ongoing research and development, which questions the broader accessibility and impact of a sketchbook. The sketchbook’s traditions as a personal or private artefact and the work within as not merely preparation – instead outcomes in their own right, alongside continuing investigation and personal debate in terms of ownership and collaboration. My current research – entitled Drawn Out (a working title), involves developing incomplete or partially engaged sketchbook pages. The pages are then shared with a range of practitioners from various fields not traditionally associated with drawing and systems of visual development and, or analysis of ideas, physics, mathematics, anthropology and psychology, etc. The participants are asked to respond through forms of annotation and notation, whether visual, diagrammatically, numerical or textual, to the received pages.

My approach to The Brooklyn Library Sketchbook was to affect each page in some way from the outset and complete over four weeks working across all the initial and inserted extra pages. The sketchbook travelled with me over this period, using time on various commutes from Kent to and around London and as part of daily half-hour sketchbook coffee and tea breaks, an essential part of my routine for many years. Dependant on a collection of pens in the pocket and occasional wash of leftover coffee, I would randomly engage with a page responding to existing images and annotation produced previously on each page as long as space allowed.

I produced a range of outcomes in the sketchbook – a collaboration with the self of sorts – taking on alternate roles or identities, yet still the same practitioner. Now complete, I am excited to let it go, left only with a digital record, minus the physical reality though a little more shelf space and a part of a new global community.

‘Drawn Out’ – A Four Week Journey – #S2278786

Anyone – from anywhere in the world – can be a part of The Sketchbook Project. To participate and have The Brooklyn Art Library send you a sketchbook that will live in the world’s largest collection of sketchbooks, go to https://brooklynartlibrary.org/