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Deanna Petherbridge

‘Drawing is […] the most democratic and the most apparent of media’
Deanna Petherbridge (born 1939) works with ink, the high wire act of media. There’s no chance to erase which means, as she says in the video accompanying this blogpost, ‘a mistake can ruin a whole drawing’. This introduces a tension in the making process and results in an immediate and visceral body of work that is also – because it needs to be thought about ahead of its making – calm and considered.
On April 22 I will be running a study visit to see a retrospective of Petherbridge’s work at the newly refurbished Whitworth Gallery in Manchester. It’s an ideal opportunity – especially for students currently on any of the Drawing courses offered by the Open College of the Arts – to see the work of an artist who is unashamedly concerned with the potential of representation and illusion and who is not afraid to f grapple with much larger issues.
From the Whitworth website:
This exhibition brings together over 40 works from across her career, including the Manchester Suite a collection of drawings made during her six-month residency at Manchester Art Gallery in 1982. Her studies of the city’s Victorian architecture during its first wave of regeneration in the 1980s led to a consideration of the resonance of history in cities, places and landscapes, a central theme of the exhibition.
As well as presenting us with an opportunity to see work made over Petherbridge’s career, a large three panel work – The Destruction of the City Homs – is also on display. In an article for the drawingmatter website the artist explains the motivation for making this work (which she links to images of the results of the Allied firebombing of Dresden she remembers seeing as a child and which ‘could be Aleppo’). It’s a powerful work that exploits the tension inherent in the making process. All is calm, but all is chaotic.
Bring sketchbooks and notebooks and we can talk about how drawing acts as a research tool for you. I am interested in the following questions, which you might want to think about ahead of the visit in terms of your own work:

  • How might representation be used as a polemical tool and not just as a way of recording things?
  • To what extent does your drawing evolve over its making, our is it all planned before a stroke is made?
  • What is particular about the act drawing? How is it unlike painting, photography, sculpture, and so on?

The following shows are also running, meaning that there’s lots to see other then the Petherbridge show including an exhibition of recently acquired sculptures and one of the acclaimed Artist Rooms and couple of textile-focussed shows.
Join me on April 22 at 1pm at the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester to see this show. I’ll be enjoying a coffee and lunch in the café from noon or thereabouts. It would be good for us all to meet up ahead of going in, but you are, of course, free to stay as long as you like.
The gallery is open from 10am until 5pm. The café is open from 9am if you fancy an early start.
Getting to the Whitworth:
Access Information:
To reserve your place please email or alternatively to request a place on a study visit please click here and complete the form.
For study events that require a ticket, there is a non refundable fee of £10 to pay and your confirmation email will instruct you on how to do this.
Image Credit: Deanna Petherbridge, Continuum City, 1978, Pen and ink on paper, the Whitworth collection (Cropped)

Posted by author: Bryan
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