I’ll be having an exhibition at The Young Gallery in Salisbury from 9th June until 25th August. It’ll be a solo show to augment the exhibition of British 20th century paintings, selected from The Arts Council collection by the gallery’s curator Peter Riley. My work will be shown in two large cabinets (very snazzy, new, glass, museum cabinets) and I have settled on a working title: ‘People being still somewhere’.
The drawings I plan to show will be a mix of framed silverpoint drawings, unframed silverpoint drawings and a selection of sketchbooks which will be open at pages containing drawings of people. I’ve yet to decide on which particular drawings to show but what all these have in common is that they are drawings of people being still and, in a way, that stillness is brought into view through the drawings.
Those people were present somewhere and are still present in the drawings even though the people themselves are gone. Drawings are always traces of things which are no longer here. I like to think of drawings as the traces of an event – the event being the time spent paying careful, and affectionate, attention to the presence of something or of someone. The drawing is never merely an illustration of what something looked like. Drawings acknowledge the presence of time and the presence of human touch.
The sketchbook drawings were done directly from life and so the presence of those moments and of the people in those moments are directly implied in all the lines and marks on the page. The silverpoint drawings have a subtler connection to that original moment of stillness. The camera image captures a moment but a drawing takes time to bring into being and they also take time for the viewer to see. Each little line and each little mark represents the passing of time. I hope people spend time with these drawings and wonder about the people the drawings represent.
The exhibition will run from 9th June until the 25th August. I shall be doing an ‘In Conversation’ about my work and also a number of Life Drawing sessions. Contact the gallery for details about these and/or following this blog for future details.
Also, I shall be teaching some Life Drawing workshops at the gallery and also an ‘in conversation’ talk. I’ll let you know when these are on closer to the time.
I’ll be having an exhibition at The Young Gallery, Salisbury, from 9th June until the 25th August. My work will be displayed in two very large display cabinets alongside an exhibition of paintings by British 20th figurative artists which will include works by Michael Andrews, Frank Auerbach, Patrick Caulfield, Lucian Freud, Howard Hodgkin, Ken Kiff, Leon Kossoff, Euan Uglow, David Hockney and Francis Bacon. My work will augment the main exhibition but will be, in effect, a small solo show.
As the deadline for hanging the work draws closer I have to make some decisions regarding what I’d like to show and why. At the moment I’m thinking along the lines of showing a number of sketchbooks, some framed silverpoint drawings and some recent unframed silverpoint drawings.
The image for this blog post is of three of these recent pieces.
These works are about the size of A5 and are drawn with silver on gesso on board. They’re based on found photographs of people photographed in Germany I the 1930s and 1940s. I’ve been finding the photographs separately and at different times in a junk shop in Cliftonville, Margate. I don’t know who the people in the pictures are or how their portraits made their way to Margate. I suspect that some of the people might have known each other. I can’t possibly know this for certain but I think it’s quite likely that some of the photographs came to the shop as part of a bundle, or a collection.
What we can tell about someone from the way they look? If they were alive in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s they would have had direct experience of life during the Nazi era of German history. How does knowing that my drawings are of German people living in that period of time affect our thoughts about what kinds of people they were? What became of them?
My drawings of these people are not simply copies of photographs but I have tried to be loyal to what I can make of their images. Perhaps I’m saying: “Here are people being still somewhere”. They were present in the moment captured by the camera image, and by drawing them I make them present as works of art, here and now. They are connected with Margate (my home town) by the fact that their images were found in Margate, but I wonder if there are other connections too. Who knows?
This drawing is a work in progress. If it reaches a conclusion it might take part in a show I’ll be having at the Young Gallery, in Salisbury, which begins on the 9th June. It is one of an ongoing series of drawings of unknown (unknown to me) people who were photographed in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s.
What can we tell about a person from how they appear to us? The repeated point of reference with each of these drawings are photographs found in a Margate second hand shop. I wonder what became of these people? I wonder what draws me to pay this careful and time-consuming attention to these traces of small moments in strangers’ lives? Why do I want to resurrect them through drawing?
I have about four weeks until I hang my work for a show at The Young Gallery, in Salisbury. This show has been on my mind for months but I’ve yet to settle on definite plan as to what to show and how to show it.
