I’ve called this blog ‘I draw’ because my art-work is centred around The Art of Drawing. I am interested in making art about people, presence and our experience of time. I think Drawing is an especially appropriate medium for my ideas.
I am an artist from Margate.
I recently took the four-hour train journey from Margate to Salisbury to see an old drawing of mine which is on show at The Young Gallery. I’ll be showing more of my work there later this year but for now I have a drawing on show as part of the ‘Members’ Choice’ exhibition.
The Members’ Choice show is an exhibition of works selected by gallery members and drawn from the permanent collections (I was especially pleased to come across an early Cecil Collins drawing in the show). When I was there last week, there were two excellent solo shows by Anita Taylor and Eleanor Bartlett (I had just missed the Kathe Kollwitz exhibition by about a week). There are four gallery spaces within The Young Gallery as a whole and I urge you to go and have a look if you find yourself in the area.
My piece is called “Reculver seemed like the edge of the world to me when was little…” and it’s from around 2001-2002. It was the first of what developed into a series of works using hand-written text and images and repeated re-working and layering as a way to make drawings which were kind-of-like views of Margate as if seen from the sea (I have some images of a few of these works over on my WordPress blog and you can find them by clicking on the ‘Sea’ category on the side of the home page).
This drawing was shown in my solo show at the droit house during the 2002 Margate Rocks, Contemporary Arts Festival and the title of the drawing was also the title of my show. The droit house venue was the exhibition space for what would become Turner Contemporary and later it was shown at Archeus Fine Art Ltd in London. Now it is in The Creasey Collection at The Young Gallery.
In terms of its medium, the drawing is made from layers of emulsion and varnish which was scratched into and paint-stripped and re-drawn time and time again. The hand-written text both flattens and conjures a sense of spacial depth. Each re-drawing of the lines of words begin with: “Reculver seemed like the edge of the world to me when I was little. You couldn’t always see it but you know it was always there…”. Each time it was re-written/re-drawn the text would change and what eventually remains are glimpses of sentences and stories.
This work developed out of ideas I was working on when I was still living in Edinburgh and at a time when I didn’t know that I would soon be moving back to my home town of Margate. Reculver is the site of an early ‘Saxon’ church built within a Roman fort and it’s remaining 12th century twin towers are a local landmark along the coast. It is usually the furthest thing you can see from Margate when you look towards the west. It’s also a landmark seen from the train when returning from somewhere along the Ramsgate to Victoria line.
I think The Young Gallery deserves to be better known than it is at present and I will be showing work there in June, July and August this year. Go and have a look and like their facebook page and follow them on Twitter and all that!
I have some work on show in the Anima-Mundi winter exhibition in St Ives at the moment.
The piece shown here is called ‘Margate Imperialists 1930s’. It is about the size of A4 and is drawn with silver on gesso on board. The work is based on a found postcard showing people dressed in fancy dress, probably in the mid 1930s, somewhere in Margate.
Their choice of costume is interesting and says something about that moment in time and that place at that moment in time. The presence of ‘Britannia’ in the centre of the group leads me to hazard a guess that they are present at an Empire Day event.
This is one of a series of drawings based on what I can see in a small postcard found in an antique fair. It’s a kind of souvenir of peoples’ attitudes about identity.
Any similarities between anyone in the drawing and anyone presently living in Cliftonville or Margate may or might not be coincidental.
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.
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’.
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.