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The Independent Free State billboard has attracted some ‘exuberant’ comments including:

‘Free it up ………. ..surrender your walls , the people must draw !’

‘love the vibe’

‘Cool kids – where do I get my passport?’

Post-‘Village Green’: a moment to reflect – a pause before the next phase. The billboard has been out on tour for 3 days now. I’ve had to let go of it, send it out into the world and await the photos and GPS tracking documentation. Also in the pipeline: a time-lapse sequence of the entire live event.

The live event really ‘happened’. I’d put into place so many contingency plans to enable children to draw – in the event, they totally got it and went with it and very little ‘management’ was required. Around 80 individual children made drawings on the day. The thing just grew organically as the space was filled. So at the start there were some big bold drawings then as it progressed drawings were scaled naturally by the children to fit any available space. Young children have natural composition skills – an innate sense of what ‘looks right’ that we sadly lose as we grow-up and over-thing and over-rationalise everything…and learn to distrust our intuition.

The resulting drawings were joyful and exuberant  – the children were asked to draw: ‘something that looks human but isn’t human…’ this crowd of hybrid figures then ‘became’ the occupants of the Independent Free State. The collaboration between the existing artist drawings of hybrid ‘automaton’ figures and eclectic historic, pre-historic and global-cultural appropriations and the children’s freed up figures was frenetic, exciting.

Every child was first asked to make a drawing on blue graph paper on a red clipboard – this helped them to focus on what they wanted to draw – the drawing was then given a red ‘Independent Free State’ stamp – a kind of validation  – a ‘passport entry’ for the Wall – the billboard. This functioned as a kind of pseudo bureaucratic ‘permission’ to ‘go for it’. Which they then did.

Being asked to imagine a non-human human was a brief of sorts – there had to be some parameters otherwise we’d have got cliche cartoon (Pokemon) characters and bad graffiti ‘tags’. I observed how respectful the children were of each others space, the other drawings. Although they were not told they could not add to or draw over other drawings, it was clear they are schooled enough not to ‘go over the lines’. Which is something that could certainly be challenged. I’ve worked with students before where they’ve been asked to co-draw ie work on the same drawing and/or develop each others drawings. It’s a fascinating exercise in personal space and boundaries of course but also of your own sense of authorship/ownership. It’s not easy.

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