Abstract Nostalgia (Childhood Series #1)

After a month long of association with places that express solitude, intimacy and congregation, a new concept of exercise was introduced. The shift in the focus of the exercise itself had me inherently reluctant. But that’s how I have always been. A change isn’t something that I look forward to, but once familiar with, I embrace it genuinely ad get so comfortable with it that it has me wondering at my initial resistance. And as always the initial nagging feeling vanished on knowing the theme of the said exercise, which was childhood memories of a decade old. These memories would serve as a starting point to develop collages and drawings that visualise my childhood home and the context within which it was set.

Prior to creating these visual representations, I had another task at hand, which to recollect and choose the memories of a place of strong association of my childhood. The choice of my grandmother’s home had presented yet another complexity. Having frequently visited the place along the years, it became difficult to segregate the specific memories of the place and my life from a decade back. Thus, I put into use the childhood photographs, that I had procured for the purpose of a previous exercise, to help in the process of remembering the time specific incidents of my life. This provided a boost to kickstart the new exercise.

I began with the task of representing the neighbourhood of my childhood home through a monochromatic drawing. Being well acquainted with the surrounding over the years, its layout and road network struck the mind almost immediately. But, the task of enlivening the place with my memories was not an easy task. There was a back and forth between referring to photographs that sparked certain scenarios and memories, and sketching the memories that were most dear to me. Thus, eventually, the blank canvas sprang to life, with my miniature figures filling it with the antics that I had done across the neighbourhood ten years ago. Each of the activity was depicted at a scale, larger than the building and other spatial elements to lay visual emphasis on it, through postures or still images that best emoted the scenarios. For instance, in iteration 1, the memory of playing street cricket was represented simply through a long pitch and three wickets, with one being stumped by a ball. Despite the lack of human figures, the dynamism of the ball and thus, the liveliness of the activity itself is brought out.

Iteration 1: Monochromatic drawing- The choice of representation through miniature sketches allowed to accommodate the large number of associations I had with the place.

Gaining review on it brought attention to the shortcomings in the technique of representation. The lack of differing line weight and multiple miniature sketches failed to emphasis on the hierarchy of focal elements, from the most dear memories to the lesser, to the basic layout the space. Thus, the second iteration focused on plainly incorporating these elements. In doing so, it had become a plain representation, instead of one that brought the character of the space as I had imagined it. The inability to express the general character of the neighbourhood in being green and rural was attained by including domestic cattle and a layer of color.

Iteration 3: The layer of color clearly portray the natural and green setting, while creating a contrast for the monochromatic drawings to be emphasised better.

Zooming in to focus on the childhood home, a collage was to be created by abstracting the associations with it. Generally, my process of making a collage would entail mentally deciding on the overall layout of the elements and its aesthetic appeal, before physically starting its making. But, the schedule for having a workshop with the entire class, to make the collage spontaneously, changed that process. The initial hours of the workshop involved short time limits to create individual elements relating to different associations with the house like light and shadow, sound, smell etc. This resulted in elements that bore out of immediate impulsive impressions, which I now believe are the truest expressions of it, being untainted by the intellectual memory. The end of the workshop was preceded by reflective discussions along with light hearted conversations that made learning more fun than obligatory. It was followed by another time constraint task to assemble the elements into a composition. At the end of it, I had realised how the quickness in its making had positively impacted its representation. Thus, the reservation in making collages due to the long hours spent on it was washed way as I got introduced to a more meaningful process.

Carrying the point of improving the composition style and representation from the review, I attempted different representation of the elements within constricted time limits. While the individual elements seemed appropriate, peer discussions made me realise that the overall composition seemed pale due to the pastel colors used. Attempts to use bolder colors and materials resulted in the final iteration.

The iterated attempts at improving the same compositions made me look in awe at the different representations of the same that I could come up with. The culmination of the exercise showed that creating abstract representations had, in fact, created more real and lasting impressions of the memories, because only a sound memory of a real one could allow for any modification in it.

Collage: All the three iterations showcase different representation of the same theme, i.e., My Childhood Home.

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