Seven Senior Citizens, 2015/17

The man-made temple caves near Aurangabad in India are the size of small supermarkets. Carved into the far end of one of these is a frieze of seven Buddhas, duplicated into seven identical seated representations.

To facilitate working in the dark caves, the original sculptors reflected light from the entrance by flooding the cave-floor, before eventually draining it away when the work was complete. I found seven pencils to draw with and the awkward results began a train of thought that generated this series. They attempt to re-imagine the seven Buddhas complete with their vanished reflections.

The drawings were made in combinations of seven hard pencils and although I could not claim a comparison with the purposeful chisels of the original sculptors, their effect ranges nevertheless between barely visible traces and accidentally deep scrapes and incisions. The ellipses that appear across the drawing are markers, laid down beforehand, to guide my path. In the later drawings these ellipses mutate into the optical ‘floaters’ that now swim across my vision. ‘Floaters’ are shadows on the retina caused by macular debris and are fairly common, many people have them, but here they develop in importance and definition, compromising the view of the seated Buddhas.

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