This is a silverpoint drawing based on a photographic image of a woman from Myslowice in 1944. I don’t know her name or anything about her. But I know that the picture was taken in 1944 and that Myslowice is in Silesia, in Poland, and that Silesia became part of an expanded Germany during The Second World War, and that it had a sizable ethnically German population before the war, and that the German population was expelled at the end of the war.
Her photograph found its way into my hands via a second-hand shop in Margate. My drawing is one of a series of silverpoint drawings, titled ‘Displaced Portraits’, which I showed as part of my solo exhibition for the Margate Now art festival. These ‘Displaced Portraits’ are of people who were photographed, mostly in Germany, in the 1930s and 1940s and whose images I found, at different times, in the same second-hand shop. I wonder how we are connected? I wonder if my drawing gets close to her?
Here is a drawing, done in silver, of someone who was photographed somewhere in the Germany in 1943. From the hand-written text on the back of the photograph we can glean that she was probably called Trudi and that her picture was probably taken in February 1943. As she is a teenager here, it’s just about possible that she is still alive somewhere now. If so, she will most likely be in her late nineties. As far as I know, our paths have never crossed. But who knows?
A photograph is a trace of the visual appearance as it was within a single point in time; drawings take time: they take time to make and take time to see. They are never the traces of a single moment or even of a single image. Our vision of whatever we are drawing changes as we draw and so even a drawing based on a single, still, image is really multiple drawings and multiple visions seen over a period of time. As we draw, we become aware of ourselves noticing what it is we notice. We also become aware of how our body feels as we draw. Drawings, then, are the traces of a kind of meditation on the presence of things.
In drawing these ‘Displaced Portraits’ I was trying to get to know the particular ‘look’ of each person. Of course, it’s impossible to really know if I’ve got anywhere close to something that they would recognise as themselves, but I hope I’ve got something of their humanity in my drawings.
It’s hard to explain why I draw these people. I sort of know why I do it but I doubt if I could explain it. Do I need to explain?
“Displaced Portrait no13 (Trudi, Feb 1943)” was shown as part of my ‘Margate Now’, art festival, solo exhibtion.
“They looked like silver birds. The sun was shining on them…” is a piece from 2012 about the people who were killed by a bomb which exploded amid a shopping queue in Tontine Street, Folkestone, during the air raid of 25th May 1917. I became obsessed with this subject and worked on it, off and on, from about 2010. This particular piece was selected for the Jerwood Drawing Prize (now the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize) and has been exhibited at various galleries on various occasions. It finally made its way to Folkestone for a one-off event on the occasion of the centenary of the raid and the inauguration of a new memorial plaque. It would be lovely if it could eventually find its way back to Folkestone one day. It’s most recent showing was as part of my Margate Now, art festival, solo show in October.
As a result of showing this piece, I have been contacted by relatives of people who were caught up in the 25th May 1917 air raid and I now have more visual reference material and more stories to add. If I had the money to do so I would work on this subject more. I feel that I’ll return to this in the future. It has been a, very sad, labour of love.
I’ve written a lot more about this in previous posts. Please click on the ‘Folkestone’ category of this blog or scroll back to find my previous posts.
“They looked like silver birds. The sun was shining in them…” is a piece about the victims of the 1917 air raid on Folkestone. It was selected for the 2013 Jerwood Drawing Prize (now the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize).
I became obsessed with this subject for years. It became a labour of love but it was a very difficult subject to work on from an emotional point of view, I had to keep taking breaks away from it as the work developed. If I had the means to work on this more I would do.
Here is one of my YouTube videos of the work. I’ve written about it in previous posts which you can find if you scroll back through this blog or by going to the ‘catagories’ list.
I shall be talking about my work at ‘DRAW Brighton’ on Saturday 22nd February. This is from the Draw Brighton website:
“Roy Eastland is an acclaimed silver point artist who’s work has been featured in the prestigious The Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize, Jerwood Drawing Prize and ING Discerning Eye Drawing Bursary exhibitions. In this one-off event he will be discussing his work and attitude towards drawing with Draw tutor Jake Spicer as well as answering questions from everybody attending.
This session will not be held in the main Draw studio, but in studio 7A, Level 3 in New England House. Places are very limited and booking is essential; the talk begins at 5:30pm, with doors open from 5pm. Tea, coffee and biscuits will be provided; please call 07805201057 on the day for access to New England House. The talk is free for Atelier and Drawing Pass holders – however you will need to book a paying place via the link and you will refunded on the day.
Please note, this is not a drawing workshop, although you will be welcome to attend the last section of the Saturday long pose after the talk if you are feeling inspired to draw! You can see more of Roy Eastland’s drawings on his website: http://ow.ly/QGUV50yhYVQ
Time: 17:30 → 19:00
Location: Studio 7A
I’ve noticed that whenever I have exhibitions, I tend to experience a slump in mood soon after the exhibition is over. I’m not talking here of actual Depression. But it’s a definite low mood.
I’ve just brought my ‘Margate NOW 2019’ solo show to an end. It was called “Displaced Portraits” and it consisted of thirty-three drawing, most of which were silverpoint drawings (see previous posts). The response to them was overwhelmingly positive. I really could not have asked for a more interesting and encouraging mix of comments from the people who saw the work. Best of all was the fact that people were really spending time to look at the drawings and to think about them. But despite all the positive feedback and conversations I’m left feeling stuck in the doldrums. It’s going to take me a while to process the whole experience.
