Drawing the Still Point

  • Duncan Bullen (Presenter)

Activity: External talk or presentationInvited talk


This presentation proposes a self-reflective account of a body of drawings begun in 2009 and are ongoing. Each drawing consists of countless small, evenly spaced points made by a manual marking of the surface of white paper with pencils of different gradations in ordered sequences. I will reflect on the importance of dwelling and stasis. Drawing has become a way of slowing down the making process, allowing me to explore graphic, meditative, temporal, and visual possibilities with an economy of means. This practice's framework enacts restraint and limitation. It posits the innovative potential of a contemplative approach to artistic method in which staying still and staying with is critical.

The drawings are all composed of a grid that has been fashioned to provide an underlying structure. Characterised by repetition, these drawings impose a discipline, pace, and moment-to-moment awareness, which I liken to a form of mediative practice. Each drawing hovers on the edge of visibility; in so doing, they develop a deceleration of visual acuity through an activity in which countless tiny marks the size of pinpricks and the space between creating a visual field that may appear both full and empty. I will reflect on how a routine of regular methodical structured mark-making intensifies concentration on each small point in a field as a means of being present. I contend that the drawings materialise through a paradoxical activity of populating the paper's surface with measured, framed understatement that may act as a clearing space that activates a state of looking (being) fostered by meditative concentration.

I place the drawings in the context of a series of artist residencies that I undertook at the Eremo di Santa Caterina, a former hermitage on the Italian island of Elba between 1992 -2004 and more recent visits to Japan temples and gardens. I will reflect on how the compositional structure, form and methodology of these drawings grew from the experience of architectural environs in which stillness and silence are communicated and experienced.
Period9 Mar 2022
Held atSchool of Art and Media
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Drawing
  • silence
  • phenomenology
  • perception