Margate Creatives, 2010s (silverpoint on gesso on board, 20.7cm x 14.2cm) is one of an ongoing series of small silverpoint drawings of people in costume, or in uniform, with a connection to the English seaside town of Margate.
How people chose to dress, or what they are required to wear for their jobs, say a lot about a particular place at a particular time.
For example, small photograph of a smiling man, dressed in Battledress and walking down Cliftonville’s Northdown Road on a sunny day in 1940, says something about Margate during a time of war; and yet it is also just a picture of a smiling man seen on a sunny day (this image may become the basis of a future drawing) .
In my drawing, Margate Imperialists, 1930s (see earlier posts), we see men dressed as women, someone dressed as a working class ‘Margate Landlady’, a black-faced minstrel and a member of the Klu Klux Klan. All of these people are assembled around a young woman dressed as Britannia. Perhaps it was Empire Day.
In 2010s Margate we see two women at a Margate-themed party: one dressed as a local businessman and the other dressed as an estate agent’s ‘SOLD’ sign. Margate is presently experiencing the mixed blessings of ‘cultural regeneration’.
If I could make money from the amount of time and I spend (waste?) working on things that never get to be finished works of art I would be a very, very, rich man.
I tell myself that all the effort will bare fruit in the fullness of time and that all the time and effort is an investment in works of art yet to come. Somehow or other, in spite of my doubts, I seem to keep the faith and keep on working away at my ideas and drawings. I couldn’t tell you why.
I’ve dug these silverpoint drawings out of their drawer to look at them and see if looking at them will suggests a possible next move. I’m showing them here because otherwise they might never be seen or become finished works of art. These are not finished drawings but they each have their moments: subtle things that suggests possible next moves.
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.
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.
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.
I’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!
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