Another resting drawing

margate-people-postcard-1930s-silverpoint-drawing

This drawing is resting.  I stopped work on it a couple of months ago.  I might continue to work on it sometime in the future but for now it’s resting in a drawer.

The medium is silverpoint on gesso (click on ‘silverpoint’ on the list of categories to read about the medium) and it’s about the size of a sheet of A4 paper.  It’s based on a postcard, probably from the mid 1930s, of people dressed in fancy dress somewhere in Margate.  This drawing was to form part of a series of drawings based on images of people, with a Margate connection, dressed in costumes of some sort.  The idea was to have the drawings shown together and to allow people to make connections between the people in the different drawings and to bigger world events (the images I have in mind are from before or during The Second World War). It’s also to think about identity and what we imagine about others  based on the way they look.  I’ve worked on several versions of this image (and on sections of it) but for now the work is resting.  It might be years before work in this begins again.

Preparing to make new art work

folkestone-gotha-bomber-air-raid-25th-may-1917-tontine-streetI’m about to start on a new body of work and it’s going to take a lot of time.  My drawings take for ever to do.  It’s not just that the drawings that take a long time, it’s also that the work requires a lot of preparation and research even before making a mark.  A lot of the time my research doesn’t bare fruit as finished works of art (n fact, the majority of my work ends up as unfinished and abandoned) but this is how it is for me and this is my way of working: so be it.  I work within my means and so this will progress slowly as time and money allow.  I sometimes return to subjects after long periods of time of not working on them.  The May 1917 air raid (the so-called ‘Great Folkestone Air Raid’) is something I’ve repeatedly returned to and which I imagine I shall continue to return to for years to come.

Here are some images of work which has already seen the light of the gallery space and which I hope will be given more opportunities to be seen in exhibitions in the future.

This piece is called: “They looked like silver birds.  The sun was shining on them…”  The title comes from words of an eye witness account of seeing the German bombers high up in the early evening sun light and remembering that they looked like silver birds.  It was selected for The 2013 Jerwood Drawing Prize and it has also been shown in other exhibitions, including: ‘Telling Stories: Hastings’ (in Margate as an off-shoot of an exhibition at the Hastings Museum and Art Gallery curated by the writer and artist Cathryn Kemp); East Kent Artists’ Open Houses; ‘Remembering: We Forget’ (The Sidney Cooper Gallery, Canterbury), curated by Hazel Stone; and at the Pie Factory gallery space in Margate.

I hope this work will be shown in Folkestone one day.

Click on ‘Folkestone’ on the list of categories to see more.

If anyone out there happens to have any family stories connected with the air raid I would love to hear from you!

Go to the ‘about me’ section of this blog to find links to social media and my email address.  You can also write a comment at the bottom of this post.

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A new term of Life Drawing

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It’s at this time of year, as the new academic term is about to start, that I start to get anxious about student numbers and worry about whether of not the Life Drawing courses I teach, the ones I teach at Margate Adult Education Centre, will run or not.  If they don’t run I don’t get paid, and so I worry about money as too.

Margate Adult Education Centre is not well known locally.  It’s a shame because the Margate Adult Education Centre is such a lovely building, it has purpose built art rooms and its right in the centre of Margate.  It was built as an art college (an F.E. college) way back in 1929 (opened in 1931).  The room I teach Life Drawing in is the same room in which Life Drawing was taught from the 1930s until about 1970, when it became the ‘Hilderstone’ Adult Education Centre, and has continued to be used as a Life Room until now.  I’m the latest of a long succession of artists to teach Life Drawing in this space going back eighty-five years!

If rooms have ghosts then I’d like to imagine that this room’s ghosts are happiest whenever someone is in there drawing.  The room’s wooden, herringbone-pattern, floor is drawn with decades’ worth of scratches and scuffs from the dragged feet of easels, chairs and tables.  Scratches like this are a kind of drawing – they trace the presence of the others who were here before.