My work will be shown alongside an exhibition of work from the Arts Council collection of figurative painters. The main exhibition is called ‘20th century Figurative Art – Arts Council Collection’ and will include work by Michael Andrews, Frank Auerbach, Patrick Caulfield, Lucian Freud, Howard Hodgkin, Ken Kiff, Leon Kossoff, Euan Uglow, David Hockney and Francis Bacon. My work will be shown in large glass cabinets and will be a solo show. It runs from the second week in June until the 25th August.
The Young Gallery, in Salisbury, is my latest favourite art gallery. I have an old drawing on show in the ‘Members’ Choice’ exhibition there. This is an exhibtion of works selected from the gallery’s permanent collections.
The drawing is one from around 2001 and it was one which began a series of drawings about Margate that combined imaginary views of the town with layers of hand-written text (click on the ‘sea’ catagories listed to the top-right of the ‘home page’). The work is about memory and place.
The title of the piece is “Reculver seemed like the edge of the world to me when I was little…”. It contains layered hand-written sentences which begin with the line: “Reculver seemed like the edge of the world to me when I was little. You couldn’t always see it but you knew it was always there…”. Each re-writing of the text varies from the previous ones and each new layer partially obscures the previous versions.
This is the second time it’s been selected for an exhibition at The Young Gallery. I feel very honoured to have had people respond to the work so positively.
The Young Gallery deserves to be better known. It has four gallery spaces and recent shows include the touring Ikon Gallery and British Museum Kathe Kollwitz exhibition and a solo show of Anita Taylor’s amazing (and very large) drawings.
Go and have a look round The Young Gallery if you are in the area!
I don’t want to show you what I’m working on right this moment because it’s top secret, hush, hush.
So instead, here’s a picture of an ongoing metalpoint drawing which I continue to work on from time to time and which is part of a larger project about people seen in old photographs found in a Margate second hand shop.
There is a Margate connection with all of these drawings: some are definitely drawings of people who were in Margate at some point in time but others may never have been here and only their images ever found their way to The Isle of Thanet. For some reason or other their images were eventually placed in a junk shop in Cliftonville from where they came into my hands. Now I’m drawing them and wondering what connections there might be between me and them.
The photograph which this particular silverpoint drawing is based upon is an old photograph which was probably taken in Germany in the 1930s or 1940s. At some point in time it had been torn in half but then so carefully glued back together again that it wasn’t obvious at first that it had been torn in two. I want to find a way to get the fact of its partial destruction and its careful fixing into the stuff of the drawing itself – it’s an interesting artistic problem.
I’ve been looking through some drawings done as demonstrations for drawing exercises in my Life Drawing classes. The new term of Life Drawing courses at Margate Adult Education Centre starts this week.
This drawing is from a drawing exercise about relooking and moving on to the next moment. In this exercise the model holds a pose for a short amount of time and then moves to a second position and then back to the first and then back again to the second, three times over. In this drawing the model probably held the poses for about 15 seconds each time but the students usually get a minute and then 30 seconds each time. What the drawer is drawing is different each time and even if it were humanly possible for the model to reoccupy the exact-same pose the drawer will have changed their mind about what they find interesting, what they see and what they think. We look and make a decision and then we must move on to the next moment and let the drawing be what it is. The ‘finished’ drawing will be the traces of the accumulated decisions and there are always choices to be made (are we thinking about the edges, proximity, tone, angles, the course of a line, the character of the line, the weight of the mark, the sharpness, the touch… etc?). The line is a good line if it is an honest line responding to the changes of mind. In drawing a line we change our minds.
This exercise makes us more aware of the way that drawing ‘The Figure’ is never about drawing something complete and settled. All is in time and our line traces those moments and says “for this moment this was the case and this is as close as I could get to it”. Drawing like this acknowledges the fact that there are always multiple version of the same thing and our drawn lines don’t need to agree on the matter in order to be correct.
I teach Life Drawing at Margate Adult Education Centre, The Sidney Cooper Gallery (Canterbury Christ Church University) and occasionally at other places too. We presently need a few more people to enrol on the Thursday morning Life Drawing for it to be allowed to run and so book a place asap please if you’re interested.
Here is a link to the courses I teach at the Kent Adult Education: https://www.kentadulteducation.co.uk/brands/mnid_123/Mr-Roy-James-Eastland.aspx