Study visit in Bristol to DRAWN - The Open College of the Arts
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Study visit in Bristol to DRAWN

This is a post from the archive. Information contained within it may now be out of date.
There’s a study visit in plan for April 19th starting at 11 am at the Royal West of England Academy in Bristol. OCA tutors Linda Khatir and Michele Whiting will be running the event.

Doug Burton, OCA tutor, has reviewed the exhibition for us, below.
‘This new drawing exhibition at the Royal West of England Academy (RWA) in Bristol, aims to show a survey of both traditional and experimental techniques in drawing. “Drawn” brings together artists from a range of disciplines, in order to raise the profile of drawing as both an autonomous creative act and interdisciplinary tool. Drawing Tutor Doug Burton has 3 new drawings in the exhibition and reports on his findings.
The RWA is a beautiful exhibition space, the main staircase as you enter the building gently brings you up to the entrance to the central gallery space. I have been fortunate enough to show my work at the RWA before and I am always pleased to see the hanging of work is done without the usual feeling of intensity and clutter that is often found with a ‘salon’ type display of artwork more traditionally associated with the Royal Academy of Arts. The first drawings to catch my attention are by artist duo Lorraine Robbins and Daniel Sparkes, their two drawings are of Dalmatian type Dogs, which at first glance look extremely benign, but are attractively drawn in pencil on paper. Upon closer inspection all is not as it seems when a dark urban fantasy comes to life within the physical state of the dogs themselves, part momento mori part slapstick brutality of the kind Jake and Dinos Chapman have summoned up.

There are two invited artists to the exhibition, Simon Read and Reece Jones. I studied at the Royal Academy with Reece and was pleased to see two of his works here. Reece has made an impact on the art world with his large scale charcoal on paper works that are executed with sumptuous quality. As a drawing Tutor I am often telling my students to be robust with the charcoal and build up layers so that when you use a rubber it almost carves into the charcoal revealing the tonality within the material – Reece is a master at this creating atmospheric works that are filmic in nature and concept. He has two smaller drawings here that explore a super-natural narrative; a plane of white light emerges from a desert floor as foot steps in the sand show a human presence that has now disappeared into the entity. Simon Read has two extremely large pencil on paper drawings that respond to a conceptual framework that he puts in place at the beginning of the creative process and then follows through as the idea takes hold. The technical drawing of the ‘ship in a bottle’ idea is very impressive and it is interesting to see an artist working with grand ambition, who wants to impress us with the monumentality of the idea that he is evolving.

I was interested to see how the figure would be re-imagined in the context of this show, as I walked round the gallery there seemed to be a bias towards the landscape as subject. There were a few dynamic examples of the drawn figure, in particular a large scale triptych of three figures by Yvonne Crossley, cunningly titled ‘Meyouthem’. Drawn in a sculptural manner using pigment ink, she makes a tightly woven circular line that creates an endless energy encompassing the entirety of the figure. This was reminiscent of the kind of playful visual aesthetic that the Sculptor Anthony Gormley uses in his more recent figures, using wire and geometry to build up the human form.

The winner of the RWA innovation in drawing award was Fiona Hingston with her work ‘Furrow No.3’. The drawing uses earth and charcoal on paper to create a dense rocky landmass that rises up to meet your gaze and tries to envelop you in its physical presence. I liked this drawing for its ability to create something so physical in presence and for allowing the experimental use of earth as a medium to create a brooding nature to the work, that reminded me of the dark landscapes of Samuel Palmer.
The RWA is running a drawing Lab in one of the gallery rooms, giving the opportunity for the public to engage with the RWA artists and the artists in residence. One of the Artists in Residence Debbie Locke, has created a kinetic drawing machine at the far end of this project space, that jerks and springs around a large piece of paper that is hung on the wall. The machine is responding to a series of commands and it seems to be making random marks that are actually coalescing to become a pattern or code of sorts. Debbie Locke is interested in mapping and she has placed GPS tracking signals onto members of the public as they walk around Bristol. Like rats in a cage we become part of the artwork giving both orders to the machine in the gallery and making a comment on the link between our irrational movements and the logic of amassing that data in the form of a cumulative group drawing. My own drawings for the show relate to a kind of mapping of our terrain. I have recently made a three-dimensional laser scanner that I can take out with me on walks and scan the landscape that runs under foot. The resulting linear drawings become a sort of cast of the environment, transforming the physical in nature into a linear study. I was interested in taking this idea further for the show and have also made an animation of one of these walks, that engages with the drawn line as both horizon and microcosm.

There is a full itinerary of events while the show is on until the 2nd of June, from family workshops to discussions, but most of all I would say it would be worth making a trip to the RWA in order to see the vast array of possibilities that drawing can bring, from this most ancient of art form this exhibition shows that drawing can have the ability to surprise and ignite the imagination.’
All images courtesy of Doug Burton 2013
Image list:
1 Doug Burton, ‘Linear Land-Study (Freshly Mowed Lawn)’, digital print on archival paper
2 Lorraine Robbins & Daniel Sparkes, ’40 Milligrammes Memento Magnus’, ‘Stoaties Iron Yard’ pencil on paper
3 Reece Jones, ‘Windbreak 1’, ‘This is England’, charcoal on paper
4 Simon Read, ‘The Escape of the Royal George 1’, ‘The Escape of the Royal George 2’, pencil on paper
5 Fiona Hingston, ‘Furrow No.3’, earth, charcoal on paper
6 Yvonne Crossley, ‘Meyouthem’, archival pigment ink museum grade fine-art paper
7 Debbie Locke, ‘Retracing Your Steps’, Motors, Lego NXT programmable brick, wire, plastic, ink, paper
Depending on the level of energy and interest of those who come, and the time left, the study group may also go on to Spike Island after the exhibition to view the exhibitions there. space There is a café at Spike,and it would be a good location for reflection and round up.
For a place on this visit please email

Posted by author: Jane Parry
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