This is number eleven of a series of small silverpoint drawings of people who had their pictures taken in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s. These photographs found their way into my hands via a second-hand shop in Cliftonville, Margate (UK). I exhibited them as part of my ‘Margate Now’ (art festival) solo show in October.
Number three of this series for included in the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize 2018. Please scroll back through my blog to find more about this body of work.
My ‘Margate Now’ festival exhibition is installed at Gordon House in Margate. It consists of thirty-three small, mostly silverpoint, drawings.
“Displaced Portraits” is a series of metalpoint drawings based on images of people photographed in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s. The photographs have found their way from the Ruhr, in the 1940s, into my hands via a second hand shop in Margate. The original images capture the momentary look of people being still: my drawings are a kind of meditation on those traces of moments in people’s lives and our connections with one and other.
The exhibition continues and is open on Thursday 24th, Friday 25th, Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th October. The opening times are: 12:30 – 4pm and 11am to 5pm on Saturday. I shall be there throughout and will be very happy to discuss my work and ideas.
Gordon House’s gallery space is a basement gallery and so there are some steps down to it (see my YouTube videos). It is venue no29 in the festival and the address is: Gordon House, Churchfield Place, CT9 1PJ. The Margate Now art festival runs alongside Turner Contemporary’s Turner Prize exhibition.
This is one of my ‘Displaced Portrait’ drawings. I’ve been struggling with it for ages but now I think I might leave it alone.
The piece is part of an ongoing series of small silverpoint drawings based on images of people seen in old photographs which were taken in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s. All the photographs were found in the same Margate junk shop but they were all found separately and at different times. There is no reason to suppose the people in the various images ever met each other, but then again you never know. And likewise there is no way of knowing how their images made their way to this secondhand shop. These are drawings of unknown people found in old photos and brought into our presence through the act of drawing.
This drawing is called ‘Displaced Portrait no:7 (woman from Myslowice/Myslowitz)’. The photograph is dated 1944 and was printed in Myslowice. Myslowice is in Silesia in Poland. Silesia had a sizeable German-speaking population and it became part of an expanded Germany during The Second World War. At the end of the war the ethnic Germans were expelled.
My drawings come about through a process of continual revision and redrawing. The drawing process becomes a meditative act of concentration and focus upon a single, unknown, and possibly forgotten, face. I hope to make these people seem present again in our own here and now, a time with our its own worries about the future of Europe. Everything will eventually become displaced in time.
Number three of this series of drawings will be shown in The Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize exhibtion in a few weeks. The Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize is the new incarnation of what used to be The Jerwood Drawing Prize. I’m thrilled to taking part in this and I’m looking forward to seeing the other drawings and looking forward to hearing what people make of my work.
These two silverpoint drawings are of people posing in fancy dress somewhere in Margate. One drawing is of people in the 1930s and the other is of people in the 2010s.
Both are currently on display at the Young Gallery in Salisbury in a small solo exhibition running alongside an exhibition of British 20th century paintings chosen from the Arts Council collection by the curator Peter Riley. I’m showing eleven silverpoint works and sixteen sketchbooks.
‘Margate Creatives, 2010s’ is based on a Facebook post from a Margate-themed party, held a few years ago at The Lido, Cliftonville, Margate. It shows two women in fancy dress. One is dressed as an estate agents’ sign and the other is dressed as a local businessman. Margate is currently experiencing the mixed blessings of ‘cultural regeneration’.
‘Margate Imperialists, 1930s’ is a group portrait based on a small postcard photograph found at an antique fair. The people in this drawing might be dressed for an Empire Day event or something similar. Here we see cliched depictions of working class, ethnic and foreign ‘types’ surrounding a young woman dressed as Britannia. Any similarities between anyone in this drawing and anyone currently living in Margate or Cliftonville are coincidental.
The choices of costume in both of these images are interesting and they both express something about the social attitudes of their times and places.
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 at a moment in time. These people are expressing themselves and their time through their disguises. A few years after this Europe was at war.
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 choose to dress, or what they are required to wear for their jobs, can 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’.
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.
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.