What have I been doing recently? The thing that - if they haven't been actually doing it - everyone has been thinking about. I've been spending some time at 'Occupy'.
Inspired and irritated in almost equal measure by Slavoj Žižek's rallying cry of "Occupy first, demands come later", and intrigued by the scattergun of negative reactions in the press - from the usual 'professional anarchists' accusations to the complaints that 'yuppie' day-protesters couldn't possibly have anything to contribute - at Occupy LSX I knew there must be something going on.
It's odd how uncomfortable I felt when I first visited,..
...and how quickly I became involved (but that's another story - which I am writing and drawing up).
After re-visiting a couple of times I'm still fascinated by 'occupying' - by the re-use of city space, by the registering of protest just by being there.
No one can put themselves behind every demand posted around the camp but, even if we don't want to camp out, don't have the freedom to visit - even if we don't actually agree with the protest - we have to admit that its presence has already occupied part of our minds.
And even if it doesn't give all the answers - if the diversity of the camp's demands seems too 'unformulated' - what it does do is raise the question.
On 7th December I'll be leading a drawing journal workshop at the Tent City University at Occupy St Pauls. You can find more information on the university's listings page.
Occupy your minds/Occupy your hands
This isn’t a workshop for experienced artists (though if you are one, of course you’re welcome). Anyone can draw well enough to keep a drawing diary. You can be a resident or a passer-by. You don’t even need materials: I’m going to give you notebooks and pens/pencils.
You’re here at Occupy LSX to do something serious. Drawing might seem trivial – but it can be important.
It can do three things.
1) You can help to make a record of everyday life in Occupy LSX. You’re here in an extraordinary situation – something that deserves to be recorded. You can keep your drawing diaries for yourselves and/or lend them to me to photograph for an online Flickr archive.
2) As soon as you start to draw, you start to notice more: when you draw the details of everyday life, you begin to think about how they might be changed.
3) In the middle of the busy city, with little personal space, drawing can be a quiet private headspace. What’s more it’s a really really good way to occupy your hands and your mind on a cold winter’s morning.
This workshop is only the starting point: I’ll be back on 19th December and further dates to meet with you , draw, and talk about what you’ve been doing.
If you're in London and don't mind taking a late lunch hour, I very much hope you'll come.
And, if you can't attend but you're interested in helping, I will need materials for my workshop. Go here if you'd like to buy a pack of sketchbooks, erasers pencils or pens which will be delivered to me in time for the workshops (or even the vaguely amusing/appropriate £ note erasers I found here - which are also on my list) and hopefully see the results appear on Flickr.