Margate postcard drawing

“…will be seeing you soon” 2011 graphite, gesso, varnish on board (8.5cm x 13.5cm)

“…will be seeing you soon” is one of an ongoing series of drawings based on a postcard, of a rough sea at Margate, which was sent from Margate to an address in London in May 1946.  This drawing is about the same size as the original postcard and it has been worked on at various times over the course of about three years (it is often the case that my drawings are worked on at various times over the course months or years).  The message reads: “Dear All, Having a good time although the weather could be a lot better. The air here soon makes you a feel a lot better. Will be seeing you soon. Love Rita & Eileen.  The post mark is dated: ‘Margate, Kent, 2pm, 30 may, 1946’ and it is stamped with the words: ‘DON’T WASTE BREAD OTHERS NEED IT’ in block capitals.

The hand-written message gives us a glimpse into other people’s experiences of life.  For example, the writer mentions that the air in Margate can make you “feel a lot better” and that the weather was bad during the time that ‘Rita and Eileen’ stayed in Margate … and so on.  The wording of the postmark (the appeal to people not to waste bread) and its date (one year after the end of The Second World War) brings the wider world into the picture and reminds us that each lived moment is part of a bigger, social and political, situation.

The image on the postcard shows us the moment when an incoming wave collided with a wave returning seaward after hitting the chalk cliffs.  This little event, repeated endlessly in its various forms throughout time, happened to be captured in a photograph one day in the early 1900s (certain details on The Jetty date the original photograph to around 1910).  Everything that is present in the postcard has gone; the people who wrote and received the card have gone, The Jetty was destroyed by a storm in the 1970s and the gradually-eroding cliffs are now protected by a sea wall (even so, these soft chalk cliffs continue to crumble and disappear over time).

These drawings, in common with most of my recent work, come into being through processes of repeated revision and redrawing. Transcriptions of the hand-written message and the words and lettering of the postmark are repeatedly inscribed and then repeatedly drawn over so that the presence of the words and the presence of the picture compete and merge.  Each new layer of redrawing influences the formation of the next.  Each drawing evolves in its own unpredictable way as the drawing’s emphasis shifts (at one time the focus might be on the pictorial elements, another time it will focus on to trying to understand the structure of the wave formation, the next it might centre on the hand-written text, and so on).

These drawings can be seen as portraits of a wave.  They also hint at the presence of people in a particular place in time. They use an ordinary postcard sent from an old East Kent seaside town to play with the idea that ordinary, unimportant, human moments are interesting or wonderful and can be re-sent out into the world as careful works of art.

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