A dais, which models sometimes pose on, is the same dais pictured in a photograph of Portrait Drawing class taken in the room in 1931.   The teacher seen in the photograph advising a student is ‘Mr Willis’.  I’ve spoken to people who were students here in the early 1960s and all have fond memories of ‘Mr Willis’ (he was still teaching there until about 1964).  He would confiscate students’ rubbers (erasers for those of you who speak American English) if they used them too much in their drawings.  I wouldn’t go quite that far in my teaching practice but I like the idea.  The great Walter Sickert gave three talks on drawing in the building in 1934.  Sickert also insisted that students draw without rubbing out and to draw quickly, at least at the start of a drawing.  Mr Willis will have attended those lectures.

To keep all of the mistakes is to acknowledge that drawing is process of changing your mind.  Whenever we begin a drawing of someone we don’t really know what we are in the presence of.  We think we do.  We think we know what a person looks like but our first thoughts are usually the clichéd replaying of habits of seeing and drawing tricks.  We have to be prepared to change our minds about what we think we are in the presence of if we have any hope of getting our drawings to resemble our thoughts and perceptions.

Anyway, I’m hoping they’ll be enough students for the courses to be allowed to run and I wait to find out.

 

If you’re reading this and you live within striking distance of Margate, and fancy coming to my Life Drawing classes, go onto the Kent Adult Education website (https://www.kentadulteducation.co.uk/brands/mnid_123/Mr-Roy-James-Eastland.aspx) or find my facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Roy-Eastland-1495390357351370/) or twitter (https://twitter.com/royeastlanddraw).  I’ll be teaching courses here next term and in the future (including some all-day Saturday workshops).  I’ll also be teaching Life Drawing at the Sidney Cooper Drawing Studio in Canterbury (Canterbury Christ Church University). 

Drawings on display in Margate

Roy Eastland, Pie Factory gallery, MARGATE, The Luminous and The Grey, exhibition

Some views of my work in a recent group exhibition which I was invited to take part in at the Pie Factory gallery space in Margate.  The show was called ‘The Luminous and The Grey’.   It also included work by Shona McGovern (who has recently found out that she’s had a drawing accepted for the Jerwood Drawing Prize!), Helen Brooker, Jane Kullman, Tina Atchison-Thomas, Graham Ward and Penny Watts.

Click on the ‘silverpoint’ category (to the side of this post) to read more about the sort of work I had on show in this exhibition.

Thank you to everyone who came to the exhibition and to the other artists in the show who invited me to add my work to the exhibition!

Here is a link to my facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1729139147345839/

25th May 1917 Folkestone Air Raid

 

folkestone air raid 1917 Roy Eastland

 

folkestone air raid 1917

folkestone air raid 1917 Tontine Street bomb victims

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folkestone air raid 1917  25th May 1917

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At about twenty past six on the evening of 25th May 1917, a bomb was dropped from a German, Gotha, bomber which exploded in the midst of a queue of people waiting outside of Stokes’ greengrocers in Tontine Street, Folkestone.  Scores of people were killed and injured.  It’s a very sad story but I want people to know about it partly because it is such a sad story and partly because this story is similar to all those stories we hear all of the time about people caught up in bomb explosions.  This story can stand for many, similar, stories.

