I’m in the running for the 2017 ING Discerning Eye Drawing Bursary and these four drawings will be on show as part of it in November.  Five artists have been selected and the winner of the bursary will be announced at the opening on 16th November.

I’m really thrilled to be selected for this and I’m looking forward to seeing the other artists’ drawings.  I’m also looking forward to having my work seen in the flesh.  Images on the internet give an impression of what my work looks like but you really need to spend time with the real things to see how they work.

They are drawn with silver and with sandpaper, etching needles and scalpel blades.  The process of their making is a slightly unpredictable process of repeated drawing and of partial erasure and re-drawing.

I’ll be showing four silverpoint drawings as part of the ING Discerning Eye Drawing Bursary exhibition (plus I have another silverpoint drawing in the main Discerning Eye exhibition as well).  One of the four drawings (‘Margate Creatives, 2010’s’) was discussed a little in my previous blog post; the other three are all based on unused photo booth images.

These drawings are based on photo booth images but they are really about moments of time and the presence of someone being still and alone for a moment.  They are drawings of tiny moments in someone’s life at which no one else was present.

They contain blocks of hand-written text as well and an image of a person.  The texts are made up of lines of remembered speech and familiar stories (they happen to be of my mum and dad) but the sentences are repeatedly re-written and sanded away and so the stories become fragmentary but with repeated phrases and words coming more clearly to the surface.  The blocks of text also play with pictorial depth and flatness (they might appear as waves or as cloud-like layers of drawn or written lines).  I hope people will spend time with them and look at them from various distances and angles.

This work is part of a longer-term project of making art which makes connections between disparate people and moments in time with the location of Margate (which is my hometown).  In common with a lot of people who try to make art, I struggle to find the time and the money to make the work I want to make and so getting the bursary money would make a big difference in my life and so fingers crossed!

The 2017 ING Discerning Eye Drawing Bursary and the ING Discerning Eye Exhibition runs from 16th November until the 26th November.


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Margate Creatives. 2010s (silverpoint on gesso, 20.7cm x 14.2cm) is one of an ongoing series of small metalpoint drawings of people in costume, or uniform, with a connection to the sea side town of Margate.  It’s part of a long term project using found images and old photographs which have the town of Margate as the connecting theme throughout.

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

A photograph of a smiling man, dressed in battledress and walking down Cliftonville’s Northdown Road on a sunny day in 1940, says something about the world beyond Margate but it is also just a picture of a happy-looking person on a sunny day (this image may form the basis of a future drawing).

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

In this drawing we see two women dressed for a Margate-themed party: one is dressed as a local businessman and the other is dressed as a local estate agent’s ‘SOLD’ sign.  Margate is presently experiencing the process of ‘cultural regeneration’.

 


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I murder my own drawings. I don’t mean to do it but I can’t help myself. I either work them to death or I lose faith in them and they die of neglect. Either way, most of my time seems to be spent working on things that never become finished works of art that anyone will ever see.

It’s disheartening to spend so much time and to have so little to show for it. I tell myself that all this effort is an investment for future, and as yet unimagined, works of art. I do hope so.

Here are some dead drawings. Some of them might just be resting. The common link with all of these works is that they all have something to do with Margate (my home town). Some of the drawings of heads are based on tiny photographs found in a junk shop in Margate. They were taken in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s. I’m gradually building a body of work about people and moments which have Margate as their meeting point.

In these drawings I’m resurrecting some discarded traces of people’s lives. These people were alive in Germany in the 1930s and early 1940s. But what can we imagine about someone from the way they look?

Drawings take time. To draw something is to pay careful attention to its presence and to create a new trace of its presence. We change our minds as we draw. The outcome is always unpredictable.

I don’t know if I’ve quite lost faith in these drawings just yet, not quite. There is still hope. Perhaps it’s just the hope of hope but that will have to do.


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Thursday was the one hundredth anniversary of the 25th May 1917 Folkestone Air Raid.

Here are some pictures of part of the commemorative event which included an exhibition in The Folkestone Methodist Church in Sandgate Road, a memorial service, an unveiling of a plaque and a walking tour.

It was organised by Margaret Care (a descendant of William Stokes – one of the air raid’s victims) and local historian Martin Easdown (Martin has researched and written two books about the air raid).  They originally expected about 40 people to attend.  As it turned out, there were a lot more than that and there weren’t enough seats for everyone at the church service.

I displayed my silverpoint drawing “They looked like silver birds. The sun was shining on them…” . This work is about the people killed by the bomb in Tontine Street.

I’m glad I was there – a mixture of being drawn close to a horrible event of a hundred years ago and of connecting a moment in the past with the present moment and of one hundred year old threads of memories being drawn together in a room on a hot sunny day in Folkestone.  I had fascinating conversations with relatives of people who were there a hundred years ago and I am sure that I must have missed out on many other conversions.  At times I had the strange experience of seeing, or imagining I was seeing, family-resemblances in people that I had made drawings of.

I’m still processing what I experienced on Thursday but here’s one little detail from the event: Annie Beer was killed in Tontine Street along with her daughter and nephews.  Her husband eventually remarried in the 1930s but he didn’t speak much about his first wife and family and so when he died, so the story goes, friends were surprised to find that he had a picture of his first wife within a locket (on the inside of a pocket watch in fact) which he had with him at the time of death.  I already knew this story and I had included it in my drawing.  However, I had no idea this object still existed anywhere in the world.  And yet, there, on one of the display tables, was the actual pocket watch and that photograph of Annie Beer.  Later in the afternoon I found myself speaking to a woman who was the granddaughter from that second marriage.

I’m glad I made my artwork about those people.  I hope it’s a good work of art.  First and foremost it is a work of art and not an illustration of historical details.  I hope it’s a true and respectful work of art.

Some of the relatives of people in my drawing had seen the work in The Jerwood Drawing Prize exhibitions or via the internet.  Even before yesterday, people had contacted me and shared family memories which I hope I can place in future work.  Ideally I would like to make a new body of work about this.  Time will tell.

This memorial event coincided with an excellent Radio Four Afternoon Play, ‘A Lightening’ by Sarah Daniels – I recommend you have a listen to it on BBC Radio4 iPlayer.

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