Drawing in the Dark, BBC Radio 4

Drawing in the Dark - Stephanie Smith charcoal canvas BBC Radio 4 artist Sunderland North EastEyes closed. Air through your nostril, tension in your left eye. A tremor moves within you, translates from your cheek down to your jaw. Your hand holds the charcoal, and you scratch the canvas where the feeling tells you. Repeat, explore, repeat, explore.

There is no “pretty”, there is no “right” — there is no editor when you draw without eyes.

Drawing in the Dark - Stephanie Smith charcoal canvas BBC Radio 4 artist Sunderland North East Sabby Lou

Stephanie Smith, a visual artist based in Sunderland, has spent the past 8 years developing a new practice called “artistic synesthesia”.  Her work involves inviting participants to close their eyes and put charcoal to canvas, to really feel the tactile sensations in their faces & bodies.

In this documentary for BBC Radio 4, Stephanie guides established artists and new participants alike through her practice.

Because participants don’t see their work, and are “drawing in the dark”, they begin to stop “editing”, and worrying how things are going to look.  They stop relying on the visual, and start to explore their own bodies & sensations in an impactful way.

Drawing in the Dark - Ola Olayanju Shola Stephanie Smith charcoal canvas BBC Radio 4 artist Sunderland North East

These paintings, these scratchings onto thick paper tooth, are interlaced with the stories,
backgrounds and memories of the artists; an experimental montage that follows the speed, the rhythm, the stresses and compresses of the impressions on the canvas.