07 February 2012

Writing lines

Seeing this work by David Shrigley (here) brought to mind a time on the 210 bus, years ago, when the scruffy-looking man in the seat ahead of me was bent over a notebook, writing intently and intensely. I had a glimpse of the same words being written again and again, on line after line. He seemed more of a troubled person than someone making "a piece of art" - but sometimes they could be one and the same, could they not?

It also reminded me of a recent exhibition at the Freud Museum where Sharon Kivland paid her teenage son to copy out some lines from Freud's writings -- sentences about the mother-son relationship. The notebooks, each with one quote written again and again, were displayed on music stands in a circle at the centre of the room.

But mostly it will take people back to the punishment of "writing lines" at school. (What a waste of time! but so easy to measure the results, to ascertain that the task has been done.)

Yet Shrigley's lines are not "written" - not in joined-up (cursive) writing, with its smooth, rhythmic flow.  With each letter drawn separately, they look stabbed onto the paper. "Writing lines" might help with venting anger or frustration, or grappling with obsessiveness, but do they soothe a troubled soul?

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