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I’m very happy to find that my metalpoint drawing, ‘Mum’, has been selected for the Mall Galleries’ ‘Figurative Art Now’ exhibition (7th July – 20th September).

‘Mum’ is a drawing done in gold and silverpoint on gesso on board (a metalpoint drawing). I started working on it at least two years ago, and I’ve worked on it, off and on, for sixty-four days. It’s been abandoned several times but I kept on returning to it.

The portrait image is mostly based in a small identity photograph which was probably the last photographic image of my mum. But it’s not a straightforward copy of a single image. Other image, as well as my own memory, have also influenced the way the drawings has taken shape over time. My drawing-process, of repeated scratching-away and redrawing, is my way of trying to get at something I could not have foreseen but which feels true.

This drawing has been several drawings really. But then aren’t all drawings really several drawings? It’s in the nature of Drawings be unsettled and uncertain works of art. I think drawings are more like questions than statements. Drawings let you in; there are always gaps in the surface. We see traces of earlier, and different, versions which nevertheless still point towards the same thing. I like to think of Drawings as meeting places of moments, and of thoughts and touch.

In common with a lot of my drawings, this piece has been repeatedly scratched-into, scratched-away and redrawn. The look of it has altered through each reiteration. At times, during the course of this drawing, there was a lot more text in the drawing than is now the case. But you can still see traces of their lines all over the drawing if you look hard enough. These lines of hand-written text are lines of remembered speech on the subject of having a home.

It’s been an emotionally difficult drawing to work on but I’m glad it reached an end-point and I’m pleased that it’s going to be on shown as part of The Mall Galleries’ ‘Figurative Art Now’ exhibtion.

Figurative Art Now runs from 7th July until 20th September. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the exhibition will be shown online only. The selectors were the artists Barbara Walker and Andrew Gifford, Clare O’Brien (CEO of the Mall Galleries), Jo Baring (Director of the Ingram Collection) and Jonathan Watkins (Director of the Ikon Gallery).


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