Folkestone air raid memorial

“They looked like silver birds. The sun was shining on them…” is my 2011-2012 drawing about the people who were killed by a bomb which exploded in Tontine Street, Folkestone, during the air raid of 25th May 1917.  This work was recently on display in Folkestone at a memorial event for the one hundredth anniversary of the air raid.

The 25th May 2017 was the first time it had been on show in Folkestone (this meant a lot to me and it nearly didn’t happen). Previously it had been included in the 2013 Jerwood Drawing Prize and was exhibited in various galleries around the country in 2013 and 2014 including galleries in London (Jerwood Space), Newcastle (Hatton Gallery), Plymouth (Plymouth Art College / Plymouth Arts Centre) and Canterbury (Sidney Cooper Gallery).  It has also been seen in exhibitions in my home town, Margate, and once again at the Sidney Cooper Gallery as part of an exhibition focusing on art and poetry about The First World War called ‘Remembering: we forget’.

Up until now this work has be seen in art galleries.  The typical ‘white cube’ style art gallery space allows the viewer to see the work in ideal conditions without other visual distractions.  It’s easier to notice the subtleties in a work of art when there is only the work of art in your line of sight.

On Thursday 25th May 2017 it was displayed in The Folkestone Methodist Church, in Sandgate Road, propped up by a couple of cushions on a table by the entrance in a narrow space between the backs of chairs and the wall beneath a bright fabric mural.  The light reflecting on it from a high, long, window made it hard to see.  If this had been an art gallery setting I wouldn’t have been happy, but on this particular day and in this particular place the important thing about its presentation was that it was sitting there in Folkestone and it was being looked at by people in Folkestone (some of whom were relatives of people in my drawing).

The event was organised by Margaret Care, a descendant of one of the people who died as a result of the Tontine Street bomb, and Martin Easdown, a local historian who has done research into and has written about the air raid and who’s book, A Glint in the Sky, was a key source of information about the air raid in the early stages of my work.

The day included an exhibition, a memorial service, an unveiling of a new memorial plaque and a walking tour.  It was a labour of love for them.  Margaret’s family have been placing flowers to remember the victims every year since 1918.  Until now the only memorial to the people who were killed in the air raid has been a modest plaque at the site of the Tontine Street explosion, next to the Brewery Tap pub (which is now a art venue for the UCA within Folkestone’s Creative Quarter).

The people who came were a mix of relatives of people who had been killed in the air raid, curious local people, local historians, people from local media, people working on Radio Four’s, ‘Home Front’ drama series (which is set in Folkestone during the First World War) and local dignitaries.  There was a constant supply of cups of tea (which is always a good thing) and I had conversations with relatives of people who had died in the air raid and I met people I had previously only corresponded with via emails, and I’m sure I missed out on conversations too.

“They looked like silver birds. The sun was shining on them…” is part of an ongoing body of work connected with the 1917 air raid.  People who’s relatives were caught up in the air raid had contacted me, after seeing my work in exhibitions or via the internet, and they have shared their family-stories, and their fragments of stories and little, human, details which I might one day put into future work.  I have information now which I didn’t have at the time of working on this drawing; part of me feels a pull towards making new work, while another part of me wants to leave it alone now (it can be hard to focus on such a sad thing for long periods of time).

Time will tell if I work on this further but I have a feeling that this isn’t the end of the story.

 

And another thing: those of you who listen to BBC Radio Four might be aware of the drama series ‘Home Front’. The series is set in Folkestone during the First World War and you might find the 25th May Afternoon Play, ‘A Lightening’, interesting (you can find it on BBC Radio Four iPlayer).  This Thursday 8th May, the editor of the series, Jessica Dromgoole, will be giving a talk about the series at the beautiful, and very, very old, St Mary’s and St Eanswythe’s Church in Folkestone.  Go to it after you’ve voted.

…and please do vote!

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The Great Folkestone Air Raid 100th anniversary.

The Great Folkestone Air Raid 25th May1917

A memorial event for victims of The Great Folkestone Air Raid of 25th May 1917 will take place in Folkestone next week.

My drawing, “They looked like silver birds. The sun was shining on them… ”, will be on display as part of this event which will also include a small exhibition, a memorial service, an unveiling of a memorial plaque and a walking tour.  The event has been organised by local historian, Martin Easdown, and a descendant of one of the victims, Margaret Care.  This has been a labour of love for both of them.  I’m looking forward to having my work seen in Folkestone at last (it has been shown in various galleries all over the country but never in Folkestone until now).

