coustic performers Andy Dillon and Tiffany opened the session with a short musical interlude that was easy on the ear; then Pieter Scholtz introduced the concept for the evening. “It’s not my intention to read the haiku; I thought it might be more interesting for me to ask Andrew some questions about his process and then he could reciprocate; after that we can open the discussion to the floor,” he said after giving a brief history on the classical Japanese form which developed in the 16th century and which follows strict rules. He mentioned that although we commonly refer to the haiku as having 17 syllables the Japanese ‘on’ is not really the same as a syllable.
“I had written a number of haiku and Andrew had a number of drawings; while the drawings do not actually illustrate the poems, they enhance or support the concepts, in some cases they extend an idea visually and so provide another way of looking at it. While originally I was keen for Andrew to provide precise illustrations he felt that the collaboration should be more open- ended; freer, and in the end I have come to appreciate how such an approach is beneficial,” said Pieter.
He then asked Andrew to talk about what inspires his work. “What I do, all the time, every day, is steal,” replied Andrew. “Anything visual I store away, cuttings from newspapers, magazines, anything. I look at them and a moment comes when I know how to process them into a piece of art. Then I choose the medium; anything can be expressed in a number of ways – embroidery, a radio play, a dance. But there is one form which is perfect: where the subject and the idea become one. I have been really inspired by a book called “The Shape of Content” by Ben Shahn which examines how to determine what the right shape is for any idea.”
Pieter then asked Andrew if he kept a note book to which Andrew responded: “My memory is fragile, so I make notes to trigger the beginning of something. But my choice of form or medium is totally intuitive; the language or medium is determined by the material, scale and content; they are all intertwined. You just know when you get it right.”
As mentioned before Pieter and Andrew had had some discussion around the fact that the drawings were not specifically produced to illustrate the poems but rather a selection of drawings had been made to complement them. “It’s important for the viewer to make the connections for himself. I can’t dictate what you should see. A work of art is only a stimulus to your own thoughts and there is no ‘right way’ to see anything,” explained Andrew.
The opening haiku probably best describes the whole book: ‘Twenty Five haiku, Flawed pearls strung on the minds thread, To make a necklace’. The poems are personal and introspective; the drawings a series of clean black and white images with strong African and Japanese roots. Together they make for a pleasant stroll through a series of thoughts that have found their shape and form.
The soirees on Mondays @at St. Clements are free to the public. Call 031 3682022 for more information.