May 1, 2015
I’ve had an article published in the ‘Easel Words’ section of the May/June edition of The Jackdaw magazine. The art critic, Laura Gascoigne, saw my work in the ‘Traces’ exhibition at Millennium and asked me to write something about my work for the Jackdaw art magazine. This is what I wrote:
Roy Eastland: I make drawings.
I’ve been working on an ongoing series of small silverpoint drawings of heads. They were exhibited in a solo show at Millennium St Ives, Cornwall, at the end of 2014. The drawings are based on photo booth and bus pass images of my mum. Most of these photographs were never actually used for bus passes because they captured the unflattering mistimed moments between the automatically-timed camera flashes. They remind me of familiar facial expressions and moods. My drawings are based on these images but they are really about the presence of a person and about a few, otherwise unnoticed, moments of a life.
I’ve fallen in love with the archaic and labour-intensive medium of silverpoint. Silverpoint drawings are made by drawing a point of silver wire across a prepared surface. A silverpoint line is actually the trace of a chemical reaction caused by the touch of the metal point on the gesso-primed surface. The drawings are done on boards coated in layers of gesso made from rabbit skin glue, chalk and zinc white (the preparation of these boards takes a long time and is almost a craft in it self). The portraits are twice the size of the heads in original photo booth images (approximately 5cm x 5cm). The gesso surfaces are drawn on with the silverpoint and scratched into with etching needles, scalpel blades and sandpaper. The drawings gradually emerge through a repeated process of loss and remaking. The process mimics certain aspects of the way memories are formed over time and the way stories survive and are passed on. The final version of each drawing shows the traces of earlier, and different, versions of the same image. Each of the drawings contains a block of hand-written text (made up of lines of remembered speech and familiar stories). These sentences are repeatedly scratched away and rewritten and so become fragmented and hard to follow. Certain words, phrases and fragments of stories remain more strongly present in the drawings as a consequence of their repeated re-writing; even so, their presence is always fragile.
The delicacy of silverpoint makes it an appropriate medium for an art about presence, trace and memory. Silverpoint lines cannot be rubbed out but the surface on which they are drawn can be scratched away. When freshly made, silverpoint lines are a mid-tone grey but they slowly turn a warm grey-brown as they continue to oxidise over time. This slow, subtle and ongoing change is also suggestive of the presence of the passing of time. Silverpoint is a gentle medium: pressing the point harder will not make the line darker or its presence any stronger.
I make drawings. It’s what I’m most interested in and it’s what I do. Drawing, for me, is an affectionate act of paying careful attention to the presence of things. Whenever anyone asks me what kind of art I do I can never give a one line answer; the best I can come up with is that I draw.
You can find a video tour of ‘Traces’ (the exhibition referred to in the article) if you go to the Millennium website and navigate your way to the exhibition tour. http://www.millenniumgallery.co.uk/royeastland/royeastland.htm You can find more on my facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Roy-Eastland/1495390357351370?ref=hl
Here’s a link to the Jackdaw website (it’ll tell you there how you can get hold of a copy): http://www.thejackdaw.co.uk/?page_id=13
October 27, 2014
I’ve been given a small solo show at Millennium St Ives. I’m not going to be able to get down there to see it but the Millennium gallery will make a video tour of the show and so I’ll get to take a virtual walk around the show once they’ve posted that on their website (here’s a link to the gallery site: http://www.millenniumgallery.co.uk/traces/royeastland.htm ).
The show is called ‘Traces’ and it consists of three small solo shows of artists’ drawings. The other artists are: Sax Impey and Peter Randall-Page. It continues until the 25th November.
See/’like’ my facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Roy-Eastland/1495390357351370?ref=hl
My work in this show consists of eleven drawings. Eight of these are portrait drawings and three of them could be described as landscape drawings.
The ‘landscape’ drawings are small, no bigger than postcards, and are about Arromanches, Normandy, in 1944. More specifically they are about my memories of my dad’s memories of being in Normandy in 1944. Their starting point is a small collection of postcards and tiny photographs of the town which were brought back as souvenirs. As is typical of a lot of my work, these pieces come about through repeated re-drawing. They are about memory located in a particular place.
The portraits (and their hand-written blocks of text) are done in silverpoint on gesso. The starting point for these portraits are photo booth images of my mum taken in the 1980s and the 1990s. The work is about presence. I think, perhaps, all of my artwork is about presence. Photo booth images record moments spent alone with ourselves. The old photo booths used to give you a set of four pictures and you would use the least-bad ones. Sometimes they capture moments when the automatic flash photograph was miss-timed. Such images sometimes reveal facial expressions that are much more interesting than the properly posed ones. This is the case with the images I’ve used as reference for these drawings. I could go into great detail about each of these drawings but I would rather leave the viewers to make up their own minds about them.
