My work selected for the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize 2018

‘Displaced Portrait no:3 (young woman in carefully repaired image), silverpoint, 21×14.5cm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My silverpoint drawing has been selected for the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize 2018 and I’m very pleased about that!

The Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize is the new incarnation of what was The Jerwood Drawing Prize. It’s the main, yearly, Contemporary Drawing exhibition and I see it as a kind annual survey of Contemporary Drawing practice in the UK. It is always worth seeing.

My drawing which has been selected is one of a growing body of work which ‘resurrects’ unknown people (unknown to me at least) from found photographs which were  taken in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s. All of the original images were found in a junk shop in Margate. I came across them all at different times and most of them seem to have been taken in different German towns.

‘Displaced Portrait no: 3 (young woman in carefully repaired image)’ is based on a photograph which had been torn in two and then very carefully glued back together again. This woman now has a kind of afterlife as an art object. What can we tell about a person from the way they appear to us? The fact that the photograph was damaged and then carefully repaired is intriguing.

My drawings are based on photographs but they are not simply copies of them. Details have been altered, tones have been modified, and each has been repeated scratched-away and redrawn and worked on over long periods of time to get to something which feels real to me.

I’m not quite sure what it is I am attempting to do with these drawings. I sort of know but I can’t really say beyond that it has something to do with our experience of time and of human presence. I realise that’s a bit vague but it’s the best I can come up with for now  (I might rewrite this post later). I like to think of my drawings as moments of connection between moments in time. Drawings take time. Hand-drawn lines are traces of presence and of time, and of a mind engaged in the act of looking and thinking. Perhaps in drawing these people I am drawing ghosts.

The selectors for the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize 2018 are the artist Nigel Hall RA, the art dealer Megan Piper and Chris Stephens, Director of the Holburne Museum in Bath.

The exhibition will open in September in London and will tour various galleries across the country for the best part of a year. Look out for it later in the year.

I presently have a solo exhibtion at the Young Gallery, Salisbury, which runs alongside the 20th century British figurative artists exhibition, curated by Peter Riley from the Arts Council Collection.

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Exhibition in Salisbury taking shape.

I’ve been installing the work for my upcoming exhibition at The Young Gallery in Salisbury. This small solo exhibition of sixteen sketchbooks and eleven silverpoint drawings will occupy two large museum cabinets and is set to run alongside an exhibtion of British 20th century paintings chosen, from the Arts Council Collection, by the curator Peter Riley. ‘20th century Figurative Art – Arts Council Collection’ will include work by Craigie Aitchison, Michael Andrews, Frank Auerbach, Patrick Caulfield, Lucian Freud, Howard Hodgkin, Ken Kiff, Euan Uglow, David Hockney and Lucian Freud.

Installing my work at The Young Gallery, Salisbury.

My drawings are displayed in two large cabinets each containing silverpoint drawings and sketchbooks. The silverpoint drawings can be grouped into three different, but related, sections. On one side of the free-standing cabinet is a piece entitled “They looked like silver birds. The sun was shining on them…”. This drawing consists of sixty-eight panels containing small portrait drawings and hand-written text representing the individuals killed in an air raid in Folkestone in 1917. The title comes from an eye witness account of seeing the German, Gotha, bombers high-up overhead in the early evening sunlight just moments before the bomb exploded amidst a queue standing outside a greengrocer’s shop. Each person has a panel with their name and age and a description of their injury and some information about their life. Where I could find no visual reference for a particular individual the space for that person’s portrait remains blank.

On the other side of this cabinet are two silverpoint drawings based on found images of people in fancy dress: ‘Margate Creatives, 2010s’ and ‘Margate Imperialists, 1930s’. Each shows people dressed for a fancy dress event. The choice of costumes in both of these images hint at the social and political attitudes of people who were present in Margate both recently and eighty years ago.

The choices of costume (someone dressed for a Margate-themed party as an estate agent’s ‘SOLD’ sign and people dressed up as working class and foreign ‘types’) draw attention to questions of taste and self-expression, and of identity and colonialism.

Work being installed in the wall cabinet.

In the largest cabinet is a line of three sets of small silverpoint portraits which are based on photo booth images: ‘Tuesday NOV 22 1983’, ‘Photo booth portrait’ and ‘1996 bus pass portrait’. Here are drawings of someone in a moment of stillness in their life; a moment which no one else witnessed and which hardly mean anything at all other than the fact that they draw attention to the fact that someone was present somewhere for a moment in time. These works also contain blocks of hand-written text (another kind of drawing).

Along the bottom of each of the cabinets is a line of opened sketchbooks showing more drawings of people. These drawings were done for the sake of drawing and for the sake of thinking about drawing and for no other reason. They are drawings of the moment and were not made as preparatory drawings for ‘finished’ works of art; they are complete in their ‘unfinishedness’ as traces of time spent paying attention to the presence of people being still.

