The Gladstone Experience

The Gladstone Experience

My brother Michael and I were excited to participate in the Gladstone Hotel’s #GrowOp2020. As we set up, we felt like we were in good company with lots of talented people, Queen street is vibrant, the Gladstone is a cultural hub with a long history – a nice opportunity to show 3 months’ work.

The show itself was completely upended by the virus. It was surreal. The city was not yet on lockdown, but I found myself stepping back and away from the show’s attendees. There was never a large enough gathering to be unsafe – we had 500 attendees over the course of all four days – but there were times when even two people in the room felt like a crowd.

These are sketches I drew of my brother and of, well, not my brother, during the show.

I drew Michael at a variety of distances, including some that are very close. I never stopped feeling comfortable in the same space with him.
For everyone else, I set up three points in the corners of the room (two chairs and one square). Participants chose one and I sat, stood, or lay down, drawing them in another.

I didn’t set up an expectation of what would happen or try to draw within any other framework. I just drew until I was done (or until they gave me a one minute warning). This strange installation-drawing project forced me into some uncomfortable positions. I ended up including details in the surroundings I would normally have ignored. I drew around a wall. I drew with sculptures interfering with the portraits. I included background details I would normally exclude. I couldn’t always see the details of faces, so some of the drawings are oddly generic.


People at a Distance

Michael and I spoke about a feeling we had during the show. We described it to each other, this uncomfortable feeling that made everyone seem somehow more like a stranger. It felt like the hostile beginnings of xenophobia and I never want to feel it again.

Thank you to those who participated in this project. It felt good to connect to you, even at a distance. 

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