New drawing

Margate Creatives 2010s, silverpoint drawing, Roy Eastland

Margate Creatives, 2010s (silverpoint on gesso on board, 20.7cm x 14.2cm) is one of an ongoing series of small silverpoint drawings of people in costume, or in uniform, with a connection to the English seaside town of Margate.

How people chose to dress, or what they are required to wear for their jobs, say a lot about a particular place at a particular time.

For example, small photograph of a smiling man, dressed in Battledress and walking down Cliftonville’s Northdown Road on a sunny day in 1940, says something about Margate during a time of war; and yet it is also just a picture of a smiling man seen on a sunny day (this image may become the basis of a future drawing) .

In my drawing, Margate Imperialists, 1930s (see earlier posts), we see men dressed as women, someone dressed as a working class ‘Margate Landlady’, a black-faced minstrel and a member of the Klu Klux Klan.  All of these people are assembled around a young woman dressed as Britannia.  Perhaps it was Empire Day.

In 2010s Margate we see two women at a Margate-themed party: one dressed as a local businessman and the other dressed as an estate agent’s ‘SOLD’ sign.  Margate is presently experiencing the mixed blessings of ‘cultural regeneration’.

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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 recently on show at the National Portrait Gallery in London (The Portrait Gala 2017)

National Portrait Gallery, Portrait Gala 2017, Mystery Portrait Postcard, silverpoint drawing, ROY EASTLAND

This drawing (silverpoint on gesso on board) was recently on show at The National Portrait Gallery, in London, in an exhibition which included about a hundred A5 size portraits donated by mystery artists.  The work was for sale as part of the 2017 Portrait Gala event and The Mystery Portrait Postcard exhibition.  The gala event and exhibition were part of a fund raising event to raise money for the gallery.  The exhibition lasted for about three weeks but the names of the artists were kept a secret until just last week.  I’m now allowed to say that this one was mine.

The drawing is based on a photo booth image of my mum which was probably used for a bus pass.  It’s one of an on going series of drawings based on photo booth images.  Photobooth images capture little, unimportant, moments of a person’s life.

Scroll down this home page or click on the ‘people’ category to find examples of related works.

Another resting drawing

margate-people-postcard-1930s-silverpoint-drawing

This drawing is resting.  I stopped work on it a couple of months ago.  I might continue to work on it sometime in the future but for now it’s resting in a drawer.

The medium is silverpoint on gesso (click on ‘silverpoint’ on the list of categories to read about the medium) and it’s about the size of a sheet of A4 paper.  It’s based on a postcard, probably from the mid 1930s, of people dressed in fancy dress somewhere in Margate.  This drawing was to form part of a series of drawings based on images of people, with a Margate connection, dressed in costumes of some sort.  The idea was to have the drawings shown together and to allow people to make connections between the people in the different drawings and to bigger world events (the images I have in mind are from before or during The Second World War). It’s also to think about identity and what we imagine about others  based on the way they look.  I’ve worked on several versions of this image (and on sections of it) but for now the work is resting.  It might be years before work in this begins again.

A new term of Life Drawing

life-drawing-classes-margate-hilderstone

It’s at this time of year, as the new academic term is about to start, that I start to get anxious about student numbers and worry about whether of not the Life Drawing courses I teach, the ones I teach at Margate Adult Education Centre, will run or not.  If they don’t run I don’t get paid, and so I worry about money as too.

Margate Adult Education Centre is not well known locally.  It’s a shame because the Margate Adult Education Centre is such a lovely building, it has purpose built art rooms and its right in the centre of Margate.  It was built as an art college (an F.E. college) way back in 1929 (opened in 1931).  The room I teach Life Drawing in is the same room in which Life Drawing was taught from the 1930s until about 1970, when it became the ‘Hilderstone’ Adult Education Centre, and has continued to be used as a Life Room until now.  I’m the latest of a long succession of artists to teach Life Drawing in this space going back eighty-five years!

If rooms have ghosts then I’d like to imagine that this room’s ghosts are happiest whenever someone is in there drawing.  The room’s wooden, herringbone-pattern, floor is drawn with decades’ worth of scratches and scuffs from the dragged feet of easels, chairs and tables.  Scratches like this are a kind of drawing – they trace the presence of the others who were here before.

A dais, which models sometimes pose on, is the same dais pictured in a photograph of Portrait Drawing class taken in the room in 1931.   The teacher seen in the photograph advising a student is ‘Mr Willis’.  I’ve spoken to people who were students here in the early 1960s and all have fond memories of ‘Mr Willis’ (he was still teaching there until about 1964).  He would confiscate students’ rubbers (erasers for those of you who speak American English) if they used them too much in their drawings.  I wouldn’t go quite that far in my teaching practice but I like the idea.  The great Walter Sickert gave three talks on drawing in the building in 1934.  Sickert also insisted that students draw without rubbing out and to draw quickly, at least at the start of a drawing.  Mr Willis will have attended those lectures.