I showed four of these in a Drawing show at LIMBO, Substation, in Margate and it was interesting to listen to what others made of them. Unfortunately, I’m not going to have the time or the money to get down to St Ives to chat to people about them. Photographic reproductions don’t give you the half of what is really present in these drawings (I’ve yet to find a way to photograph silverpoint drawings) and so I hope people get to see these for real and to spend some time with them. I’m very excited about them being on show at Millennium St Ives.
September 12, 2014
Here are some pictures of Margate Adult Education Centre. The Margate Adult Education Centre is right in the town centre, on the corner of Hawley Square (a pretty Georgian-period Square with some lovely old trees on the green).
I teach Life Drawing here on Wednesday mornings and Thursday evenings. I also teach a few all-day sessions here and people come from as far away as London and Essex to come to them. I love it, and I love teaching in this building. It was built in 1929 and was opened, as ‘The Thanet School of Art’, in 1931. It became an Adult Education Centre (known then as ‘Hilderstone’) in the 1970s and has been used for Kent Adult Education classes ever since.
Life Drawing has been practiced in this very same ‘Life Room’ for 83 years!
Hardly anyone knows about the place.
I’ve posted some more pictures of the place on my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Roy-Eastland/1495390357351370?ref=hl
Anyone interested in coming along should contact the centre (01843256220) or go to the Thanet section of the Kent Adult Education website (www.kentadulteducation.co.uk).
July 13, 2014
‘SUBJECT TO CHANGE’, the Drawing exhibition at LIMBO Arts in Margate, has just come to an end. It gave me the chance to show my most recent work, to discuss the work and to look forward to my small solo show, at Millennium St Ives, in the autumn. Thank you to Daniella Turbin, Selina Bonelli and LIMBO for having my work in the show. Here is another one of the four silverpoint drawings I had in the show. I’ve posted a video of it on youtube and on my ‘Roy Eastland’ facebook page.
July 1, 2014
I’m taking part in an exhibition, in Margate, from Thursday 3rd July. It’s at LIMBO, Substation Project Space, Bilton Square (a small courtyard tucked away just off the High Street). The exhibition focuses on Drawing. It shows a diverse range of approaches to Drawing and includes works which will evolve and develop as the exhibition continues.
It’s called: ‘SUBJECT TO CHANGE’ and it runs from 3rd July until 13 July and is open between 12 and 5pm each day. The other artists are: Dan Bass, Selina Bonelli, Greig Burgoyne, Jenny Core, Tania Robertson, Venessa Larsen, John Jo Murray and Daniella Turbin (it has been organised by Daniella Turbin).
I’ll be showing a set of silverpoint drawings and some sketchbooks. The silverpoint drawings are the first four of a series of drawings for a small solo show at Millennium gallery in St Ives in the autumn.
May 20, 2014
‘East Kent Daily Time Slip’ is one of the series of small drawings relating to my memories of my dad’s memories of Normandy in 1944. There would always be a stock of ‘time slips’ on the mantelpiece along with ‘the biro’ (which was always there). Dad worked on the buses and ‘time slips’ were little sheets of paper printed with columns and with the words: ‘East Kent Daily Time Slip’ across the top. They were made for recording working hours on East Kent buses, but at home they were for writing notes and for drawing on. I got to know the view of Arromanches from the sea through seeing it being drawn (a straight biro-blue line for the sea; above it, another line which dipped in the middle to represent the cliffs and the town; and there was a building to the left with the pointed roofs, the water tower, something on the hill to the right, and the place to one side of the middle which had to be destroyed to make space for the tanks and trucks get through …and so on).
In common with the other drawings in this series, this drawing has been repeatedly re-worked. The central image is of a wave hitting the seafront at Arromanches. Its starting point was a tiny photograph of the storm-battered seafront which was, presumably, taken before the war. It was one of the souvenir pictures he brought back with him (along with a tiny photograph taken from the high ground to the East and a handful of pre-war postcards.
I’ve repeatedly re-drawn this picture to understand and imagine this place which I know through stories and memories of simple drawings done to show what it was like.
It will be on show, along with other, related, drawings, in: ‘St Ives joins West Bay’ at The Old Timberyard, West Bay in Dorset (from 24th May until the 8th June 2014). http://www.theoldtimberyard.com/
I’ve posted something about it on my facebook page as well: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Roy-Eastland/1495390357351370?ref=hl#!/pages/Roy-Eastland/1495390357351370
March 19, 2014
I’m working on some ideas for a small solo show at Millennium St Ives in the autumn.
Also, I’ve set up a facebook ‘page’ and you’re welcome to ‘like’ it and follow that as well as this blog. Here’s a link to it: https://www.facebook.com/search/results.php?q=Roy+Eastland&init=public#!/pages/Roy-Eastland/1495390357351370