Sketchbooks from covid and beyond: exploring the impetuous, improvisational, and deeply felt musings about life, politics, and the function of caricature

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The closing shutter of lockdown on our sense of normality, routine and freedom had a profound effect on how we see the world and evaluate meaning and value. We quickly realised that our orientation towards life itself was distorted by demands from work, socialising, and a sleepy comfort in the status quo. Through drawing, I sought to examine this new reality by visually realising some of the insights which had been prompted by both a lack of freedom of movement and, a growing realisation of the limitations of political, social, and cultural institutions. A satirical language that had developed throughout my artistic career took a turn towards the improvisational, experimental, and provocative. My visual language was becoming refined and through a ‘no strings attached’ drawing without planning or sketching, the moves of the drawing were closely matched to movement in my own thinking. The detail I was able to provide in these drawings came from years of observing and drawing and observing and doing, as Causey calls, ‘after drawings’ from memory. (2017) This built a capacity for remembering forms drawn and drawing from mental images has enabled a liberation from reference, and with that the ability to manifest almost any pictorial reality convincingly. These drawings utilise the function and effect of caricature to deliver personal and political messages and are consciously indulgent, stylistic, and share the features of mannerism. Ernst Kris noted of the origins of caricature and it’s overriding contribution noting ‘caricature seeks to discover a likeness in deformity; in this way, so runs the theory of the time, it comes nearer to truth than does reality. This settles the nature of its achievement; it serves the purpose of unmasking another person, familiar to us as a technique of degradation.’ (Kris, 1964, p.175) Kris makes a distinction within caricature between the ‘comic’ effect and the more transformative qualities of caricature and notes that ‘pleasure’ is the unifying effect of the two. (ibid) This description resonates with the drawings below which asks small and large questions of the viewer through their propositional, caricatural language and delights the viewer in the satisfaction of a reality re-rendered for consideration of its flaws and folly.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-53
Number of pages16
JournalBlack Book Drawing and Sketching Scientific Journal
Issue number1
Early online date30 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2023


  • caricature
  • lockdown
  • pandemic
  • sketchbooks

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