Drawing sounds

I exhibited prints of my drawings of sounds at both Lustre and Richmond craft fairs, and it was interesting to see people’s reactions. Some people loved them, were fascinated by the concept, and bought prints. Others seemed to think I was crazy! I promised one couple that I’d explain on my blog the background to the prints they’d bought, and so here it is!

Last winter I did a short course at the City Lit: Drawing Sounds. At first the teacher introduced the concept and led exercises to help us explore how we might make marks that represented and responded to sounds.


Then we drew pieces of music that she played. The first image is a close up of one piece of music I drew: it was classical music, and this is just a small portion of the picture.

In this image I’ve photographed the original drawing at an angle, so that it almost becomes a landscape. It reminds me of an image of one of my necklaces actually.


On the third evening we went up on to the roof of the building which is in London’s Covent Garden. The noises of the city at night were amazing.

We each sketched the sounds we heard, and then when we could bear it no longer (it was freezing!) retreated to the classroom.


It was then time to use the sketches in our notebooks to compose our pictures. One of mine is shown above. I chose to represent the tiers of sound. The lower one shows the sounds of the streets below: traffic, voices, sirens. Above us were the sounds of the sky: planes, helicopters, wind. And then around us the air conditioning, people turning pages, footsteps on pebbles, and an increasing number of sniffs!

It was fascinating how each person focussed on different sounds and depicted them differently. We were all free to use the media we wanted. I used a mixture of pastels, marker pens and charcoal.


Several pieces of jewellery I’ve made have been based on these drawings of sounds, including my ‘Pebble Crunch Brooch’ in sterling silver with 5 diamonds, and a series of ‘City Streets’ pins, in oxidised silver and 18 carat gold.


 Really, when you think about it, drawing sounds isn’t such a strange concept: it’s no different to writing words, except there’s no agreement about which shape represents which sound!


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