The Procession

The Procession

The Procession is a composition that came to me almost fully-formed as I was starting to drift off to sleep one night. I scribbled a very rough version down the next morning in biro in a notebook (to make sure it didn’t slip from my memory), and started work on it shortly afterwards.

This is the largest drawing I’ve attempted for many years, so it feels like quite a departure from my recent work. I’m not sure where it will lead.

I knew from the start that the figure at the front (at the far left of the drawing) would be blindfolded, and would be a variation on the Blindfolded Seeress character I’d used before. The obvious reference is some sort of play on “the blind leading the blind”, but this wasn’t my point of reference. I wanted a blindfolded figure leading the procession because it implies something other than sight as the means of determining the direction of the procession. And blindfolded (with a slight smile, so not a captive or under duress) rather than blind implies a voluntary and temporary forsaking of the sense of sight.The procession is therefore pre-planned and heavy with significance: a ritual activity.

The second, hooded, figure was based around my Shapeshifter photographs from 2013. The model for these was the same woman who modelled for the Blindfolded Seeress photographs (used as reference material for the blindfolded character at the front) so I changed the features for two reasons: firstly so that the same person didn’t appear twice in the drawing (which would have been visually confusing) and secondly because I wanted a mixture of male and female celebrants. The smudged black makeup across the figure’s eyes deliberately echoes the leader of the procession’s blindfold, and while his vision isn’t restricted in the same way, he isn’t looking in the direction of procession, but rather off at a tangent.

The third figure is based on the Crow Priestess from 2014. Her mask continues the theme of some sort of covering across the eyes of the celebrants. The fourth and last of the main figures is based on my 2012 Medea photographs. She is the only character whose eyes aren’t literally or symbolically covered, and also the only character in the composition to stare directly at the viewer. A final male figure is visible behind her, but the procession could include many more people “out of shot”.

The lighting of the composition is a low-angled light coming from an angle behind the figures, off to the left-hand side of the paper. This indicates the sun hanging low in the sky—my intention was shortly after sunrise or sunset, I still haven’t decided which—and, by being “behind” the figures from the viewer’s point-of-view, allows me to introduce a lot of shadow into the foreground of the composition.