Free

Here again are drawings using white conte crayon and clear water to create an invisible image on white paper, developed by dragging a darker crayon over the marks, so the pigment is caught by the damp surface while sparing the drier areas of the white crayon resist. Then I draw lines into this to find the image.

I was trying for an inside out self-portrait, drawing without seeing, running my left hand over the bony prominences of my face, kneading the soft tissues, while drawing with my right. In this first, the empty sockets are coloured with the after image of pressing my eyes.

In the second of two pictures drawn in yellow, I imposed a green line showing what a face “should” look like: preconceived notions more than observation.

In her book At The Existentialist Cafe, Sarah Bakewell offers a bullet point summary of existentialism: that it is concerned with concrete human existence, different to that being other things have because we make choices and create ourselves, though constrained within situations. This is what Sartre regards as our being free. Anxiety is inseparable from existence. Human existence is ambiguous, both boxed within borders and transcendental.

I have known since I was seven

The Rabbits, by David Lynch

He who posts as Cakeordeath, endlessly informative on all things surreal, introduced me to this short film by David Lynch. This, though, is not so much surreal as permeated with existential dread, the haunting soundtrack comprising undulating chords punctuated by a muted engine siren, like a muffled scream.  Three people, expressionless in rabbit masks, make short gnomic statements that almost make sense.  It plays out like an episode of Friends, with characters coming on set pausing until the applause dies away and recorded laughter sounding unexpectedly at irrelevant moments.  We look down and in on the stage, so action plays out in a hutch, or a shoebox diorama.  I watched it in fragments and when I finished it, I found myself scribbling furiously in conte crayon on a sheet of cardboard.  I had been captivated by those two pools of light, from the table lamp to the right and the upright at the back.  At first I saw the colours as a sick turquoise and dull brown.  Only by drawing did I see the set is criss-crossed by shadows and varied hues, and standing out on the side table is a small lime green pot.

Who was on the phone?

It is still raining.

It has always been like that.

When did you go out?

I have known since I was seven.

It happens all the time.

There is no moon tonight.

I said it looks like it is still raining.

Where was it exactly, do you remember?

Is it that late?

Since then?

And getting darker.

An old warm rug.

A dog crawls.

Something’s wrong.

The dog crawls.

Lights blow out.

A wind.

Dark.