Today I came across the Monster Engine – have you heard of it? It’s the brainchild of a guy called Dave Devries, who takes children’s pictures of monsters and interprets them ‘realistically’:
It made me think back on my own drawing experiences as a kid. Personally, I remember clear images in my head that it was my pens’ job (or my coloured pencils, or – bless their memory – my felt-tips) to get onto paper.
Obviously, the marks on the paper wouldn’t have matched the mental image – to start with. But (perhaps this is the magic of grown-up art too?) the concept and the art were flexible – one grew or transformed as the other did, held together by one fact: the idea and its manifestation were my creations: products of my imagination.
An important rule in our household (we all spent a lot of time drawing) was that you did not disrespect someone else’s work by scrunching it up or cutting it or adding your own bits. Which is perhaps, in a way, what this project is, on a large scale.
Here is a video of Devries talking about this stuff. In it, he makes mention of the way he works with kids – so I guess we can believe that, consciously at least (*provocatively*), the kids involved didn’t have a problem with the fact that their creations had been taken out of their hands.
‘I approach a kid and I talk to them about their ideas’, says Devries, ‘and i put all my experience and energy into it … it becomes this thing that they can see.’ He implies that this process ‘helps kids with their fears’.
I’m no child psychologist, but I do wonder … In the scheme of things, does it? Or does it simply hijack their own imaginations??