I’m very pleased to find that my drawing, ‘Displaced Portrait No15 (woman with baby)’ will be included in the Turner Contemporary Open exhibition later this year.
This piece is one of an ongoing series of silverpoint drawings based on souvenir and identity photographs taken mostly in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s and which I have found at different times in the same second-hand shop in Margate (my home town). The original photograph is a snapshot-trace of the look of a moment. My drawings are a kind of meditation on these displaced traces of moments in lives.
There are any number of reasons why a person’s image might find its way into a second-hand shop. I know nothing about this particular woman or the baby. But I can assume that she was German because she appears in another photograph, dated to New Year 1940, in which she is part of a happy-looking family group which includes men dressed in Wehrmacht uniforms.
My drawings take time. They emerge over the course of months, and sometimes years, of painstaking rounds of re-drawing. They are repeatedly scratched-away and redrawn with points of silver, needles, scalpel blades and sandpaper. Each re-working is a chance to see something new. My drawings are never just hand-made copies of photographs. Through repeated redrawing, I hope to bring something to the surface which I could not have foreseen.
These drawings are a kind of meditation on the physical traces of moments. I think they are also, quite literally, a kind of drawing together of disparate moments in time, and of people and places. But there is another thing which I can’t fully explain. Whilst drawing these people (or, rather, whilst drawing these traces of people) I think about my dad’s memories of Germany at the end of The Second World War. Perhaps I’ll write about these another time, but I feel his presence is in these drawings as I draw. I wonder what the connections are. I wonder how objects, places, memories and people are connected.
I wonder who have I drawn here?
The ‘Turner Contemporary Open’ runs from October 2021 until February 2022.