The Blind Men and the Elephant

Travel Trunk

When our children were small we introduced them to stories. One of the stories "The Blind Men and the Elephant" came to us in an anthology of children's literature and told the tale as you might imagine of blind men visiting an elephant. It is an ancient story. I had heard the story many years earlier. 

At a time when I had just finished a very physical course in lithographic printmaking in which hands had played a very big part that connections were made. I was considering art making and my relationship within it when the idea of seeing with our hands really set in my mind.

As an artist I use my hands everyday, but was I seeing with them? Also, the idea that each person approaching an object or problem was able to make a completely different conclusion or that one object could make different images all at the same time resonated for me. I wondered how something as large and well defined as an elephant could be seen in so many ways.

Working with these ideas I decided to lay loose canvas over an object and roll over the surfaces with a common house painters fuzzy roller. I was aware of the process of rubbing to record surface textures on flat objects but not to render all sides of an object on one surface  and then return the canvas to flat. I think my time spent in drafting offices working with the orthographic drawing process also helped in making these leaps possible. I decided to modify the tone of the colour slightly at each surface and see what would happen. The record was shown at the Anna Leonowens Gallery, Halifax.

You can also see my entry called Spaceman which illustrates the same process but uses crayons and paper for finer objects.  Spaceman .