Friday, 26 March 2010

Drawing Comparisons

Today I disguised myself as a man, went and sat in a pub, and drew the barmaid. Been doing it for years (drawing barmaids, in disguise): the sketches are terrible - no progress - but I’m not concerned about the end result (whether the drawing’s any good or not). No. It’s the dualism, the synchronicity, the mimicry - the comparison that can be drawn between the actions of the barmaid and myself - that draws me back, time and again. I can disguise myself but you can’t disguise the facts: I’m drawing the barmaid as she’s drawing pints.
I’m filling the page as she’s filling a glass. Both of us are drawing a substance with a head (and beer, like a barmaid, has to have ‘body’). Dark ink flows from my pen as dark-ale drips from her tap. As I’m drinking her in with my eyes can she see through my disguise? We’re both using only one hand: she pulls at work; I pull at home. We both have one arm thicker than the other. She’s using optics; I’m using optics
Everything is connected. Aleister Crowley’s family brewed beer: the family’s wealth lay in the brewing of Crowley Ales. They also owned a number of drinking shops, akin to present-day wine bars, known as Crowley’s Alehouses. Edmond Yates (founder of Yates’s Wine Bars) in his Recollections and Experiences (1884), stated, “Crowley’s Alehouses were small shops fitted with a beer engine at the counter”. Air Ships have engines and Crowley wasn’t exactly close to his family. During the First World War Crowley sent a letter to Count Zeppelin to complain about the inefficiency of German bombing raids over Britain. He wrote, “A great deal of damage was done at Croydon, especially at its suburb, Addiscombe, where my aunt lives. Unfortunately her house was not hit. Count Zeppelin is respectfully requested to try again. The exact address is Eaton Lodge, Outram Road”.
Planes have engines too. But look, this one is also equipped with a head - a head that combines beer and engines and optics: a head with an eye (optics and beer engine pumps again): a head that throbs and froths.
And look at Crowley’s self-portrait again: head to head. Onwards and upwards (but don’t confuse this with progress): I can’t stop drawing comparisons.

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