‘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.

Drawing

LIMBO ARTS SUBSTATION  MARGATE DRAWING EXHIBITION

‘SUBJECT TO CHANGE’, the Drawing exhibition at LIMBO Arts in Margate, has just come to an end. It gave me the chance to show my most recent work, to discuss the work and to look forward to my small solo show, at Millennium St Ives, in the autumn. Thank you to Daniella Turbin, Selina Bonelli and LIMBO for having my work in the show.  Here is another one of the four silverpoint drawings I had in the show.  I’ve posted a video of it on youtube and on my ‘Roy Eastland’ facebook page.

Contemporary Drawing exhibition in Margate

Roy Eastland LIMBO, Art, Margate. silverpoint drawingI’m taking part in an exhibition, in Margate, from Thursday 3rd July. It’s at LIMBO, Substation Project Space, Bilton Square (a small courtyard tucked away just off the High Street). The exhibition focuses on Drawing.  It shows a diverse range of approaches to Drawing and includes works which will evolve and develop as the exhibition continues.

It’s called: ‘SUBJECT TO CHANGE’ and it runs from 3rd July until 13 July and is open between 12 and 5pm each day. The other artists are: Dan Bass, Selina Bonelli, Greig Burgoyne, Jenny Core, Tania Robertson, Venessa Larsen, John Jo Murray and Daniella Turbin (it has been organised by Daniella Turbin).

I’ll be showing a set of silverpoint drawings and some sketchbooks.  The silverpoint drawings are the first four of a series of drawings for a small solo show at Millennium gallery in St Ives in the autumn.

See also: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Roy-Eastland/1495390357351370?ref=hl

 

Sketchbooks exhibited in The Drawing Room at The Beaney in Canterbury

The Drawing Room gallerySketchbooks on show in The Drawing Room galleryThe Drawing Room at The Beaney

I’ve installed an exhibition of my drawings and sketchbooks in The Drawing Room of The Beaney in Canterbury (the full name for the museum is: ‘The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge’ but that’s a bit of a mouth full and so everyone calls it ‘The Beaney’).  It’s on until 5th January 2014.  http://www.canterbury.co.uk/Beaney/explore/Armchair-Residency-Roy-Eastland.aspx

Here is a draft of the fourth blog for my Artist Residency at The Beaney:

The Beaney House of Knowledge and Art: The Front Room ‘Armchair Artist Residency’ blog.

Blog number four, December 2013:

I’ve installed an exhibition of my drawings and sketchbooks in The Drawing Room at The Beaney.  I managed to squeeze everything that is in the exhibition into a couple of large shoulder bags and lug the whole lot over to Canterbury on the number 8 bus.  The journey from Margate takes the best part of an hour and I’ve been doing this trip a lot since becoming the ‘Front Room Artist Armchair Resident’.  This journey has become an important aspect of my ‘Residency’ at The Beaney.  The bus takes me along a line in the landscape which has been there for centuries.  Upstairs at the front of the bus is a good place to sit and notice things and to let my mind wander and to notice myself noticing.

My exhibition consists of twenty sketchbooks and sixteen loose drawings (I’ve posted a video tour of it on my youtube channel to give you an idea of it).  The loose drawings were done in The Beaney as part of the ‘Front Room Artist Armchair residency’ and the sketchbooks are all recent ones containing drawings of people.  When I installed the work I made the decision to place drawings so that they might subtly relate to each other or direct the gaze in certain ways.  There is no hidden message or overarching theme here.  I simply thought that their placing might bring something extra into play in the mind of the viewer – it is whimsical.  I offer my drawings as things to look at and it’s up to the viewer to look at the drawings and notice things and let the mind wander.

None of these drawings were done for the purpose of being exhibited.  They weren’t designed as ‘Works of Art’ or with an exhibition in mind.  Each drawing was done separately and for its own sake.  If they share a theme, it is that they are all drawings that pay attention to the physical presence of things.  There are drawings of inanimate objects (made of marble, bronze and silver) that were made to look like people and there are drawings of real people being still.  It’s a wonderful thing when someone is happy to be still and let you draw them.  If I did nothing else with my life, drawing people would be a good use of a lifetime.  I wish I could do it more often.

We change our minds when we draw.  ‘Objective Drawing’ is a process of continual revision (a good rule-of-thumb is that if your drawing isn’t going wrong then you’re just not trying hard enough!).  Drawings are the trace-evidence of a mind making sense of things.  They show us that someone was here and that they were interested in the presence of someone or of something outside of themselves.

Across the room from my drawings is a small oblong-shaped piece of vellum covered in neat pen-and-ink hand-writing: The Godwine Charter.  A thousand years ago it had a practical function as a legal document but now it has an afterlife as an object of contemplation in a museum.  We can appreciate it as a kind of drawing.  Hand-writing and the kind of lines you find in drawings are similar things.  Both of them are products of human touch and of the time it took to draw them.  That particular human presence and that particular moment of time are subtly replayed every time another person sees it.  It is both trivial and wonderful.  A similar effect can be felt in places too.  My bus journey to Canterbury draws me along a line in the landscape which was already old when that scribe’s pen was forming those letters on that piece of vellum which sits across the room from my drawings.

