Thirty-three days’ work over three months and still no closer to an end of it. This is the sixteenth of my series of ‘Displaced Portraits’. As with the other silverpoint drawings in this series, this piece is based on a photograph found in a local second-hand shop. The writing on the back of the photograph dates this individual to 1942 and places her in Brünn (now called Brno) in what is now The Czech Republic. The handwriting on the back of the photograph is written in German. The German population of the town were expelled after the war. Drawing carries on…
Life Drawing is coming back to the Life Room at the Margate Adult Education Centre, Hawley Square, after a break due to the COVID-19 lockdown. The essential characteristic of Life Drawing is that it is the act of drawing a physically present person, and so the coronavirus lockdown made Life Drawing an impossibility everywhere. Now, the Margate Adult Education Centre is reopening and Life Drawing can begin again in the wonderful Life Room at the Margate Adult Education Centre.
I like to think of this room as having good ghosts – the ghosts of all the moments of concentration and the moments of carefully noticing the presence of someone being still. The space has been used for Life Drawing classes, more or less continuously, since the building opened in the 1930s and it would have been a crying shame if COVID-19 had put an end to that story of Life Drawing taking place there.
The new Life Classes will be smaller than before, and I shall have to adapt my way of teaching to allow for safe distancing, but I’m looking forward to drawing and teaching there again. The courses will run on Wednesday mornings from 10:00am until 12:30pm. The two and a half hours is a good amount of time and the natural daylight in the room creates a lovely atmosphere in which to see and to draw.
My classes typically include a mix of short drawing exercises and demonstrations as well as longer drawings. The mix of students is very broad and includes practicing artists as well as people who have done very little drawing.
If you want to see what the room is like, you can find a couple of videos on my youtube channel and also you can find still images on this blog if you scroll back or click on the ‘Life Drawing’ category on this site. Please book your place as soon as you can if you’d like to come to these sessions. Hopefully see you at the Life Drawing!
My silverpoint drawing, ‘Empire Day’, is on show again at the C24 Gallery in Chelsea, New York. It’s one of a number of drawings based on a 1930s photograph, taken in Margate, of a group of mostly young people in fancy dress. The occasion is probably an ‘Empire Day’ event. In it we see men dressed as women, white people ‘blacked-up’, people dressed as ‘funny foreigners’, ‘working class types’, clowns, a ‘gypsy’ fortune teller, and even a member of the Klu Klux Klan!
The drawing was selected for the ING Discerning Eye exhibition by Kwarme Kwei-Armah and then included in ‘The Seventh View’ exhibition at the C24 Gallery in New York. The exhibition continues until 24th September.
“Displaced Portrait No12 (mother and baby, Adolf-Hitler Str., Duren)”, has been selected for the Wells Art Contemporary 2020. This is one of an ongoing series of silverpoint drawings of people seen in photographs, taken in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, and which have found their way into my hands via a second-hand shop in Cliftonville, Margate (UK).
The photographs were found separately on numerous trips to this particular junk shop over the course of years. There is no way of knowing if any of these people ever knew each other or how their images made their way to Margate. The photograph on which this drawing is based has an address in Adolf-Hitler Str., Duren printed on the back.
I have previously shown this drawing as part of my ‘Margate Now’ art festival exhibition, “Displaced Portraits”, at Gordon House, Margate.
I’ve written more about this body of work on previous post and so please scroll down to find them. I’ve also made some short videos about these drawings which you can find on my Youtube channel: ‘Roy Eastland – Drawing’.
Since the coronavirus lockdown has put an end to Life Drawing, for now at least, I thought it might be interesting to make some short YouTube videos about Drawing using my demonstration drawings from my Life Drawing classes. I’ve made the first of these and posted it on my YouTube channel.
I felt very self-conscious talking to myself in my workspace but I’ve done it now and you can watch it on YouTube. My plan is to make more of these and so watch out for them or subscribe to my YouTube channel if you’re interested. Here is a link to the first of these videos:
This is a silverpoint drawing based on a photographic image of a woman from Myslowice in 1944. I don’t know her name or anything about her. But I know that the picture was taken in 1944 and that Myslowice is in Silesia, in Poland, and that Silesia became part of an expanded Germany during The Second World War, and that it had a sizable ethnically German population before the war, and that the German population was expelled at the end of the war.
Her photograph found its way into my hands via a second-hand shop in Margate. My drawing is one of a series of silverpoint drawings, titled ‘Displaced Portraits’, which I showed as part of my solo exhibition for the Margate Now art festival. These ‘Displaced Portraits’ are of people who were photographed, mostly in Germany, in the 1930s and 1940s and whose images I found, at different times, in the same second-hand shop. I wonder how we are connected? I wonder if my drawing gets close to her?
Here is a drawing, done in silver, of someone who was photographed somewhere in the Germany in 1943. From the hand-written text on the back of the photograph we can glean that she was probably called Trudi and that her picture was probably taken in February 1943. As she is a teenager here, it’s just about possible that she is still alive somewhere now. If so, she will most likely be in her late nineties. As far as I know, our paths have never crossed. But who knows?
A photograph is a trace of the visual appearance as it was within a single point in time; drawings take time: they take time to make and take time to see. They are never the traces of a single moment or even of a single image. Our vision of whatever we are drawing changes as we draw and so even a drawing based on a single, still, image is really multiple drawings and multiple visions seen over a period of time. As we draw, we become aware of ourselves noticing what it is we notice. We also become aware of how our body feels as we draw. Drawings, then, are the traces of a kind of meditation on the presence of things.
In drawing these ‘Displaced Portraits’ I was trying to get to know the particular ‘look’ of each person. Of course, it’s impossible to really know if I’ve got anywhere close to something that they would recognise as themselves, but I hope I’ve got something of their humanity in my drawings.
It’s hard to explain why I draw these people. I sort of know why I do it but I doubt if I could explain it. Do I need to explain?
“Displaced Portrait no13 (Trudi, Feb 1943)” was shown as part of my ‘Margate Now’, art festival, solo exhibtion.
“They looked like silver birds. The sun was shining on them…” is a piece from 2012 about the people who were killed by a bomb which exploded amid a shopping queue in Tontine Street, Folkestone, during the air raid of 25th May 1917. I became obsessed with this subject and worked on it, off and on, from about 2010. This particular piece was selected for the Jerwood Drawing Prize (now the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize) and has been exhibited at various galleries on various occasions. It finally made its way to Folkestone for a one-off event on the occasion of the centenary of the raid and the inauguration of a new memorial plaque. It would be lovely if it could eventually find its way back to Folkestone one day. It’s most recent showing was as part of my Margate Now, art festival, solo show in October.
As a result of showing this piece, I have been contacted by relatives of people who were caught up in the 25th May 1917 air raid and I now have more visual reference material and more stories to add. If I had the money to do so I would work on this subject more. I feel that I’ll return to this in the future. It has been a, very sad, labour of love.
I’ve written a lot more about this in previous posts. Please click on the ‘Folkestone’ category of this blog or scroll back to find my previous posts.
“They looked like silver birds. The sun was shining in them…” is a piece about the victims of the 1917 air raid on Folkestone. It was selected for the 2013 Jerwood Drawing Prize (now the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize).
I became obsessed with this subject for years. It became a labour of love but it was a very difficult subject to work on from an emotional point of view, I had to keep taking breaks away from it as the work developed. If I had the means to work on this more I would do.
Here is one of my YouTube videos of the work. I’ve written about it in previous posts which you can find if you scroll back through this blog or by going to the ‘catagories’ list.