The Millennium Gallery, St Ives, Cornwall

I’m thrilled to have some of my ‘Dancing/Dying Toy Soldier’ drawings on show at the Millennium Gallery in St Ives Cornwall.  ‘THE MILLENNIUM MIXED WINTER EXHIBITION’ is on until 14th January 2012.  You can watch a video tour of the show if you go to the gallery website at: www.millenniumgallery.co.uk .  I have four, small (roughly 4.5 cm x 6 cm), silverpoint drawings included in the exhibition.  They are part of an ongoing series of related drawings which take massed-produced plastic model soldiers as their repeated point of focus (specifically the ones depicting dying soldiers).

These little toys depict an imagined final moment of life (on the cusp of standing and falling or of consciousness and unconsciousness), but they might also be seen as depictions of people lost within a moment of ecstatic dancing.  Through repeatedly redrawing these serious and dramatic little toys, something bigger and unpredicted comes into play.  Each drawing is worked on over long periods of time.  The evidence of earlier drawing is partially sanded away before the drawing process begins again.  Each new attempt to draw the thing leaves its trace in the next and so the drawings build through partially controlled process of loss and re-emergence.

Etching needles and scalpel blades are also employed as drawing tools.  The gesso surface is incised with needle-narrow lines which might follow or predict the silverpoint lines or interrupt and cut across them.  These figures are re-imagined through drawing but the presence of the original object is always the constant and primary point of reference.  These toys become something more significant through the attention paid to them through drawing them.

Silverpoint drawings are made by drawing a piece of silver wire across a prepared surface.  The silver reacts with the gesso leaving a silvery mid-tone grey trace of a line.  These lines slowly become more of a brown colour over time (if I was to make a silverpoint drawing each day and place them all side by side, you would see the beautifully subtle change in colour between the first and the last drawing).  Silverpoint lines are never very dark.  They cannot be rubbed out, but the brittle chalky gesso surface can be scratched-into and sanded between each new period of drawing.

Go to: www.millenniumgallery.co.uk/winter11/winter11.htm to see a video tour of the show.

This drawing (along with another, related, drawing) was selected for the Jerwood Drawing Prize, in 2009, and was also included in my solo exhibition at Marine Studios in Margate.

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Drawing at the rehearsals for ‘Hansel and Gretel’ at The Theatre Royal, Margate

Will Wollen, the artistic director of Margate’s Theatre Royal, invited me to come along and observe and draw during the rehearsals for this year’s Christmas play (I did a similar thing last year and made about two hundred drawings of the actors as they rehearsed and developed the play in a nearby church hall). This year, and frustratingly for me, I could only make it along for a few hours each day for just the final three days. I did about fifty sketchbook drawings of the actors as they rehearsed sections of the play and worked out the various technical details of the performance such as the lighting, sound, the use of the set and props and so on (the woods move and become the interior of a house and the house made of cake turns into an elaborate witch’s oven! …ooh, don’t be having nightmares now!).

The drawings of the actors had to be done with great speed because they were in constant movement.  The drawings had to be done without looking at the paper.  There wasn’t time to make fine adjustments or corrections.  Whatever mark was made had to stand as the trace of that particular moment spent noticing certain aspects of the actors’ presence on the stage. A line might move across the page at a speed which follows the movement of the person being drawn (as they move across my field of vision). In the next moment I might hurriedly try to note the momentary positions of the hands, or the shape formed by an arm and so on. None of the actors’ movements were ever repeated in quite the same way and so the drawn lines are traces of time and movement as well as presence and appearance.

I’m amazed at the amount of skill, effort and care that is going into producing this play. In an ideal world, I would have had the time to make drawings of the whole process from start to finish. This wasn’t to be but it was a privilege to be allowed to haunt the auditorium with my sketchbook and observe, notice and draw.

 

Drawing ‘The Kiss’ at Turner Contemporary, Margate

silverpoint on gesso drawings of the kiss at Turner Contemporary Roy Eastlandbiro on gesso drawings of Rodin's 'The Kiss' at Turner Contemporary. Roy Eastland
I was invited by Turner Contemporary to spend a couple of Tuesday afternoons in the Sunley Gallery drawing Rodin’s famous sculpture ‘The Kiss’. Lots of people came along and spent some time drawing or talking about drawing and you can see photographs of these ‘Inspired by Rodin’ afternoons by visiting: http://www.flikr.com/photos/turnercontemporary/sets .

