Skin is a beautifully moving series, by artist Kim Anderson, that consists of highly detailed drawings of aging hands. Created by copic liner (or ink pens) on washi (a type of Japanese paper made from the bark of the gampi tree), each set of hands holds stories we can only begin to imagine but ones that the artist is already quite familiar with. You see, each set of hands belongs to people the artist knows very well. As she says, “They are the hands of people very close to me.”
If you’ll notice, the titles of each piece are simply numbers, which you may have guessed are the actual ages of people she’s drawn. Also, the Japanese washi was chosen as Anderson’s canvas instead of standard paper for its texture, malleability and translucency of skin. “It has a warmth and tactility that makes it seem almost alive,” she says.”My drawings are enhanced by the extraordinary qualities of the washi, its diaphanous nature creating nuances of light and texture as it constantly floats and drifts in the air currents.”
Anderson chose to show the details of the hands for many reasons. As she explains to us, “Our hands are in constant contact with the rest of the world, more worn and creased than anywhere else on the body apart from perhaps our feet. They are tough yet sensitive, dexterous and yet somehow vulnerable, and highly demonstrative of complex emotions. Through constant wear they bear the inscriptions of our life experience, our passions and fears and memories layered over one another like a palimpsest.”
“Stretching, shrivelling, creasing and cracking as we move through the stages of our lives, it serves as a topographical map of everything that has ever happened to us. I search for the precious memories that linger in the fingertips, and discover the momentarily forgotten pain of loss in the creases of the knuckles. I am privileged to examine so closely the minute details of another's physical body to an extent that they themselves will never do, and hope that I am able to tell their story truthfully and sensitively.”
Recently, select pieces in this series have been been recognized for their excellence. “58” was selected as a finalist in the Hazelhurst Art Award (96 out of 760 were shortlisted). Also, “32” and “90” are finalists in the Agendo Emerging Artist Award.
For those who would like to see these highly detailed hands in-person, they will be showing at the La Trobe Visual Arts Centre in Bendigo (Victoria, Australia) in January and February next year.
32 and 11 months