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Karolina Glusiec - Velocity (hand drawn animation, still illustrated)

Karolina Glusiec - Velocity (hand drawn animation, still illustrated)

Drawn to the Jerwood

The Jerwood Drawing Prize is the largest and longest running open drawing prize in the UK; this year it attracted around 3,000 entries, of which 77 were selected for the final exhibition. While its stated aim is ‘promoting excellence and talent in contemporary drawing’, it would be a grave mistake to visit the show expecting a set of well-mannered, regimented, traditional drawings sitting in frames.  HOT reporter Cathy Simpson spent a pleasurable afternoon having her preconceptions turned upside down, and pondering what actually constitutes drawing in contemporary art practice.

Wikipedia defines drawing as “a form of visual art that makes use of any number of drawing instruments to mark a two-dimensional medium”, but the show tells us that that definition has long been left trailing behind.  There ARE pieces which utilise drawing in a traditionally representational way, such as Elizabeth Butterworth’s stunning King Bird of Paradise:

and Tanya Wood’s delicately rendered Pillow.  Carl Randall’s Notes from the Tokyo Underground consists of delicate, spontaneous drawings from direct observation – but many of the pieces take us far beyond the conventional definition.

We are invited to ponder whether the line inscribed by a cutter on a lino block is a drawing, or the calligraphy of a painterly hand, or the marks made by a typewriter, a cut or torn line, or the line and shadow inscribed by the wire unwound from a sketchbook.  Sometimes the negative space is more significant than the drawn. Mixed media pieces are much in evidence, and also the use of drawing as process rather than product.

Margareta Gluzberg’s The Consumystic (Our lady of) consists of a black and white slide of her graphite drawing, the projector placed so that the viewer automatically becomes part of the work of art. Eiko Soga uses the shadows cast by fencing posts and a tree as the framework for her carefully placed paper strips, her digital print capturing an evanescent moment before the shadows move.

Karl Pincis offers us 4 Tent Pegs, carved from balsa wood but covered with gesso and graphite, so shiny that they remind us of virgin graphite sticks.  This is just one of several works that take us beyond and out of the frame;  an intriguing piece by Sam Mould, Finding Venice, consists of a carefully constructed cairn of small rocks, tracing his journey to that city.  I did wonder if this was acknowledging Ruskin’s Stones of Venice, but no mention was made if it was!  We also have a makeshift structure as the mount for the drawing in Robin Jones’ work, while Kerstin Kartscher uses a lampshade as the support for her exquisite drawing.

Bada Song is one of the prize-winners; her pieces Ta-iL 28 and Ta-iL 31 are based on traditional Korean roof tiles, rapidly disappearing in the face of modernisation but allowing ‘a cultural enquiry to develop into a more formal investigation’.

Bada Song:  Ta-iL 28

Bada Song: Ta-iL 28

Arguably the most dramatic pieces in the show are the animations, which clearly embrace drawing. The drawing is a crucial part of the process, but is far from being the final product.

For me, possibly the most outstanding work in this exhibition is Meghana Bisineer’s Light water glass, where animated drawn swimmers escape the confines of a sketchbook and take us on a journey where paint drips, text and water all become part of the drawing – and such deliciously strong drawings, too.  She has taken the most primeval of art forms, combined it with the most modern – in the form of video, with all the editing opportunities that has to offer – and created this symphony.  It is a celebration of the simple and honest, along with the sophistication of modern technology – and glories in all of it.

There are 77 pieces in this show.  Each of them would merit an essay of its own, and most of them raise profound philosophical questions as well as aesthetic experience. According to the New Scientist, the oldest known piece of European drawing is a mark on a cave wall estimated to be 40,800 years old.  It’s good to know that the tradition’s still going strong!

You will have the opportunity to experience the show at the same time as some rather wonderful forthcoming attractions at the Jerwood…

19 December – Drawing Workshop with Jerwood Prize shortlisted artist, Judith Alder

20 December – Christmas Celebrations with the Hastings Philharmonic Choir and…

22 December – Children’s Workshop with CBC Rhyme Rocket Poet, Joseph Coelho.

(See What’s On guide for further details)

The exhibition will be on display until 6 January 2013 at:

Jerwood Gallery, Rock-a-Nore Road, Hastings, TN34 3DW

Opening Times

Tuesday-Friday 11am-4pm
Saturday- Sunday 11am-6pm
Closed Mondays

The gallery will be closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. On Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve the gallery will close at the earlier time of 4pm.

Posted 11:24 Sunday, Dec 16, 2012 In: Visual Arts

Also in: Visual Arts

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