My drawing will be on show at The Folkestone Methodist Church on Sandgate Road (CT20 2DA) from 2pm until 5pm.  I’ll be there and so please come along and say hello if you can make it over to Folkestone.  Martin has written a book about the air raid which will be on sale there too.

If you’re someone who listens to BBC Radio 4 while you work (or whatever you do during the day) you might want to listen to the Afternoon Play that day.   ‘Home Front: A lightening’ will be broadcast at 2.15pm (and also on BBC iPlayer Radio) and is all about the 25th May 1917 air raid.

For more information about the memorial event go to: http://www.leshaigh.co.uk/folkestone/tontinememorialservice.html

For more information about my art work go to my previous posts on this blog (click on ‘Folkestone’ on the list of categories) or/and go to my other social media places listed here below:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/royeastlanddraw

Blog: https://www.a-n.co.uk/blogs/i-draw

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Roy-Eastland-1495390357351370/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/royeastland/

Hopefully see some of you in Folkestone next week!

ps, There happens to be an excellent, and long established, secondhand bookshop (Marrin’s Bookshop) right next door to the Sandgate Road Methodist Church – it’s well worth a look around there as well!

Drawing recently on show at the National Portrait Gallery in London (The Portrait Gala 2017)

National Portrait Gallery, Portrait Gala 2017, Mystery Portrait Postcard, silverpoint drawing, ROY EASTLAND

This drawing (silverpoint on gesso on board) was recently on show at The National Portrait Gallery, in London, in an exhibition which included about a hundred A5 size portraits donated by mystery artists.  The work was for sale as part of the 2017 Portrait Gala event and The Mystery Portrait Postcard exhibition.  The gala event and exhibition were part of a fund raising event to raise money for the gallery.  The exhibition lasted for about three weeks but the names of the artists were kept a secret until just last week.  I’m now allowed to say that this one was mine.

The drawing is based on a photo booth image of my mum which was probably used for a bus pass.  It’s one of an on going series of drawings based on photo booth images.  Photobooth images capture little, unimportant, moments of a person’s life.

Scroll down this home page or click on the ‘people’ category to find examples of related works.

Drawings on display in Margate

Roy Eastland, Pie Factory gallery, MARGATE, The Luminous and The Grey, exhibition

Some views of my work in a recent group exhibition which I was invited to take part in at the Pie Factory gallery space in Margate.  The show was called ‘The Luminous and The Grey’.   It also included work by Shona McGovern (who has recently found out that she’s had a drawing accepted for the Jerwood Drawing Prize!), Helen Brooker, Jane Kullman, Tina Atchison-Thomas, Graham Ward and Penny Watts.

Click on the ‘silverpoint’ category (to the side of this post) to read more about the sort of work I had on show in this exhibition.

Thank you to everyone who came to the exhibition and to the other artists in the show who invited me to add my work to the exhibition!

Here is a link to my facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1729139147345839/

Roy Eastland’s memorial to the Tontine Street bombing

Here is a blog post about the ‘Remembering, We Forget: Poets, Artists and the First World War’ exhibition at the Sidney Cooper Gallery, Canterbury, from last year. I didn’t post about this exhibition at the time because my laptop wasn’t letting me update this blog at the time. Just now, as I was sorting through old posts and pages, I came across it again and thought it might be of interest to some people out there.

The work referred to here is work I’ve been doing about the victims of the Tontine Street bomb explosion from ‘The Great Folkestone Air Raid’ of 25th May 1917. Andrew Palmer Lectures in Modern Literature at Canterbury Christ Church University and he specialises in poetry of the First World War.

To read his article, CLICK ON: ‘View original post’ (it’s at the bottom of this section of Andrew Palmer’s post). You can also click on ‘Folkestone’ in the list of ‘categories’ to find more about this work.

Sardonic Rat

Whole work

On 25 May, 1917, a German Gotha dropped a bomb over Folkestone. It exploded amongst a crowd of people queuing outside the Stokes Brothers’ greengrocer in Tontine Street. 71 people were killed, most of them instantly. Some died later of their wounds. This horrific event is commemorated in Roy Eastland’s work, ‘They looked like silver birds. The sun was shining on them…’, which is part of the exhibition Remembering, We Forget, at the Sidney Cooper Gallery until December 17.

