‘Margate Imperialists 1930s’

margate imperiasts 1930s

Margate Imperialists 1930s, 2017, silver on gesso on board, 21cm x 30cm.

Work on this drawing has come to an end.  I could carry on working on it but I shan’t.

The drawing is based on a small photographic image on a postcard taken somewhere in Margate in the 1930s.  My guess is that the people here were dressed for an Empire Day event.  This is one of a number of drawings based on the same image.  It is one of a series of drawings based on images of people dressed in costumes of some sort and with a Margate connection.

 

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!

Drawings in progress

on margate sands...

In a Margate junk shop I can connect anything with anything.

A lot of my work draws on people and things connected with Margate.  A recurring theme is the way in which the slightest things in life, and the humblest objects that exist, can be linked to, and imply the presence of, the world’s biggest events.

Here is a picture of some works in progress captured in a moment of a Margate sunset light.  These silverpoint drawings are based on found photographs taken in Germany in the 1930s.  Somehow they made their way into a secondhand shop in Cliftonville in 2017.  And from there they came into my hands.

There was a point in time when a momentary look was captured in the instant of a photographic image.  Now, here, l am taking time to look at those traces of those moments in those people’s lives and drawing – I could almost say conjuring – something out of them.  We’ll see what comes of it.

I shall post more about this work as it develops further.

You can see earlier images of this work on Instagram.

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.

Another resting drawing

margate-people-postcard-1930s-silverpoint-drawing

This drawing is resting.  I stopped work on it a couple of months ago.  I might continue to work on it sometime in the future but for now it’s resting in a drawer.

The medium is silverpoint on gesso (click on ‘silverpoint’ on the list of categories to read about the medium) and it’s about the size of a sheet of A4 paper.  It’s based on a postcard, probably from the mid 1930s, of people dressed in fancy dress somewhere in Margate.  This drawing was to form part of a series of drawings based on images of people, with a Margate connection, dressed in costumes of some sort.  The idea was to have the drawings shown together and to allow people to make connections between the people in the different drawings and to bigger world events (the images I have in mind are from before or during The Second World War). It’s also to think about identity and what we imagine about others  based on the way they look.  I’ve worked on several versions of this image (and on sections of it) but for now the work is resting.  It might be years before work in this begins again.

25th May 1917 Folkestone Air Raid

 

folkestone air raid 1917 Roy Eastland

 

folkestone air raid 1917

folkestone air raid 1917 Tontine Street bomb victims

folkestone air raid 1917 tontine street

folkestone air raid 1917  25th May 1917

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At about twenty past six on the evening of 25th May 1917, a bomb was dropped from a German, Gotha, bomber which exploded in the midst of a queue of people waiting outside of Stokes’ greengrocers in Tontine Street, Folkestone.  Scores of people were killed and injured.  It’s a very sad story but I want people to know about it partly because it is such a sad story and partly because this story is similar to all those stories we hear all of the time about people caught up in bomb explosions.  This story can stand for many, similar, stories.

Here are some images of a piece I made a few years ago.  I continue to work on this project as time and money allow.  My earliest exhibited work on this subject was shown as part of a solo show I had at Margate’s Marine Studios in 2011.  It consisted of an entire wall covered with A5 pencil drawings and text about the people caught up in the various bomb explosions across Folkestone on that day.  This led on to another piece called: “They looked like silver birds.  The sun was shining on them…” (the title is a quote from an eye witness account referring to the sight of the German bombers high up in the evening sunlight).  This is a framed work consisting of small silverpoint portraits and handwritten text on gesso boards.  It has been exhibited in a number of places including: a gallery space on Margate pier (this was an off-shoot to the ‘Telling Stories: Hastings’, at the Hastings Museum and Art Gallery, curated by Cathryn Kemp); The Jerwood Drawing Prize 2013 (shown at The Jerwood Art Space, London, and at various galleries across the country); East Kent Open Artists Open Houses (part of the Canterbury Festival); ‘Remembering: We Forget’ (The Sidney Cooper Gallery, Canterbury) and ‘Memory’ (The Pie Factory, Margate).  I’ve had a lot of interesting feedback from people who have seen the work at these exhibitions and I’ve also been contacted be a couple of people who have family stories connected with the event.  I dearly hope to include these stories in future work.  I hope I’ve made a respectful work of art.

I have a lot to say about this work and I’ve written more about it on previous blog posts (click on ‘Folkestone’ on the list of ‘categories’ to find earlier posts).

Click on the images for a better view of them.

A drawing from 2006

Jerwood Drawing Prize 2006 ROY EASTLAND

This drawing was selected for the 2006 Jerwood Drawing Prize. The image you can see here is a scan taken from a photograph I took of it when it was on show at the Jerwood Art Space in London. The drawing is behind glass and so it’s not a sharp image but it will do. It’s a small drawing of about five by six centimetres or possibly even a smaller (the dimensions stated in the exhibition catalogue describe the size of the frame rather than the artwork and the reproduction in the catalogue is a lot bigger than the real thing). It’s a drawing of my dad. The title of the drawing (‘A N Eastland’) comes from my copy of his signature (his mark). It could also be read literally as ‘an Eastland’.Jerwood Art Space

The drawing was built up through a process of repeated re-drawing. The face you see in this drawing is only the last version of many drawings of a number of different photo booth images that were drawn over each other. The face was drawn, painted over, sanded down, and then another face was drawn over the traces and then the process was repeated over and over.

This drawing strategy (of repeated obscuration and re-drawing) is employed for a variety of reasons. It brings in an element of unpredictability into the process (the drawing ‘returns’ to me as a slightly unfamiliar thing each time it is re-drawn). The process mimics processes we might associate with the passing of time (of archaeological traces for example) and of memory.  It might also bring to mind the way we see the same things differently at different times. There is never really an end-point to any of my drawings: work on them simply stops once they are framed and presented as works of art (I sometimes need the deadline of an exhibition to force me to bring a drawing to a conclusion).

My drawings are often individual works which can stand alone as distinct works of art. This way of working has been forced on me by the fact that I lack the financial means to be able to work on more than a few pieces at a time.  I’m not complaining; necessity is often the cause of virtue, and these separate, individual, drawings relate to all my other drawings (through their recurring focus on themes relating to memory, trace and presence) and I like the idea of making small, intimate, works of art.

[Click on ‘Jerwood Drawing Prize’ on the list of ‘categories’ for other drawings that were selected for the Jerwood Drawing Prize 2009 and 2013.]