Guest Author Adrian Duncan on Writing and Drawing

While I was writing my second novel A Sabbatical in Leipzig, I found myself returning to a type of drawing I first encountered in secondary school, while studying for my Leaving Cert Technical Drawing course. Michael, the narrator of my novel is a retired bridge engineer and during his career he would have used the same sorts of drawing materials and methods I had encountered while doing this course in school. This kind of drawing is called descriptive and/or projective drawing and the materials I used then were things like tracing paper, clutch pencils, set squares, T-squares, compasses, etc. While I was writing and then editing the book, I returned to this kind of drawing again, doing small sketches in my notebook of simple states-of-affairs like a sphere beside a cube or a triangle leaning on another. Then after a few weeks of carrying out these small drawings in my notebook I decided I’d like to expand the drawings in scale.

I put these drawings (these projections) up onto the wall and realised the logic of the work collapsed into one large pattern with no real beginning or end.

One day, while I was in a hardware store looking for some paint I noticed in the timber supply section these large packets of thin A2-sized sheets of plywood. I bought a pack (of ten) and brought them back to my studio and laid the sheets out onto the ground and onto the middle sheet I drew, with colouring pencils, the plan view of an arrangement of simple shapes. Then, I moved around this plan view, projecting different viewpoints of it onto the neighbouring sheets of timber until all ten sheets were drawn upon. Then, I put these drawings (these projections) up onto the wall and realised the logic of the work collapsed into one large pattern with no real beginning or end. Then, in any downtime I had while working with Lilliput on the edit of the book, I’d start a new grid of drawings. The funny thing is that when I finished working on the book, I finished also making these drawings.

– Adrian Duncan is an Irish artist and writer. His first novel Love Notes from a German Building Site was published in 2019 by The Lilliput Press. This year it won the inaugural John McGahern Book Prize. Duncan’s second novel (also with The Lilliput Press) is called A Sabbatical in Leipzig, and it came out in March 2020. In 2019 he exhibited at the The Glucksman Gallery, Cork a set of photographic/sculptural works called Pyramids. In 2020 his and Feargal Ward’s film Tension Structures received its North American premier at Hot Docs, Toronto.

www.adrianduncan.eu

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