This drawing is a work in progress. If it reaches a conclusion it might take part in a show I’ll be having at the Young Gallery, in Salisbury, which begins on the 9th June. It is one of an ongoing series of drawings of unknown (unknown to me) people who were photographed in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s.
What can we tell about a person from how they appear to us? The repeated point of reference with each of these drawings are photographs found in a Margate second hand shop. I wonder what became of these people? I wonder what draws me to pay this careful and time-consuming attention to these traces of small moments in strangers’ lives? Why do I want to resurrect them through drawing?
I have about four weeks until I hang my work for a show at The Young Gallery, in Salisbury. This show has been on my mind for months but I’ve yet to settle on definite plan as to what to show and how to show it.
My work will be shown alongside an exhibition of work from the Arts Council collection of figurative painters. The main exhibition is called ‘20th century Figurative Art – Arts Council Collection’ and will include work by Michael Andrews, Frank Auerbach, Patrick Caulfield, Lucian Freud, Howard Hodgkin, Ken Kiff, Leon Kossoff, Euan Uglow, David Hockney and Francis Bacon. My work will be shown in large glass cabinets and will be a solo show. It runs from the second week in June until the 25th August.
The Young Gallery, in Salisbury, is my latest favourite art gallery. I have an old drawing on show in the ‘Members’ Choice’ exhibition there. This is an exhibtion of works selected from the gallery’s permanent collections.
The drawing is one from around 2001 and it was one which began a series of drawings about Margate that combined imaginary views of the town with layers of hand-written text (click on the ‘sea’ catagories listed to the top-right of the ‘home page’). The work is about memory and place.
The title of the piece is “Reculver seemed like the edge of the world to me when I was little…”. It contains layered hand-written sentences which begin with the line: “Reculver seemed like the edge of the world to me when I was little. You couldn’t always see it but you knew it was always there…”. Each re-writing of the text varies from the previous ones and each new layer partially obscures the previous versions.
This is the second time it’s been selected for an exhibition at The Young Gallery. I feel very honoured to have had people respond to the work so positively.
The Young Gallery deserves to be better known. It has four gallery spaces and recent shows include the touring Ikon Gallery and British Museum Kathe Kollwitz exhibition and a solo show of Anita Taylor’s amazing (and very large) drawings.
Go and have a look round The Young Gallery if you are in the area!
I don’t want to show you what I’m working on right this moment because it’s top secret, hush, hush.
So instead, here’s a picture of an ongoing metalpoint drawing which I continue to work on from time to time and which is part of a larger project about people seen in old photographs found in a Margate second hand shop.
There is a Margate connection with all of these drawings: some are definitely drawings of people who were in Margate at some point in time but others may never have been here and only their images ever found their way to The Isle of Thanet. For some reason or other their images were eventually placed in a junk shop in Cliftonville from where they came into my hands. Now I’m drawing them and wondering what connections there might be between me and them.
The photograph which this particular silverpoint drawing is based upon is an old photograph which was probably taken in Germany in the 1930s or 1940s. At some point in time it had been torn in half but then so carefully glued back together again that it wasn’t obvious at first that it had been torn in two. I want to find a way to get the fact of its partial destruction and its careful fixing into the stuff of the drawing itself – it’s an interesting artistic problem.
I’ve been looking through some drawings done as demonstrations for drawing exercises in my Life Drawing classes. The new term of Life Drawing courses at Margate Adult Education Centre starts this week.
This drawing is from a drawing exercise about relooking and moving on to the next moment. In this exercise the model holds a pose for a short amount of time and then moves to a second position and then back to the first and then back again to the second, three times over. In this drawing the model probably held the poses for about 15 seconds each time but the students usually get a minute and then 30 seconds each time. What the drawer is drawing is different each time and even if it were humanly possible for the model to reoccupy the exact-same pose the drawer will have changed their mind about what they find interesting, what they see and what they think. We look and make a decision and then we must move on to the next moment and let the drawing be what it is. The ‘finished’ drawing will be the traces of the accumulated decisions and there are always choices to be made (are we thinking about the edges, proximity, tone, angles, the course of a line, the character of the line, the weight of the mark, the sharpness, the touch… etc?). The line is a good line if it is an honest line responding to the changes of mind. In drawing a line we change our minds.
This exercise makes us more aware of the way that drawing ‘The Figure’ is never about drawing something complete and settled. All is in time and our line traces those moments and says “for this moment this was the case and this is as close as I could get to it”. Drawing like this acknowledges the fact that there are always multiple version of the same thing and our drawn lines don’t need to agree on the matter in order to be correct.
I teach Life Drawing at Margate Adult Education Centre, The Sidney Cooper Gallery (Canterbury Christ Church University) and occasionally at other places too. We presently need a few more people to enrol on the Thursday morning Life Drawing for it to be allowed to run and so book a place asap please if you’re interested.
Here is a link to the courses I teach at the Kent Adult Education: https://www.kentadulteducation.co.uk/brands/mnid_123/Mr-Roy-James-Eastland.aspx
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).
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.
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.