Q & A with Dynamic Drawing’s Ron Curran
How many years have you been running Dynamic Drawing classes and why do you think they has maintained such interest over the years?
Since 2000. Dynamic Drawing is not a ‘craft’ class that hands people a set of techniques and then closes the door. It’s an ongoing forum into both identity and creativity and in so doing meets people’s broader need for expression. It accesses a deeper place inside. It does not trap people in the subject or hang them out on the vanishing point. I believe that’s what keeps people coming back, just going through all the layers / ways of seeing.
What do you offer in your life drawing classes that sets them apart from other life drawing classes?
Strictly speaking it’s not a life drawing class in that sense. Sure, we use a model as a subject but it’s not limited to that. It’s just a starting point for something more, something thematic that people can stretch out on and find their own territory and develop their own style, their own choices, stories etc. Ultimately, everyone is different and sees things differently. The history of art is a history of difference. That’s why Dynamic Drawing exists: it’s pure drawing / total drawing – not just illustrative or pictorial. It’s more about emergent structure and its relation to originality.
What do you feel are the biggest threats to having vibrant artistic communities?
The biggest threat is elitism and the kind of art political cliques that hijack the art scene / exhibitions and turn them into trade fairs or fashion parades and opportunistically sell artists investment portfolios. Sometimes I hate the word artist!
Why is engaging people’s creativity so important? Can everybody draw?
Yes, everyone can draw. Everyone is inhabited by some kind of language / mark. Engaging people’s creativity is really important because it gives people back to themselves and helps and empowers them to identify and deal with their experience. It gives them choices; it’s about the only place in culture where democracy actually works / exists.
As a teacher what excites you as you move around the class and look at the marks your students are making?
As a facilitator the stuff that happens on the tables in the class, the marks people make, is vital to me and sometimes quite unexpectedly amazing and inspiring. In the marks I find the questions that are being asked and the questions that need to be asked. It becomes my dialogue. I read the conversations that are happening and then reflect them back. That’s what I do. That is my job as facilitator, to recognise and release the conversation that is already happening on the paper in people’s drawings. That is why I can never plan a class because I need to wait for the cues and signals to find out what is happening on the day. I facilitate – you can’t teach drawing as such; but you can allow it to happen and introduce positive strategies to help structure people’s ideas, their dreams and visions.
This is the first time I ever remember your having an exhibition. Why have you decided to show the works publicly?
Dynamic Drawing is more process than product oriented. Rather like going to a yoga or meditation class. It is a visual-language class. Exhibitions haven’t really been such a priority – the product side of what happens has not really been my focus, mainly workshops and classes, focusing on process and translation. (Also, quite honestly, sometimes I just get a bit lazy and prefer to go surfing!)
But yes, we have had exhibitions. A couple early in the piece at the Waywood Gallery and quite a big exhibition at the Moller Pavilion in Bangalow before I went to Melbourne. In Melbourne in 2010 we had a massive exhibition representing about 60 drawers with about 200 works on the walls in the Brunswick Street Gallery in Fitzroy. (It was the biggest and most successful exhibition that the gallery had put on.) Dynamic Drawing became the most popular drawing class in Melbourne during 2008–2010.
Considering framing costs are often a big setback for most visual artists who work on paper, how will the works be displayed? Can works on paper be shown in more creative and affordable ways?
Yes, framing using the traditional section and glass is not essential. Works can be on corflute, foam core, stiff board or similar, so long as practicable, which keeps participants’ costs down. The works will be hung on vertical cable with clips from picture rails.
The other day I took my 6-year-old Ivy to GOMA and walked her through. She said, ‘I don’t understand what this is about’. Even if we don’t understand it, why is having art in your life important?
We don’t understand the wind either or cannot predict the flames of a fire or understand exactly birdsong or the stars. But we need them almost as much as we need breath to understand who we are and how we fit into it all. Art is elemental and gives us continuity and some kind of meaning to our lives… a shot of hope in an often mundane and seemingly blurred world. Art can suddenly make our lives extraordinary.
It’s when we overcome our fears about drawing, when we start to let go, that we arrive at the place where drawing actually begins. Here is something I wrote while in Melbourne
‘We are much smarter intuitively than we could ever believe. Strong work comes from that amazing intersection where our attachments and fears collide into a recognisable vision of who we are.’
The works of the participants in Ron Curran’s Dynamic Drawing class are on show at Kulchajam on Saturday and Sunday with a Q&A on Saturday at 11am and a workshop for the public on Sunday 11am–2pm. Be at Kulchajam by 10.45am to participate in workshop. $20 per person. Bring your own lunch; basic materials provided.
For more information go to dynamicdrawing.com.au.