Here are some images from the show. I’ll try and find the time to write about the work sometime soon. For now, you might like to pop over to my YouTube channel to see some short videos of the exhibition and also my Instagram account.
Thank you, Eddie and Lucy for allowing me to have my exhibition in your place!
The Margate Now 2019 art festival continues through to January and runs alongside Turner Contemporary’s showing of this year’s Turner Prize.
I’m going to be taking part in the ‘Margate NOW’ art festival in October.
My solo show, ‘Displaced Portraits’, will be on display at Gordon House in Margate on: 18th, 19th, 20th, 24th, 25th, 26th and 27th of October.
The exhibition will consist of a series of small silverpoint drawings of people seen in photographs taken in 1930s/1940s Germany and found in a Margate junkshop, drawings based on photo booth images of my mum and dad, and images of people disguised in costume. All the drawings have a Margate connection.
Here is number 10 of this series. The original photograph captured the presence this person being still for a moment somewhere – my drawings are a kind of meditation on this displaced trace of that tiny moment in her life. Somehow it found its way into my hands via a junk shop in Cliftonville, Margate. I wonder in what ways our lives are connected with each other’s.
This drawing has been repeatedly re-worked. It’s come and gone and come and gone umpteen times over. It died for a while (see my previous post). I’m going to leave it as it is now.
I lose faith in my drawings and they die. Would it be more accurate to say that I kill them or is it that they never quite manage to come alive? It’s probably a hopeless task to try and make drawings that ‘live’ but that is always what I hope for.
And so, I suppose, most of my drawings are failures. Each one is a different kind of failure. It is never the same but it is always heart breaking to spend so much time and effort and to have so little to show for it. Some people might say they all of these failed drawings were ‘finished’ several times over. Not for me they weren’t.
Here is a silverpoint drawing I’ve been working on for about eleven days over the course of about three weeks. I often work on drawings for much longer than that. This was/is number eleven of my series of ‘Displaced Portraits’. These are drawings based on people in photographs which I’ve found at different times in the same Margate secondhand shop. The photographs were taken in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s. Number three of this series was selected for the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize. See my previous posts for more about this series of drawings.
I’ve been working on a series of small silverpoint drawings called ‘Displaced Portraits’. The drawings are of people who were photographed in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s. All of the photographs share the fact that they were all found at different times in the same Margate second hand shop.
The drawings are worked on over the course of months. They are never straight forward copies of photographs. Each piece is repeatedly scratched-away and then redrawn. This process of loss and re-finding takes place over and over again. In each reworking something new comes into play. The process brings about moments of unpredictability.
I don’t quite know what it is that I’m trying to create or trying to see in these drawings. I know that I’m trying the understand these people’s faces but it’s not only that. I’m hoping to be surprised by what comes to the surface as I work on them. I can’t explain it but it is something which can only come through the act of repeated re-drawing and endless re-looking and re-imaging. The original photographs are the traces of tiny moments in time; my drawings are a kind of repeated meditation on those traces.
‘Displaced Portrait No:4 (man from Kiel)’ is based on a small photograph which has Kiel stamped on the reverse side. I know nothing more about this man. The focus of the drawing is the face. It’s a drawing which could have been finished several times over. I did believe it was finished months ago and I had put it away in a drawer in my studio and there it sat until I decided to work on it again. Now it is finished. Perhaps I should say that it is finished for now.
Here are a few pictures of the private view at the Royal Drawing School of the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize exhibition. The exhibition has been at its present venue since the start of February but the private view was just last week. I’m glad I went to the private view and it was great to meet artists whose work I admire and who I’d only ever ‘met’ through the medium of say twitter or Instagram until now.
My piece in this show is a small silverpoint drawing which is one of an ongoing series of drawings called: ‘Displaced Portraits’. The drawings are of people seen in photographs taken in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s and found in a Margate second hand shop at different times. ‘Displaced Portrait no:3 (woman in carefully repaired image)’ is drawn from a photograph which had been torn in two and then so carefully repaired that you can’t see the damage at first glance.
The drawing is based on the photograph but it isn’t a straight forward copy. The piece has been repeatedly drawn, scratched-away and redrawn. These drawings are worked on over long periods of time and the process, of loss and re-finding, is unpredictable. The recurring focus is always the person I am trying to draw out of their snapshot image. There is no way of ever really knowing if I’m getting close but I hope the people I am trying to draw would see themselves in my drawings.
Drawing is always a medium trace. At it’s most fundamental level, a drawing is a surface with a mark on it indicating the passing presence of an though; it always says ‘someone was here’. The drawings are of people displaced from their place and moment. An image of their moment has found its way into my hands here in Margate in the early 21st century. Everything which lasts eventually becomes displaced.
Metalpoint drawings emphasise the quality of trace in the most beautiful way. A silverpoint line is the mark left when the metal is dragged across a prepared surface (imagine a key being dragged across an emulsion-painted wall and you get the rough idea). The mark is extremely subtle but it is also indelible. Silverpoint lines are extremely gentle mark; the line is not made any more emphatic by pressing harder and you are forced to work with the medium with its unique limitations and qualities. Drawing with metalpoint is an appropriate medium for my interest in making Art about memory and presence.
The exhibition continues at the Royal Drawing School until 21st February and then moves on to Drawing Projects in Trowbridge, near Salisbury.
See my post from 23rd August 2018 for a full view of my drawing.