Sketching in the story
The exhibition which opens on Saturday (4th March at 11.00) comes from a project I set myself fifteen months ago – to put one life drawing, every day through 2016, online (as a daily tweet, as Facebook post and a daily addition to the gallery on this website). I managed to keep it up, and of course felt supported by ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ when they appeared – not always for the ones I felt were best. For a couple of hours each week, I draw from life. I usually bring back up to half a dozen drawings. A very few of the sketches in this show are many years old, but the vast bulk date from the past few years, right up to a couple of weeks ago. Some were done in seconds: 30 second concentrated looking and then 30 seconds quick sketch. Some, colour ones, had up to two hours.
But every image here is done entirely with a model, in the studio (recently, that is usually in the convivial studio of Marilyn Panto) and none is developed afterwards, none worked on subsequently. This is my definition of a ‘sketch.’
The discipline of looking, really looking with care, exploring ways of seeing, has been central to my life.
In 2015, I had a photographic exhibition, also in the Lewes House of Friendship (as well as in Udine, Italy), entitled “On the impossibility of seeing what is in front of the eyes.” I was exploring the way a camera can encourage us to see rather than ‘knowing too much’ which encourages us to edit out what is actually in front of us. Often we don’t ‘see’ everything, and especially with double images, shadows or reflections we have learned to be half-blind. Here photographs can be revealing of another reality of form, pattern and image.
As the exact opposite, with drawing one has to edit out, and often the key skill is in what is omitted, which therefore enlivens the viewer’s imagination. But one also has to look amazingly carefully to see what we presume we know.
What is close and what far are visually juxtaposed, and especially in extremely foreshortened perspectives, though our brain knows, of course, that the near hand is not bigger than the far foot, the observer must work as did Mantegna in the mid-15th Century to make the appearance convincing.
At The House of Friendship, 208 High Street, Lewes on Saturday and Sunday, 4th and 5th, and 11th and 12th March 2017 when we will be brewing tea or coffee and cake between 11.00am and 4.00pm. All welcome!