Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize 2018

‘Displaced Portrait no:3 (young woman in carefully repaired image), silverpoint, 21×14.5cm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My silverpoint drawing has been selected for the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize 2018 and I’m very pleased about that!

The Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize is the new incarnation of what was The Jerwood Drawing Prize. It’s the main, yearly, Contemporary Drawing exhibition and I see it as a kind annual survey of Contemporary Drawing practice in the UK. It is always worth seeing.

My drawing which has been selected is one of a growing body of work which ‘resurrects’ unknown people (unknown to me at least) from found photographs which were  taken in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s. All of the original images were found in a junk shop in Margate. I came across them all at different times and most of them seem to have been taken in different German towns.

‘Displaced Portrait no: 3 (young woman in carefully repaired image)’ is based on a photograph which had been torn in two and then very carefully glued back together again. This woman now has a kind of afterlife as an art object. What can we tell about a person from the way they appear to us? The fact that the photograph was damaged and then carefully repaired is intriguing.

My drawings are based on photographs but they are not simply copies of them. Details have been altered, tones have been modified, and each has been repeated scratched-away and redrawn and worked on over long periods of time to get to something which feels real to me.

I’m not quite sure what it is I am attempting to do with these drawings. I sort of know but I can’t really say beyond that it has something to do with our experience of time and of human presence.

I like to think of my drawings as moments of connection between moments in time. Drawings take time. Hand-drawn lines are traces of presence and of time, and of a mind engaged in the act of looking and thinking. Perhaps in drawing these people I am drawing ghosts.

The selectors for the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize 2018 are the artist Nigel Hall RA, the art dealer Megan Piper and Chris Stephens, Director of the Holburne Museum in Bath.

The exhibition will open in September in London and will tour various galleries across the country for the best part of a year. Look out for it later in the year.

I presently have a solo exhibtion at the Young Gallery, Salisbury, which runs alongside the 20th century British figurative artists exhibition, curated by Peter Riley from the Arts Council Collection.

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Dressing up in Margate

These two silverpoint drawings are of people posing in fancy dress somewhere in Margate. One drawing is of people in the 1930s and the other is of people in the 2010s.

Both are currently on display at the Young Gallery in Salisbury in a small solo exhibition running alongside an exhibition of British 20th century paintings chosen from the Arts Council collection by the curator Peter Riley. I’m showing eleven silverpoint works and sixteen sketchbooks.

The Lido Cliftonville, Margate Creatives 2010s smaller
‘Margate Creatives, 2010s’ (silverpoint on gesso)

‘Margate Creatives, 2010s’ is based on a Facebook post from a Margate-themed party, held a few years ago at The Lido, Cliftonville, Margate. It shows two women in fancy dress. One is dressed as an estate agents’ sign and the other is dressed as a local businessman. Margate is currently experiencing the mixed blessings of ‘cultural regeneration’.

‘Margate Imperialists, 1930s’ (silverpoint on gesso).

‘Margate Imperialists, 1930s’ is a group portrait based on a small postcard photograph found at an antique fair. The people in this drawing might be dressed for an Empire Day event or something similar. Here we see cliched depictions of working class, ethnic and foreign ‘types’ surrounding a young woman dressed as Britannia. Any similarities between anyone in this drawing and anyone currently living in Margate or Cliftonville are coincidental.

The choices of costume in both of these images are interesting and they both express something about the social attitudes of their times and places.

Sketchbooks on show in Salisbury

I’m in the habit of numbering my sketchbooks once they are full. The present tally is a hundred and seventy-five. I’m showing sixteen of these at The Young Gallery in Salisbury as part of a solo exhibition (which also includes eleven silverpoint drawings) which is currently running alongside the exhibition, ‘20th century Figurative Art – Arts Council Collection’, curated by Peter Riley.

A page from sketchbook number 172.

The drawings in these sketchbooks are of people. A lot of them were done at odd moments during the various Life Drawing classes I teach in Margate. None of them have taken more than about thirty minutes. None of them were done with the intention of showing them to anyone. These drawings were done purely for the sake of drawing and as a way to think about drawing.

It’s a strange privilege to spend time looking at somebody and to do nothing else but draw them. We don’t usually look at things for very long. We think we do but we don’t. The act of drawing someone is an affectionate and open-minded act of paying attention to their presence. We change our minds when we draw. The errors are really just the traces of our changes of mind. We have to change our minds about what we think we see if we are to have any hope of making a worthwhile drawing. Sometimes something interesting comes into play. That something might be nothing more than a line which could not have been predicted and which shows us that there is another way to see things.

Life Drawings say: ‘This was the case for a while and these are the traces of a mind engaged in the careful act of noticing someone else’s presence’.

 

 

 

 

People being still somewhere.

Silverpoint drawings of people photographed in Germany in the 1940s (work in progress).

I’ll be having an exhibition at The Young Gallery, Salisbury, from 9th June until the 25th August. My work will be displayed in two very large display cabinets alongside an exhibition of paintings by British 20th figurative artists which will include works by Michael Andrews, Frank Auerbach, Patrick Caulfield, Lucian Freud, Howard Hodgkin, Ken Kiff, Leon Kossoff, Euan Uglow, David Hockney and Francis Bacon. My work will augment the main exhibition but will be, in effect, a small solo show.

As the deadline for hanging the work draws closer I have to make some decisions regarding what I’d like to show and why. At the moment I’m thinking along the lines of showing a number of sketchbooks, some framed silverpoint drawings and some recent unframed silverpoint drawings.
The image for this blog post is of three of these recent pieces.

