I’m thrilled to have some of my ‘Dancing/Dying Toy Soldier’ drawings on show at the Millennium Gallery in St Ives Cornwall. ‘THE MILLENNIUM MIXED WINTER EXHIBITION’ is on until 14th January 2012. You can watch a video tour of the show if you go to the gallery website at: www.millenniumgallery.co.uk . I have four, small (roughly 4.5 cm x 6 cm), silverpoint drawings included in the exhibition. They are part of an ongoing series of related drawings which take massed-produced plastic model soldiers as their repeated point of focus (specifically the ones depicting dying soldiers).
These little toys depict an imagined final moment of life (on the cusp of standing and falling or of consciousness and unconsciousness), but they might also be seen as depictions of people lost within a moment of ecstatic dancing. Through repeatedly redrawing these serious and dramatic little toys, something bigger and unpredicted comes into play. Each drawing is worked on over long periods of time. The evidence of earlier drawing is partially sanded away before the drawing process begins again. Each new attempt to draw the thing leaves its trace in the next and so the drawings build through partially controlled process of loss and re-emergence.
Etching needles and scalpel blades are also employed as drawing tools. The gesso surface is incised with needle-narrow lines which might follow or predict the silverpoint lines or interrupt and cut across them. These figures are re-imagined through drawing but the presence of the original object is always the constant and primary point of reference. These toys become something more significant through the attention paid to them through drawing them.
Silverpoint drawings are made by drawing a piece of silver wire across a prepared surface. The silver reacts with the gesso leaving a silvery mid-tone grey trace of a line. These lines slowly become more of a brown colour over time (if I was to make a silverpoint drawing each day and place them all side by side, you would see the beautifully subtle change in colour between the first and the last drawing). Silverpoint lines are never very dark. They cannot be rubbed out, but the brittle chalky gesso surface can be scratched-into and sanded between each new period of drawing.
Go to: www.millenniumgallery.co.uk/winter11/winter11.htm to see a video tour of the show.
This drawing (along with another, related, drawing) was selected for the Jerwood Drawing Prize, in 2009, and was also included in my solo exhibition at Marine Studios in Margate.