Debby Bird “Mapping Unknown Lands”

“Mapping unknown lands”.

This new work for the exhibition has been brewing for a few years.

As part of my Drawing and Applied Art degree 2008 I made sets of non-figurative drawings using graphite dust and pencil exploring atmospheres and feelings. One that haunted me was prompted by the word “Longing”.

"Longing" graphite dust and pencil drawing.

It looked rather like a view in space or under the sea. Mostly darkness with a ray of hope surrounding an unseen form.

Re discovery of a 21 year old baby scan reminded me of that drawing and the mixed feelings of wonder and fear about the formation of a child’s body and mind within the dark water chaos of my own body.

scan image that became inspiration for "Mapping unknown Lands

The scanning process works on very similar principles to modern day mapping and consequently I decided to work on a piece based on these two starting points. “Mapping unknown lands”.

Another drawing that had mapping like contours and a knit like focus reminded me of the Psalm in the Bible.

"Formation" drawing with pencil and graphite dust.

“For YOU created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful I know that full well.” Psalm 139: 13-14

The word knit can also be translated as wove and many cultures have creation myths where the creator weaves the life of earth itself into being.

I decided that felting un- spun wool fibres has resonance with this concept of mysterious creation and would create the grainy abstract impressions of form that my drawings and the scan portray.

"Mapping unknown Lands" scan images 1,merino wool fibres, wet and dry felting process

The first pieces seemed flat like photos, so I decided to create vessels about the size and shape of a pregnant belly. One concave and very abstract mapping the inner worlds of heart and mind being formed and one convex mapping the bones and highland points of bones in the black sea of amniotic fluid. The margins of each piece are deliberately left organic and untrimmed.

A friend who did not know the subject matter wondered if I was working on the view from a telescope, the surface of the moon perhaps? I felt pleased that the half globes I created could be read as “unknown landscapes” in any scale. I’m looking forward to seeing them as part of this exhibition.

Light areas represent dense areas, dark areas fluid just as in a scan.


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