I have for a long time been interested in memory and how – in terms of its visual fidelity to the thing remembered – it is a rather poor draughtsman. I was thinking of this in terms of how I ‘see’ Oxford when I am remembering it – a street, a building and so on. The city is of course a place I have known well for many, many years and yet, if I try and draw a building (for example Magdalen Tower) or a street (such as the High), I realise very quickly, as I explore the image in my mind (and on the page) that what my mind takes as being Magdalen Tower and High Street has more in common with a ruin that the real thing. That is not to say I see a smouldering pile of blackened stones and charred twisted timbers, but rather, the image which comprises – in my mind at least – the whole, is in fact made up of miscellaneous fragments which are often unrecognisable or entirely out of sequence.
As with the work I did on Auschwitz, I decided to try and draw Oxford, and the following were made with my eyes closed.
In light of my Tour Stories: Oxford Destroyed project, I found these images particularly resonant, and I began to wonder what would happen if I did the same with text; free-writing about a building as I see it in my mind.