Sketching Wordstock

Drawing readings and writing...

At a sold-out Wordstock, writers’ organisation 26’s one-day festival, my task was to respond in sketches to the afternoon’s conversations, creativity and sharing of words.

Part of the Bloomsbury Festival, the event was held at the beautiful Conway Hall library. Which presented two challenges:

Libraries require pencil. I like pencils. People give me pencils. I’ve even talked about pencils on a comedy stage. But they’re not my usual medium. My fast, gestural style commits to a line. So I packed a Blackwing (the Harley Davidson of pencils), a 9B for a strong, black mark – and I’d done a practice run.

Libraries are not for cluttering. The designer in me couldn’t resist finding an appropriate format so I made sketchbooks and cut paper the size of bookmarks. Old dummies and samples, workshop spares and offcuts were casebound, three-hole sewn and stitched on my sewing machine. There were translucent pages as thin as bible paper brought into service for words about time, and seed paper did duty for talk of nature.

I find that drawing live at events complements photography. I can pare things down to a few lines, respond to readings and add snippets of words. I often describe sketching as my way of looking – but at Wordstock, it was my way of listening.