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!

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!

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.

Drawings like little poems

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Drawings can be like little poems; they can stand alone as intensely troubled-over, individual, works of art in their own right.

This tiny drawing is of a chalk stack at Botany Bay near to where I live.  The piece is about 5cm by 6.5cm in size and it is drawn with silver on gesso on card.  I might make a series of drawings of this stone.  We’ll see.  This work stands on its own but it shares themes in common with lots of my work: presence and the passing of time.

The tides and the weather are slowly eroding this chalk stack away to nothing.  In time it will no longer figure in anyone’s line of sight.  This familiar (familiar to me at least) feature on the high tide line makes me think about time and about change over the course of time – it can stand for that.

 

Another resting drawing

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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.

Preparing to make new art work

folkestone-gotha-bomber-air-raid-25th-may-1917-tontine-streetI’m about to start on a new body of work and it’s going to take a lot of time.  My drawings take for ever to do.  It’s not just that the drawings that take a long time, it’s also that the work requires a lot of preparation and research even before making a mark.  A lot of the time my research doesn’t bare fruit as finished works of art (n fact, the majority of my work ends up as unfinished and abandoned) but this is how it is for me and this is my way of working: so be it.  I work within my means and so this will progress slowly as time and money allow.  I sometimes return to subjects after long periods of time of not working on them.  The May 1917 air raid (the so-called ‘Great Folkestone Air Raid’) is something I’ve repeatedly returned to and which I imagine I shall continue to return to for years to come.

Here are some images of work which has already seen the light of the gallery space and which I hope will be given more opportunities to be seen in exhibitions in the future.

This piece is called: “They looked like silver birds.  The sun was shining on them…”  The title comes from words of an eye witness account of seeing the German bombers high up in the early evening sun light and remembering that they looked like silver birds.  It was selected for The 2013 Jerwood Drawing Prize and it has also been shown in other exhibitions, including: ‘Telling Stories: Hastings’ (in Margate as an off-shoot of an exhibition at the Hastings Museum and Art Gallery curated by the writer and artist Cathryn Kemp); East Kent Artists’ Open Houses; ‘Remembering: We Forget’ (The Sidney Cooper Gallery, Canterbury), curated by Hazel Stone; and at the Pie Factory gallery space in Margate.

I hope this work will be shown in Folkestone one day.

Click on ‘Folkestone’ on the list of categories to see more.

If anyone out there happens to have any family stories connected with the air raid I would love to hear from you!

Go to the ‘about me’ section of this blog to find links to social media and my email address.  You can also write a comment at the bottom of this post.

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