Here are some images of a piece I made a few years ago.  I continue to work on this project as time and money allow.  My earliest exhibited work on this subject was shown as part of a solo show I had at Margate’s Marine Studios in 2011.  It consisted of an entire wall covered with A5 pencil drawings and text about the people caught up in the various bomb explosions across Folkestone on that day.  This led on to another piece called: “They looked like silver birds.  The sun was shining on them…” (the title is a quote from an eye witness account referring to the sight of the German bombers high up in the evening sunlight).  This is a framed work consisting of small silverpoint portraits and handwritten text on gesso boards.  It has been exhibited in a number of places including: a gallery space on Margate pier (this was an off-shoot to the ‘Telling Stories: Hastings’, at the Hastings Museum and Art Gallery, curated by Cathryn Kemp); The Jerwood Drawing Prize 2013 (shown at The Jerwood Art Space, London, and at various galleries across the country); East Kent Open Artists Open Houses (part of the Canterbury Festival); ‘Remembering: We Forget’ (The Sidney Cooper Gallery, Canterbury) and ‘Memory’ (The Pie Factory, Margate).  I’ve had a lot of interesting feedback from people who have seen the work at these exhibitions and I’ve also been contacted be a couple of people who have family stories connected with the event.  I dearly hope to include these stories in future work.  I hope I’ve made a respectful work of art.

I have a lot to say about this work and I’ve written more about it on previous blog posts (click on ‘Folkestone’ on the list of ‘categories’ to find earlier posts).

Click on the images for a better view of them.

Margate drawing

surfboat disaster 1897 Margate.  ...my people humble people who expect nothing... EASTLAND 2016This is a very small (about 5 cm x 6.7cm) silverpoint drawing of ‘the lifeboat man’ statue which stands on the seafront on one end of Margate Sands (next to the Victorian shelter which has started to be called ‘the TS Eliot shelter’ by some).  The Lifeboat man looks out to sea towards the site of the 1897 ‘Friend to all Nations’ surfboat disaster.  It’s a familiar local landmark and it’s something I’ve looked at and half looked at countless times.  But my drawing isn’t specifically about that event; it’s more a drawing about my feelings about that point along the seafront.  It’s just a drawing.

The lifeboatman is the obvious central figure but behind the figure you can glimpse the Arlington House tower block (Margate’s ‘sky scraper’) and on the bottom left of the drawing you can see the top of the art deco fin of the Dreamland Cinema tower.  These features occupy the picture space as if they too were figures (which they are in a way).  I was careful to draw a separation between the figure of the Lifeboatman and Arlington House and the figure is drawn so that it can be seen as being part of the pictorial space and/or as a separate figure.  A lot of ideas come into play as I draw and these all have an influence on the way my drawings take shape.  Sometimes these ideas are sensed by the viewer and sometimes there are not: it doesn’t matter; it’s not an illustration of a view but more an attempt to create a kind of psychological souvenir of a particular place.

The statue was placed there over a hundred years ago (it’s been moved a short distance from its original setting but it still looks out towards the same point in the sea), Dreamland cinema was built a generation later and Arlington House a generation after that.  They all presently share the same moment in time but only the statue was there when TS Eliot was here (he is known to have stayed in Margate for a time when he was working on his poem,  ‘The Wasteland’).  The drawing is fragmented by the unevenness of its surface and by lines of words which have been repeatedly re-written across its surface.  The picture, then, is never a singular image of a view but a drawing which hints at other versions and other visions.  The words scribed onto and into the surface of the drawing happen to be from that section of TS Eliot’s poem which mention Margate and which, according to recent local tradition, was partly written in the Victorian shelter just by the side of the statue (next to the modern public toilet block which has the word: ‘TOILETS’ impressed into its concrete walls.

All views include elements of the past mixed with the present.  The details in this drawing bring various moments of time in company with each other in one little place.  But this is a lot to write about such a humble little drawing and it is only a drawing after all.  Then again, drawings are never just drawings anymore than poems are just pleasing lines of words or souvenirs just bits of bric-a-brac.

When I draw I like to use processes which bring unpredictability into the play.  This drawing has been repeatedly redrawn and its surface has been repeated sanded back, scribbled over and written over (both in silverpoint and also with etching needles which scratch into and fragment the drawing’s surface).  It’s a lot of work to put into such a little drawing.  I’m never really sure what it is I’m really trying to draw.

This drawing was done for its own sake but it might lead on to other things.  It has reawakened some a half-ideas I have to create panoramic drawings of Margate made up of various small drawings.  We’ll see.