The work takes its title from statements made by eye-witnesses – tragic in their naivety. It is made up of a series of 68 small panels, each one dedicated to a single victim, containing handwritten information and sometimes images, taken from newspaper reports and the remembrances of those who knew them. Eastland draws in silverpoint – that is, he scratches the word and faces onto boards prepared with gesso, a…

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Panoramic drawings (2002-2009)

 

Site of … 2004-2009, graphite, emulsion, tissue, gesso, varnish on board (13.5cm x 57cm)

Site of...

From about 2002 until about 2009 I worked on a lot of panoramic ‘views’ of Margate.   These drawings took the view of Margate (as seen from the high and low tide lines) as their starting point. The pieces were drawn into and written over and obscured with paint and sanded (or paint-stripped) back again. Most of the work never made it to any kind of completion (most were either destroyed in the process or were abandoned).

My 2004 solo exhibition, at Archeus in London, was mostly comprised of this kind of work. At about this time I had a lot of conversations, about my work, with the philosopher and academic Iain MacKenzie. I think his description of my work at that time is very good and so, rather than repeat some of the things I’ve written in previous blog posts, I’ll share the essay that he wrote for my 2004 solo show at Archeus Fine Art (Albemarle Street, London). By the way, the essay is also interesting in that it was written at a stage in Margate’s ‘culture led regeneration’ (or is it gentrification?), before Turner Contemporary was built.

Margate seen from the high tide line. 2007 graphite, ink, emulsion, varnish on paper (4.5cm x 20.5cm)

Margate seen from the high tide line. 2007. 4.5x20.5cm

 

‘Roy Eastland: Art on a Line’ by Dr Iain MacKenzie 2004

Roy Eastland’s Art is an art of the line and in his artwork the line serves a multitude of purposes. His views of Margate take the line of the seashore as their predominant point of perspective, coaxing the gaze of holiday-makers and residents alike away from the vista of the open sea back to the Georgian geometry of the sea-front façade. The transformation of the sight-lines associated with this, the original, sea-side town brings a change of perspective that charts the changing nature of Margate itself. Margate is no longer the hotspot for Victorians seeking revitalisation and purification by the waters, nor can it claim to be the ‘East-End-of-London-by-the-sea’ that defined it through the first half of the twentieth century. Margate is looking at itself, at how it can redefine itself in a rapidly changing local, national and international environment. Eastland’s art not only reflects on this period of change it expresses it in every line of its scratched surfaces and taut execution.

Lines in Eastland’s art do more than create new perspectives of space. They are also a way of incorporating an historical dimension into the work. Technically, this occurs in the careful layering of different stages of the work, each layer marking the previous one and leaving a trace in the one that follows. The result is an art of memory, trace and recollection in two senses. First, the artworks contain, within themselves, the traces or their own production to the point where it no longer makes sense to demarcate in Eastland’s art the process of production from the point of completion. Each artwork is complete in itself only by virtue of being a product in perpetual process, a feature that binds the different artworks themselves into a unified but open- ended and on-going artistic project. Secondly, Eastland’s art is thematically guided by the complexities of memory and recollection in that it represents the conjunction of past, present and future as an on-going process of deconstruction, reconstruction and , pure and simple, construction. Moments of intensity from the past (the passing of a Zeppelin over the Clock Tower) seamlessly blend together with significant events in the present (the fire that left a gaping void in the sea-front façade) to create a new Margate, Margate with a new future.

But lines are also the basis for writing and it is no coincidence that an artist of the line chooses to mark each layer of the artwork with text. Fragments of text are drawn from overheard conversations, family reminiscences, maps and thoughts to create interpretive resonances and dissonances within the work itself that put paid to any easy or overly simplistic attempt to express what Margate is becoming. Iconic names stand out amongst the text: the Nayland Rock Hotel, site of Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall’s wedding banquet in 1990 and now a holding centre for ‘asylum seekers’; The Droit House, once the home of the Harbour commission now housing the displays that announce the building of the Turner Contemporary art gallery: and, perhaps most of all, Dreamland, the once famous but now derelict amusement park whose name itself captures the mix of landscape and imagination so important to Eastland’s approach to art itself. Indeed, the language of Eastland’s art is at its most evocative and expressive when it uses simple descriptions and names of markers of intense change.

