JONATHAN MCBURNIE ARTIST
W O R D S : C H R I S S I L V I N I P H O T O : E V A N M O R G A N
Why do we still draw by hand when we have access to so much technology that can do it all for us? That’s the question that inspired Townsville artist Jonathan McBurnie’s latest exhibition, which features a staggering 2000 works.
It’s taken three years for McBurnie to complete all the pieces that make up Dread Sovereign, which is now showing at Pinnacles Gallery. The sheer volume of images featured may sound a bit overwhelming, but that’s kind of the whole point.
“We live in such an image-based world now. The internet has really changed the way we consume culture and consume images. So it’s sort of like an analog or handmade response to that oversaturation or overstimulation,” he says.
McBurnie’s ability to produce that amount of work over a relatively short period was born out of necessity. H
e says his short attention span means that the idea of working on a piece for too long gets really boring really quickly.
“Rather than working on really large, elaborate works that take weeks or months, I try to work small and quickly with lots of drawing and lots of watercolour which are very immediate and don’t require much drying time,” he says.
“I suspect that we may see more and more artists working in that way in the future because I think the way we produce things and the way we think about things is changing with such prevalent use of digital media now.”
McBurnie says digital media and the oversaturation of images on things like social media mean there’s a lot more pressure on artists to produce better quality work in a shorter time than ever before.
“There’s so much media out there now, if you don’t have something that’s really punchy, and accessible, and explained really quickly you can just get lost in the noise,” he says.
As for the big question about why we still draw, McBurnie says there’s something about the act of drawing something by hand that can never be truly replicated with digital methods.
“It’s something that we’re very drawn to as humans that’s very tactile and sort of sensuous when we’re working with materials and working with our hands and our senses in that way. The digital can’t quite accommodate in the same way,” he says.
“I think both have their own unique qualities which is wonderful because you can push things a certain way with one or the other and get very different results.
“I feel like now, 15 to 20 years into making comic books with digital tools, there are some artists who are really getting the hang of it and really pushing it into new areas that people hadn’t previously gone, which is a wonderful thing.
“But at the same time there are some people who are doing absolutely amazing things with traditional media.
“We have kids that have been raised on iPads and they have a whole other understanding of the way that technology works. So it’ll be interesting to see what artwork they’re making in 10 or 20 years’ time.”