Drawing Rodin’s ‘The Kiss’ at Turner Contemporary

On the 25th October and the 1st November (between 1pm and 4pm) I shall be in the Turner Contemporary, in Margate, drawing Rodin’s famous sculpture, The Kiss.  If you are in the area on those days, come along and have a look at my drawings, chat about the drawings or have a go at drawing it yourself (see: www.turnercontemporary.org).  I will post some of my drawings on this blog.

As a lead up to this project, I have been drawing various other sculptures and hope to start work on The Kiss shortly.  Below is a sketchbook drawing of Rodin’s St John the Baptist from the V&A’s collection.

Life Drawing lessons at Margate Adult Education Centre

I teach Life Drawing at the Margate Adult Education Centre.  This is located in an amazing Art Deco period building on the corner of Hawley Square – a lovely old Georgian Square with some beautiful old trees in its centre that might even have been here for all that time!  It’s around the corner from Cecil Square and it is on several bus routes and just a short walk along the seafront from the railway station.  It was originally built as an art college and the present day art room used to be the Life Room back in the days when it was the Thanet School of Art (Walter Sickert even gave some lectures about drawing here in 1934!).  We’re so lucky to have this building and I love teaching here in this place!

Margate postcard drawing

“…will be seeing you soon” 2011 graphite, gesso, varnish on board (8.5cm x 13.5cm)

“…will be seeing you soon” is one of an ongoing series of drawings based on a postcard, of a rough sea at Margate, which was sent from Margate to an address in London in May 1946.  This drawing is about the same size as the original postcard and it has been worked on at various times over the course of about three years (it is often the case that my drawings are worked on at various times over the course months or years).  The message reads: “Dear All, Having a good time although the weather could be a lot better. The air here soon makes you a feel a lot better. Will be seeing you soon. Love Rita & Eileen.  The post mark is dated: ‘Margate, Kent, 2pm, 30 may, 1946’ and it is stamped with the words: ‘DON’T WASTE BREAD OTHERS NEED IT’ in block capitals.

The hand-written message gives us a glimpse into other people’s experiences of life.  For example, the writer mentions that the air in Margate can make you “feel a lot better” and that the weather was bad during the time that ‘Rita and Eileen’ stayed in Margate … and so on.  The wording of the postmark (the appeal to people not to waste bread) and its date (one year after the end of The Second World War) brings the wider world into the picture and reminds us that each lived moment is part of a bigger, social and political, situation.

The image on the postcard shows us the moment when an incoming wave collided with a wave returning seaward after hitting the chalk cliffs.  This little event, repeated endlessly in its various forms throughout time, happened to be captured in a photograph one day in the early 1900s (certain details on The Jetty date the original photograph to around 1910).  Everything that is present in the postcard has gone; the people who wrote and received the card have gone, The Jetty was destroyed by a storm in the 1970s and the gradually-eroding cliffs are now protected by a sea wall (even so, these soft chalk cliffs continue to crumble and disappear over time).

These drawings, in common with most of my recent work, come into being through processes of repeated revision and redrawing. Transcriptions of the hand-written message and the words and lettering of the postmark are repeatedly inscribed and then repeatedly drawn over so that the presence of the words and the presence of the picture compete and merge.  Each new layer of redrawing influences the formation of the next.  Each drawing evolves in its own unpredictable way as the drawing’s emphasis shifts (at one time the focus might be on the pictorial elements, another time it will focus on to trying to understand the structure of the wave formation, the next it might centre on the hand-written text, and so on).

These drawings can be seen as portraits of a wave.  They also hint at the presence of people in a particular place in time. They use an ordinary postcard sent from an old East Kent seaside town to play with the idea that ordinary, unimportant, human moments are interesting or wonderful and can be re-sent out into the world as careful works of art.

Drawings

roy eastland sketch book drawing from book 104Please click on ‘pages’ to look at some more drawings. You can click on the images to get a better picture.

I graduated from Edinburgh College of Art and have exhibitied in numerous exhibitions including: The Jerwood Drawing Prize, The BP Portrait Award, Hunting Art Prizes, Discerning Eye, The Turner Contemporary Open, The London Art Fair, Zoo Art Fair, Miami Art Fair, The British Art Fair and solo exhibitions (see the ‘About me’ page of this blog).

You can contact me via email at: royeastland [at] hotmail [dot] com