We have to change our minds when we draw and the mistakes are just the evidence of those changes – they are virtuous things really and they need to be in play in our drawings if we are to make an honest drawing.  When we begin a drawing of someone we don’t really know what we are in the presence of.  We think we do but we don’t.  We think we know what a person looks like but our first thoughts are usually just our habits of seeing and our drawing-tricks.  We have to be prepared to change our minds about what we think we are in the presence of if we have any hope of getting our drawings to resemble our thoughts and perceptions.

Anyway, I’m hoping they’ll be enough students for the courses to be allowed to run and I wait to find out.

If you’re reading this and you live within striking distance of Margate, and fancy coming to my Life Drawing classes, go onto the Kent Adult Education website (https://www.kentadulteducation.co.uk/brands/mnid_123/Mr-Roy-James-Eastland.aspx) or find my facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Roy-Eastland-1495390357351370/) or twitter (https://twitter.com/royeastlanddraw).  I’ll be teaching courses here next term and in the future (including some all-day Saturday workshops).  I’ll also be teaching Life Drawing at the Sidney Cooper Drawing Studio in Canterbury (Canterbury Christ Church University). 

Drawings on display in Margate

Roy Eastland, Pie Factory gallery, MARGATE, The Luminous and The Grey, exhibition

Some views of my work in a recent group exhibition which I was invited to take part in at the Pie Factory gallery space in Margate.  The show was called ‘The Luminous and The Grey’.   It also included work by Shona McGovern (who has recently found out that she’s had a drawing accepted for the Jerwood Drawing Prize!), Helen Brooker, Jane Kullman, Tina Atchison-Thomas, Graham Ward and Penny Watts.

Click on the ‘silverpoint’ category (to the side of this post) to read more about the sort of work I had on show in this exhibition.

Thank you to everyone who came to the exhibition and to the other artists in the show who invited me to add my work to the exhibition!

Here is a link to my facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1729139147345839/

Margate drawing

surfboat disaster 1897 Margate.  ...my people humble people who expect nothing... EASTLAND 2016This is a very small (about 5 cm x 6.7cm) silverpoint drawing of ‘the lifeboat man’ statue which stands on the seafront on one end of Margate Sands (next to the Victorian shelter which has started to be called ‘the TS Eliot shelter’ by some).  The Lifeboat man looks out to sea towards the site of the 1897 ‘Friend to all Nations’ surfboat disaster.  It’s a familiar local landmark and it’s something I’ve looked at and half looked at countless times.  But my drawing isn’t specifically about that event; it’s more a drawing about my feelings about that point along the seafront.  It’s just a drawing.

The lifeboatman is the obvious central figure but behind the figure you can glimpse the Arlington House tower block (Margate’s ‘sky scraper’) and on the bottom left of the drawing you can see the top of the art deco fin of the Dreamland Cinema tower.  These features occupy the picture space as if they too were figures (which they are in a way).  I was careful to draw a separation between the figure of the Lifeboatman and Arlington House and the figure is drawn so that it can be seen as being part of the pictorial space and/or as a separate figure.  A lot of ideas come into play as I draw and these all have an influence on the way my drawings take shape.  Sometimes these ideas are sensed by the viewer and sometimes there are not: it doesn’t matter; it’s not an illustration of a view but more an attempt to create a kind of psychological souvenir of a particular place.

The statue was placed there over a hundred years ago (it’s been moved a short distance from its original setting but it still looks out towards the same point in the sea), Dreamland cinema was built a generation later and Arlington House a generation after that.  They all presently share the same moment in time but only the statue was there when TS Eliot was here (he is known to have stayed in Margate for a time when he was working on his poem,  ‘The Wasteland’).  The drawing is fragmented by the unevenness of its surface and by lines of words which have been repeatedly re-written across its surface.  The picture, then, is never a singular image of a view but a drawing which hints at other versions and other visions.  The words scribed onto and into the surface of the drawing happen to be from that section of TS Eliot’s poem which mention Margate and which, according to recent local tradition, was partly written in the Victorian shelter just by the side of the statue (next to the modern public toilet block which has the word: ‘TOILETS’ impressed into its concrete walls.

All views include elements of the past mixed with the present.  The details in this drawing bring various moments of time in company with each other in one little place.  But this is a lot to write about such a humble little drawing and it is only a drawing after all.  Then again, drawings are never just drawings anymore than poems are just pleasing lines of words or souvenirs just bits of bric-a-brac.

When I draw I like to use processes which bring unpredictability into the play.  This drawing has been repeatedly redrawn and its surface has been repeated sanded back, scribbled over and written over (both in silverpoint and also with etching needles which scratch into and fragment the drawing’s surface).  It’s a lot of work to put into such a little drawing.  I’m never really sure what it is I’m really trying to draw.

This drawing was done for its own sake but it might lead on to other things.  It has reawakened some a half-ideas I have to create panoramic drawings of Margate made up of various small drawings.  We’ll see.