The Reportage section of Varoom 17 carries work exploring the theatre of human rituals in public spaces. Here we expand this theme with Gwendi’s experience in Malaysia, and she responds to Varoom’s questions below:
BRIEF This reportage project was inspired by an illustration course I took at Central Saint Martins. On my recent travels to Malaysia I passed through a small market town. From my western perspective life there seemed strangely familiar, but played out with cultural differences that I wanted to record.
MATERIALS Pencil, marker, pen and ink.
RESEARCH I spent a few days getting to know people and observing and recording my surroundings before working on the final drawings. It was often hard not to be noticed as a reporter because people were as interested in me as I was in them.
PROCESS Drawings were done on location on an A4 pad, then coloured in the evenings and finished in Photoshop.
MOTIVATION Health and safety regulations can be an unhealthy obsession in western society. I was fascinated by the disregard of many of these conventions. Market women using wheelbarrows to ferry lemonade to their stalls, several people fitted onto single scooters, various animals on the loose in the busy market street including a pet python. The rabbits in the picture were so grungy that I didn’t want to go near them. God knows who they belonged to. Local kids seemed to pick them up from time to time.
DISTRACTIONS The jungle seeping into the town was intriguing and provided me with distracting material, figures and sensations.
RESISTANCES Taking out pen and paper in the streets made some a bit nervous initially – including myself. This improved after I had loitered in town for a few days and made myself known.
INSIGHT Capturing fleeting moments as quickly as they pass can benefit a drawing. It might become a little rough around the edges but all the better for it.
NUMBERS One: 1 toe bitten by a feral rabbit, 1 resulting argument about hygiene, and 1 bottle of antiseptic applied liberally.