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.

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Work on show in St Ives

roy eastland margate art metalpoint drawingI’m very pleased to be having my work on show at the Anima-Mundi ‘Mixed Winter 17’ exhibition at the moment.

If you happen to be in the vicinity of St Ives, in West Cornwall, over the next few weeks then pop in and have a look!

For now, here is a link to the Anima-Mundi website: https://www.anima-mundi.co.uk/mixed-winter-17

 

A drawing

roy eastland, margate, mum, silverpoint, metalpoint, drawing
This drawing was recently on show in the ING Discerning Eye Drawing Bursary exhibition. The medium is silver on gesso on board (metalpoint/silverpoint). It’s one of an occasional on-going series of drawings based on photo booth images.
Photo booth images capture little moments of time which only the automatically timed camera shots ever witnessed; the sitter is usually alone, waiting for that moment to become a fixed image. The older types of photo booths gave the sitter four chances, four moments, to make a portrait good enough (or not too awful) to be used for, say, a bus pass or a membership card. Sometimes the moments were mistimed. The mistimed images would be unflattering but, perhaps, more interesting than the properly posed ones. This drawing is based an unused photo booth image of my mum.
The drawing is based on a photograph but it isn’t simply a copy of it. It has been repeatedly redrawn, sanded-away and scratched-into again and again. The image emerges out of this process of loss and finding. Below the drawing of the face is a block of hand-written text. The text is made up of multiple re-writings of lines of remembered speech and familiar stories. Each time the stories are re-written they are different and each re-writing both obscures and reinforces parts of earlier versions. Some repeated words are visibly more present and some fragments of sentences can be glimpsed but the there is never a single version which can be followed through to its end – just fragments and hints of what was present.
The hand-writing is a kind of drawing. Lines of words written on top or beside drawings can flatten pictorial depth but the over-laying of lines of words can evoke a sense of spatial depth – they can conjure a sense of rhythm and of movement. The closer the viewer looks the more the work disintegrates into scratches and lines and traces of movement.  Drawings – hand-made drawings – are traces of presence and movement and time (life).
None of these drawings can ever really be said to be finished; there is no end-point with these works – they are simply left as they are to be whatever they are. I sometimes rework old drawings but this one is safe from that fate as someone else owns it.
This was one of four drawings recently on show at The Mall Galleries, in London, as part of the ING Discerning Eye Drawing Bursary exhibition. The other artists were: Alexandra Blum, Susannah Douglas, Craig Jefferson, Max Naylor, Daksha Patel and Eithne Twomey.

I’m in the running for the 2017 ING Discerning Eye Drawing Bursary!

Roy Eastland, 'Photo booth portrait 1', silverpoint drawing, ING DIscerning Eye Drawing Bursary

I’ve had my work selected for the 2017 ING Discerning Eye Drawing Bursary and I’m very pleased about it.

I’m thrilled to be in the running for the bursary and I’m also very much looking forward to having people see my work in the flesh. Photographs and scans give an impression of what they look like but they can’t convey the subtleties of the combination of the metallic traces and the scratches on the gesso surfaces. You really need to see the drawings for real and from various distances and to be able to look at them from the side as well as from face-on. It feels good to know that they are going to be looked at.

The ING Discerning Eye Drawing Bursary exhibition will be at The Mall Galleries, London, from mid-November, alongside the larger ING Discerning Eye exhibition (my drawing, ‘Margate Imperialists, 1930s’, has been selected for that as well). The winner of the bursary will be announced at the private view on 16th November. I’m not sure how many artists are selected for the Drawing Bursary exhibition but I think it’s around half a dozen or so. It’ll be a contemporary drawing exhibition in its own right and it’s going to feel good to be part of it. Of course I hope I win the bursary money (it would make a huge difference to what I am able to achieve with my art if I were to get it) but I can’t let myself to think about that too much (fingers crossed though!).

This particular drawing (Photo booth portrait drawing 1’) is one of the silverpoint drawings that will be on show. It’s one of a series of silverpoint drawings based on photo booth images. These drawings are drawings of moments when a person sat alone and still for a moment and waited for the sequence of four automatically timed flash photographs to be played out. It happens to be of my mum but the same would be the case for anyone and I’d love to find some photo booth images of people I’ve never known to draw from.

The slightly mistimed ones are more interesting than the ones which were the least bad ones (they never look good do they) that become images for bus passes and such like. For some reason or other an intact sequence of three from a strip of four survive and this drawing is based on one of them.

The drawings also contain a block of repeated, hand-written, lines of text. The text is made up of remembered speech and familiar stories. The lines of words are drawn over each other and become difficult to make sense of but some repeated phrases and words come through so that the stories come to the surface as fragments of events and memories.

The block of text is also a kind of drawing in itself. The lines of words are perhaps suggestive of waves and they conjure a kind of pictorial depth but they also flatten pictorial space at too. I hope people will look closely at both the image of the face and at the words; perhaps the after-image of each will play on the other and create a sense of subtle movement (life?).

I like the idea of making art which incorporates traces of multiple moments of time in one place. But it’s really up to the viewer to see whatever they see and even though I might be conscious of putting a lot of ideas into my drawings I really don’t mind if others ‘get it’ or not: all I can do is to offer these works as objects to spend time with and to notice what comes to mind while in their company.

Anyway, if you are in London in the second half on November, have a look at the exhibition and see what you think.

The Discerning Eye Exhibition runs from the 16th until the 26th November.

‘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.

 

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.

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.

tontine-street-folkestone-gotha-bomber-victims-1917tontine-street-air-raid-victims-folkestone-1917