These works are about the size of A5 and are drawn with silver on gesso on board. They’re based on found photographs of people photographed in Germany I the 1930s and 1940s. I’ve been finding the photographs separately and at different times in a junk shop in Cliftonville, Margate. I don’t know who the people in the pictures are or how their portraits made their way to Margate. I suspect that some of the people might have known each other. I can’t possibly know this for certain but I think it’s quite likely that some of the photographs came to the shop as part of a bundle, or a collection.

What we can tell about someone from the way they look? If they were alive in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s they would have had direct experience of life during the Nazi era of German history. How does knowing that my drawings are of German people living in that period of time affect our thoughts about what kinds of people they were? What became of them?

My drawings of these people are not simply copies of photographs but I have tried to be loyal to what I can make of their images. Perhaps I’m saying: “Here are people being still somewhere”. They were present in the moment captured by the camera image, and by drawing them I make them present as works of art, here and now. They are connected with Margate (my home town) by the fact that their images were found in Margate, but I wonder if there are other connections too. Who knows?

These drawings aren’t finished.

Drawing in progress

Roy Eastland Margate Art studio

I don’t want to show you what I’m working on right this moment because it’s top secret, hush, hush.

So instead, here’s a picture of an ongoing metalpoint drawing which I continue to work on from time to time and which is part of a larger project about people seen in old photographs found in a Margate second hand shop.

There is a Margate connection with all of these drawings: some are definitely drawings of people who were in Margate at some point in time but others may never have been here and only their images ever found their way to The Isle of Thanet. For some reason or other their images were eventually placed in a junk shop in Cliftonville from where they came into my hands. Now I’m drawing them and wondering what connections there might be between me and them.

The photograph which this particular silverpoint drawing is based upon is an old photograph which was probably taken in Germany in the 1930s or 1940s. At some point in time it had been torn in half but then so carefully glued back together again that it wasn’t obvious at first that it had been torn in two. I want to find a way to get the fact of its partial destruction and its careful fixing into the stuff of the drawing itself – it’s an interesting artistic problem.

Life Drawing

life drawing, margate adult education centre hawley square, kent adult education

I’ve been looking through some drawings done as demonstrations for drawing exercises in my Life Drawing classes. The new term of Life Drawing courses at Margate Adult Education Centre starts this week.

This drawing is from a drawing exercise about relooking and moving on to the next moment. In this exercise the model holds a pose for a short amount of time and then moves to a second position and then back to the first and then back again to the second, three times over. In this drawing the model probably held the poses for about 15 seconds each time but the students usually get a minute and then 30 seconds each time. What the drawer is drawing is different each time and even if it were humanly possible for the model to reoccupy the exact-same pose the drawer will have changed their mind about what they find interesting, what they see and what they think. We look and make a decision and then we must move on to the next moment and let the drawing be what it is. The ‘finished’ drawing will be the traces of the accumulated decisions and there are always choices to be made (are we thinking about the edges, proximity, tone, angles, the course of a line, the character of the line, the weight of the mark, the sharpness, the touch… etc?). The line is a good line if it is an honest line responding to the changes of mind. In drawing a line we change our minds.

This exercise makes us more aware of the way that drawing ‘The Figure’ is never about drawing something complete and settled. All is in time and our line traces those moments and says “for this moment this was the case and this is as close as I could get to it”. Drawing like this acknowledges the fact that there are always multiple version of the same thing and our drawn lines don’t need to agree on the matter in order to be correct.

I teach Life Drawing at Margate Adult Education Centre, The Sidney Cooper Gallery (Canterbury Christ Church University) and occasionally at other places too. We presently need a few more people to enrol on the Thursday morning Life Drawing for it to be allowed to run and so book a place asap please if you’re interested.
Here is a link to the courses I teach at the Kent Adult Education: https://www.kentadulteducation.co.uk/brands/mnid_123/Mr-Roy-James-Eastland.aspx

 

 

Margate Imperialists, 1930s

This silverpoint drawing is presently on show in St Ives, Cornwall, as part of Anima-Mundi’s ‘Mixed Winter 17’ exhibition. It’s a drawing about people and about a moment in time in Margate (a seaside town in the south east of England).

Margate Imperialists, 1930s Roy Eastland metalpoint drawing

The drawing is about the size of an A1 sheet of paper but it’s drawn with silver on thick layers of gesso on board (silverpoint). The work is based on a small postcard image found at an antique fair. Here we see a group of mostly young adults, and a few children, dressed in a variety of fancy dress costumes depicting a mix of social and ethnic ‘types’. There is ‘A Margate Landlady’, a ‘Red Indian’, men dressed as women, people ‘blacked up’, various ‘foreigners’ and even someone dressed-up as a member of the Klu Klux Klan (make of those details what you will). The presence of ‘Britannia’, in the centre of the group, makes me think they are at an Empire Day event.

Margate Imperialists, 1930s Roy Eastland silverpoint

This is a drawing about people and about a place and a moment in time. It might bring to mind thoughts around identity, self-expression, ‘otherness’ and about taste. These people look thrilled to be in costume and playing with identities. A few years later came The War. Their choices of costume bring into focus thoughts about British Imperialism and about attitudes to class and to foreigners and so forth. This drawing is also about a group of people expressing themselves and about people looking happy in each other’s company and they looking towards us.

The act of drawing someone’s image is a kind of meditation of their presence beyond their appearance. More accurately it’s a meditation on what I imagine is their personality as given to me via a small photographic image. It’s a drawing and I’m glad it’s being seen in St Ives right now.