Screenshot of video. Charcoal drawing from Residuals performance #1 on Tue 16 January in dance studio at The Old Fire Station, Oxford, UK. Artists: John Hazel and Andrew Wood. Photo: Andrew Wood

Residuals: performance #1

I dived into the surface of the paper. Beneath me, carbon residuals (charcoal) assisted my passage as I slide across the white paper, parting the material and marking the paper. John Hazel who was co-creating the charcoal drawing with me, followed by stepping and drawing with his shod foot. The dance studio at the Old Fire Station, Oxford was our performance venue for this ‘drawing-dance’ on Tuesday 16 January 2024.

A drawing made by movement

Andrew Wood sliding onto the surface of the paper, marking it with charcoal residuals in performance Residuals #1
Andrew Wood sliding onto the surface of the paper, marking it with charcoal residuals in performance Residuals #1

John and I set up the stage or performance area by taping rolls of paper to the dance floor, creating a continuous papered area about 1.5 metres by 3 metres. We emptied the bio-char granules – which is charcoal (carbon) onto it – creating piles without any particular ordering. This meant that we’d not need to keep feeding it onto the paper bit by bit and we could fully concentrate on mark making. The decision to work in a single colour – black – also assisted in this focus. Imagine if we’d used colour and had to make colour decisions too! Hesitance and prevarication would have killed it.

Jazz inspiration

Improvising jazz musicians work in a shared space. Infact, they also share the performance time too – they share space and time.

Usually – but not always, fine artists produce work individually. It’s unusual for them to collaborate directly. Although murals are often collaborations and indeed artists may employ ‘assistances’ in their studios too.

Dancers often dance together but of course there are solos. In this project and for this residuals performance, there was a shared canvas – and the charcoal drawing was co-created by John and me. There was another dance partner – the paper surface and indeed the floor or earth, supporting us all. Oh yes, and gravity! Mostly, we were like improvising jazz musicians in our approach.

Performance recording

Landscape, installation, drawing

The idea underlying the residuals project is dance making and mark making. Their unification.

However, what we produced was not simply marks on a surface i.e a drawing. It’s also an artefact, and looking at the video you’ll see how the piles of charcoal residuals are moved on the surface. The result is actually like a landscape. There are piles of carbon, valleys, hillocks, scree, moraines. Physical geographers would find much that is familiar here.

At one point in the performance, John uses a diffuser spray to introduce water onto the surface of the drawing. And rather like a water course in a landscape, debris – particles, dust and sediment is moved upon it, creating intricate and delightful patterns and features.

During the performance, you’ll notice that we stop to photograph the drawing and the detail in it. Just as we photograph a landscape, framing a pleasing part of it, so here we did the same, in the landscape of the drawing.

Catching the bus

Artists and dance artists, Andrew Wood (left) and John Hazel (right) at the Old Fire Station dance studio, Oxford, UK on Tuesday 16 January 2024. Photo: John Hazel.
Artists and dance artists, Andrew Wood (left) and John Hazel (right) at the Old Fire Station dance studio, Oxford, UK on Tuesday 16 January 2024. Photo: John Hazel.

John had to leave and catch the bus home. Was that the end of the performance? I had to clear up! The paper and dance floor around it were covered in charcoal and charcoal dust. There was a tap class in the dance studio that evening!

However, as I used to broom to clear the residuals from the paper surface, I was changing it and recomposing it. Was the performance over?

There were some lovely marks created as the sweepings formed edges. Fines, ordered and reordered. I photographed the surface repeatedly as the clearing proceeded. The finer dust was revealed like a photographic developing process. Eventually, most of the dust not affixed to the surface was swept up.

An inspection by the staff of the Old Fire station lead to the suggestion that not only should I sweep the floor and wash it with a mop but use a vacuum cleaner on it too. At that stage the paper was still on the floor and as I vacuumed around the paper, I noticed it could remove dust from the paper surface, revealing white like an eraser. Of course, I set about drawing a designed on the paper. I’d discovered a new mark making tool and technique.

Finally, I lifted the paper from its horizontal position on the floor and hung it on a wall; just as most drawings are displayed.

Residuals #1 image 002. Artists Andrew Wood & John Hazel. Charcoal on paper. Created 16 January 2024 at Old Fire Station dance studio, Oxford. UK. Photo: Andrew Wood. Black & whtie 35mm film photograph.
Residuals #1 image 002. Artists Andrew Wood & John Hazel. Charcoal on paper. Created 16 January 2024 at Old Fire Station dance studio, Oxford. UK. Photo: Andrew Wood. Black & whtie 35mm film photograph.

Further analysis

I shall produce a detailed description of the performance, the movements, the mark making and the tools used in it.

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