Museums are full of things that have survived to hint at what was here and what took place.  They put us in company with people separated from us by a distance of time.  I wonder how long my sketchbooks will last.  I wonder what will become of them.  I wonder who my drawings are for.

My second Drawing blog for The Beaney, Canterbury.

Roy Eastland 2013 silverpoint drawing on gesso  Tuesday 22nd Nov 1983

This was origianlly posted on The Beaney’s website.  You can also find it here: https://www.a-n.co.uk/blogs/i-draw

You can find more drawings there and also my going to my facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/#!/roy.eastlanddrawing

 

 

The Beaney House of Knowledge and Art: The Front Room ‘Armchair Artist Residency’ blog.

Blog number two, October 2013:

I continue drawing objects in The Beaney.

The Epstein portrait of Hewlett Johnson (The Red Dean of Canterbury) continues to draw me to it.  Stylistically, it is a typical Epstein portrait with all his signature mannerisms (you’ll see a ‘family resemblance’ about the eyes and lips in all of his portraits).  And yet, this work is believable as a portrait of a particular person with a personality.  It feels alive.  Perhaps part of its aliveness comes from the way in which the viewer is made to complete its form in the mind’s eye.  Its surface is made up of scored lines, clumps of material and deep hollows that catch the light and create shadows so that the sense of the form is partly a figment of sight as well as the presence of the actual physical form.  The slightly fragmented character of the surface generates a sense of unsettledness and movement.  We have to make a little effort to reconcile the various layers of depth and surface details to see its completeness and this makes looking at this portrait an intimate experience full of subtle and surprising moments of recognition and sense of completion.  I like this sculpture and I feel that I like the person it portrays.

A different kind of portrait bust can be found in the ‘Materials and Masters’ room.  I spent far too long trying to draw this, Neo-Classical style, marble portrait of a man from the early nineteenth century whose identity is not known to us today.  I wondered if I could conjure a sense of what he might have been like in life from spending time drawing his marble portrait.

This object was carved more than a hundred years before the Epstein portrait was modelled and cast.  The light on its smooth, and hard-to-like, shiny surface made it difficult to see its form and its style, with its ‘classicised’ treatment of surface and detail, made it hard to get beneath the surface to feel the presence of a personality.  As I spent more and more time making drawings of it I found myself liking it less and less.  The ‘Classical’ stylisation of the eyes made them especially unrewarding to draw.  Given more time, and if I had the will to make the effort, I’m sure I could make something of this.

I look at my drawings and I can see hints of ideas to come.  Drawing works like that; the things we learn when we draw can’t always be recognised at the time but we get a slight sense of something interesting coming into play.  In the case of my drawings of this object I can see that there is something about the use of fine contour lines that might bare fruit in some future drawing.

As you draw in museums you can’t help but over-hear the things people say.  At one point a couple approached this sculpture and I heard one of them say something like: “Oh look at this, it’s a Roman Emperor” and then, as they got nearer: “Oh, no, it says here that it’s an ‘unknown’ man.” and then they walked away without looking at it.  If the person who paid for this portrait wanted future people to look at it and have nice thoughts about him, he was diddled.

The Latham Centrepiece continues to intrigue me.  I remember seeing this when it was part of The Buffs Regimental Museum (my mum would sometimes take me to Canterbury on the bus and we might go to The Cathedral, The Westgate Tower, The Pilgrim’s Hospital or The Buffs Museum).  The Latham Centrepiece isn’t a fine work of Art but it is dramatic and its purpose was to pass on a story of Lt Matthew Latham’s bravery and self-sacrifice at The Battle of Albuera in 1811.  It succeeds in this perfectly.  It shows Latham, having already lost an arm, grappling with a cavalryman for possession of a ragged flag.  We might quibble at the inaccuracy of the uniforms but a more telling inaccuracy is the way in which the true gruesomeness of his injuries has been left out in order to tell the story.  The reality of the event was that, even before he received the wound to his arm, Latham had been slashed in the face and had lost part of his face and his nose.  He was left for dead on the battle field but managed to survive and in 1815 the Prince Regent paid for him to have reconstructive surgery to restore his nose.  A medal was especially designed for him as a tribute to his loyal bravery and he continued to serve in The British Army and eventually retired and moved to France.  In a letter, published in The United Service Gazette of 25th April 1840, it was noted that he “lives at this moment in a secluded part of France, where for years he has remained, unnoticed and unknown.”

These objects were made to tell us about people and perhaps to transmit feelings about them.  As I continue to draw in The Beaney I also continue to work at my other artwork.  All of my drawings feed into to each other in ways that can’t be predicted.  A recent piece is a small (less than half A5 in scale) portrait of my mum (drawn in silver on gesso).  It is based on an unused photo booth image from a strip of three that is dated on the back (in her hand-writing which I have copied on the drawing): Tuesday 22nd November 1983.  It’s part of a projected series of small silverpoint portrait drawings based on unused photo booth images.  In this drawing, as with a lot of my work, I have included text as well as drawing.  It’s an object that, like the ones I’ve been drawing in The Beaney, will go into the future and might or might not mean something to people there.

Here’s the link to the blog: http://www.canterbury.co.uk/Beaney/explore/Armchair-Residency-Roy-Eastland.aspx