A drawing is the meeting point of moments. A drawing can say: ‘See! This was the case and these are the traces of a mind paying attention to the presence of things. Here! These lines are points of convergence of past, present and future and we are all still here’.

If you are interested in seeing these drawings you can visit the exhibition from 9th June until 25th August. There will be a private view on 20th June (contact the gallery for an invite) and I’ll be teaching some Life Drawing workshops at the gallery as well.

I shall write in more depth about these drawings in future blog posts.

Curator Peter Riley and me at The Young Gallery, Salisbury. (image by Emily Peasgood)

Work on show at the London Art Fair

roy eastland LONDON ART FAIRSome of my drawings will be on show at The London Art Fair.

GBS Fine Art Ltd will be showing some of my work at the 2018 London Art Fair from 17th until the 21st January.

I hope to be able to get up to London on Friday – maybe see some of you there!

Look out also for Margate based gallerist Chiara Williams Contemporary Art who’ll be showing the work of The Solo Award winner Francis Richardson.

 

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.

 

Folkestone air raid memorial

“They looked like silver birds. The sun was shining on them…” is my 2011-2012 drawing about the people who were killed by a bomb which exploded in Tontine Street, Folkestone, during the air raid of 25th May 1917.  This work was recently on display in Folkestone at a memorial event for the one hundredth anniversary of the air raid.

The 25th May 2017 was the first time it had been on show in Folkestone (this meant a lot to me and it nearly didn’t happen). Previously it had been included in the 2013 Jerwood Drawing Prize and was exhibited in various galleries around the country in 2013 and 2014 including galleries in London (Jerwood Space), Newcastle (Hatton Gallery), Plymouth (Plymouth Art College / Plymouth Arts Centre) and Canterbury (Sidney Cooper Gallery).  It has also been seen in exhibitions in my home town, Margate, and once again at the Sidney Cooper Gallery as part of an exhibition focusing on art and poetry about The First World War called ‘Remembering: we forget’.

Up until now this work has be seen in art galleries.  The typical ‘white cube’ style art gallery space allows the viewer to see the work in ideal conditions without other visual distractions.  It’s easier to notice the subtleties in a work of art when there is only the work of art in your line of sight.

On Thursday 25th May 2017 it was displayed in The Folkestone Methodist Church, in Sandgate Road, propped up by a couple of cushions on a table by the entrance in a narrow space between the backs of chairs and the wall beneath a bright fabric mural.  The light reflecting on it from a high, long, window made it hard to see.  If this had been an art gallery setting I wouldn’t have been happy, but on this particular day and in this particular place the important thing about its presentation was that it was sitting there in Folkestone and it was being looked at by people in Folkestone (some of whom were relatives of people in my drawing).

The event was organised by Margaret Care, a descendant of one of the people who died as a result of the Tontine Street bomb, and Martin Easdown, a local historian who has done research into and has written about the air raid and who’s book, A Glint in the Sky, was a key source of information about the air raid in the early stages of my work.

The day included an exhibition, a memorial service, an unveiling of a new memorial plaque and a walking tour.  It was a labour of love for them.  Margaret’s family have been placing flowers to remember the victims every year since 1918.  Until now the only memorial to the people who were killed in the air raid has been a modest plaque at the site of the Tontine Street explosion, next to the Brewery Tap pub (which is now a art venue for the UCA within Folkestone’s Creative Quarter).

The people who came were a mix of relatives of people who had been killed in the air raid, curious local people, local historians, people from local media, people working on Radio Four’s, ‘Home Front’ drama series (which is set in Folkestone during the First World War) and local dignitaries.  There was a constant supply of cups of tea (which is always a good thing) and I had conversations with relatives of people who had died in the air raid and I met people I had previously only corresponded with via emails, and I’m sure I missed out on conversations too.

“They looked like silver birds. The sun was shining on them…” is part of an ongoing body of work connected with the 1917 air raid.  People who’s relatives were caught up in the air raid had contacted me, after seeing my work in exhibitions or via the internet, and they have shared their family-stories, and their fragments of stories and little, human, details which I might one day put into future work.  I have information now which I didn’t have at the time of working on this drawing; part of me feels a pull towards making new work, while another part of me wants to leave it alone now (it can be hard to focus on such a sad thing for long periods of time).

Time will tell if I work on this further but I have a feeling that this isn’t the end of the story.

 

And another thing: those of you who listen to BBC Radio Four might be aware of the drama series ‘Home Front’. The series is set in Folkestone during the First World War and you might find the 25th May Afternoon Play, ‘A Lightening’, interesting (you can find it on BBC Radio Four iPlayer).  This Thursday 8th May, the editor of the series, Jessica Dromgoole, will be giving a talk about the series at the beautiful, and very, very old, St Mary’s and St Eanswythe’s Church in Folkestone.  Go to it after you’ve voted.

…and please do vote!

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.