And yet, for Eastland, the line is not simply a compositional, processual or representational device, it is also a way of creating a relationship of intensity between the work itself and the viewer. As well as seeing the lines of his work as a means to redirect our gaze, or the traces of a layered process of production, or the representation of people’s movements along the sea-front façade (those who are dead, living and not yet born), the sheer intensity of the deep scars that punctuate the vistas he produces direct the viewer beyond the superficial rhetoric of ‘art-appreciation’ towards a process of reflection on art and life, The repeated reworking of lines through the depth of the surfaces he creates full-stops in the rhythms of the text and images that unsettle any attempted harmonisation of the artwork with the viewer’s expectations of both Margate and ‘Margate-art’. When the artwork itself is so deeply scored with the trajectories and movements of life any understanding of the work as art must express these trajectories and movements in itself. The result is an artwork with life that creates a moment to reflect upon one’s own life as a work of art. Indeed, it no coincidence that his life-drawings capture this dynamism in its purest form as each drawn and re-drawn human curves brings depth and movement into the often shallow and lifeless practice of portraiture. Eastland’s art, we might say, is an art of the line that gives a new impetus to the line of life that runs through us all; as individuals, as communities, as people with a past, present and future.

In this way, Eastland’s art does not refer to a critical tradition of aesthetics based on refining the regimes of judgement; the modern Kantian tradition of art criticism is simply inappropriate for grasping the intricacies of an art of the line as sophisticated as Eastland’s. Rather, his art calls upon new and emergent vocabularies of aesthetics that decentre the process of judgement and bring categories and affect to the fore. His art is less a matter of taste as judgements and more a materialisation of taste as sensation. It brings to mind Deleuze and Guattari’s definition of art as that creates a ‘bloc of sensations’ such that the work of art is ‘a being of sensation and nothing else: it exists in itself’ (What is Philosophy?, Verso, 1994, p164). On this criterion, Eastland’s art is not to be simply appreciated or judged as art (or not). Instead, it composes sensations in the artwork itself that change our experience of the subject of his art (Margate becomes a Dream Land) which in turn transform the subjects who view his art through intense affects of dislocation and punctuation) in ways that resist prescription and dogmatism (by bringing the potential for change and chance into the process of production and, crucially, of perception). All of which can be said to bring the sensation of chaos into being, but it is a chaos that is composed, organised and, therefore, truly transformative of settled habits of opinion. As Deleuze and Guattari summarise it: ‘the artist brings back from the chaos varieties that no longer constitute a representation of the sensory… but set up a being of the sensory, a being of sensation on…[a] plane of composition that is able to restore the infinite’ (What is Philosophy?, p202/3). Margate is not simply whatever we assume it to be and Eastland’s art manifests this intense critical gesture by creating a new sense of the infinite possibilities within this sea-side town coming to terms with the fact that it is always on the move. Eastland’s art expresses this in every movement of its being: the infinite as a line into the future composed by an exemplary artist of the line.

Iain MacKenzie lives in Margate and is the author of The Idea of Pure Critique (Continuum, 2004).

margate 2004

Arromanches drawings (2006-2009)

mulberry 2007-2009 NORMANDY

Here are some drawings from a series of drawings about Arromanches (a seaside town in Normandy which was the location of the Mulberry Harbour, after D-Day in The Second World War). I worked on these small, mixed media (graphite, emulsion, ink and varnish), drawings between about 2006 and 2009. Their starting point was my memories of my dad’s memories of D-Day and the Mulberry Harbour at Arromanches and about a few photographs and post cards of the town that he brought back with him as souvenirs.

One of the photographs was of a rough sea hitting the seafront (I presume this photograph was taken before the war) and this became a repeated point of reference for a number of drawings (I remember being told about the storm that wrecked the Mulberry harbour). The have been repeatedly re-worked and include writing as well as images. ‘Mulberry’, for example, is based on a postcard view of the town and the sea but my version includes my hand-written notes which locate various remembered details and events. As with a lot of my other work, this drawing was worked on over a long period of time and at some points in the process the words were more visible and other times the image was the focus of the piece. ‘East Kent Daily Time Slip’ (scroll down the home page to find an image of it) is one of the drawings that were based on the view of a wave hitting the seafront. The title comes from my memory of my dad using East Kent Bus Company ‘time slips’ to make simple, schematic, drawings of things as he explained events and views. ‘East Kent Daily Time Slip’ was also the title of my solo exhibition at Marine Studios in Margate.

Various drawings from this body of work have been shown at various times at various venues including: Marine Studios (Margate), Beaux Arts (Bath), Millennium (St Ives) and The Hastings Museum and Art Gallery.     

Arromanches storm (1) (graphite, ink, emulsion and varnish on card. 4.5 x 5.5 cm)