This is an image from an Ipad camera of a part of the Life Room at Margate Adult Education Centre in Hawley Square, Margate.
Drawings can be like little poems; they can stand alone as intensely troubled-over, individual, works of art in their own right.
This tiny drawing is of a chalk stack at Botany Bay near to where I live. The piece is about 5cm by 6.5cm in size and it is drawn with silver on gesso on card. I might make a series of drawings of this stone. We’ll see. This work stands on its own but it shares themes in common with lots of my work: presence and the passing of time.
The tides and the weather are slowly eroding this chalk stack away to nothing. In time it will no longer figure in anyone’s line of sight. This familiar (familiar to me at least) feature on the high tide line makes me think about time and about change over the course of time – it can stand for that.
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.
I’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.
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.
We have to change our minds when we draw and the mistakes are just the evidence of those changes – they are virtuous things really and they need to be in play in our drawings if we are to make an honest drawing. When we begin a drawing of someone we don’t really know what we are in the presence of. We think we do but we don’t. We think we know what a person looks like but our first thoughts are usually just our habits of seeing and our 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).
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/