Towards the Perfect Circle

paperback sketchbook, oak gall ink
December 2008

Since returning from living in Rome in 2005 I have become increasingly interested in negotiating ideas of influence, particularly in national, cultural and geographical terms. A year spent living abroad led me to question what ‘Englishness’ and ‘authentic’ might mean in such a plural, international age.

I returned to thinking about drawing, and the manual production of line. Drawing shares this activity with handwriting, which is a culturally and socially codified way of handling line. Writing embodies language itself, as well as nationally standardized styles. I decided to teach myself a self-consciously old fashioned English style of handwriting, English Roundhand, as an exercise in examining my own, naturalized way of handling line. Roundhand was historically considered both a virtuous personal accomplishment and practical commercial asset. A skilled hand was social currency, with elegantly flourished and correctly executed penmanship functioning as a visual equivalent for English codes of behavior. This enquiry lead to the production of numerous books of drawings, of which ‘Towards the Perfect Circle’ is one. This book is filled with pages of practice at striking the letter O. In this case at least, the cultural becomes natural by way of repetitive practice.