Christine Mills

The Drawing Year 2021
BA Textile Art, Goldsmiths 

Christine drawing sheep

I am a mature conceptual artist from Wales. My medium is usually dictated by my ideas and much of my work is to do with contemporary Welsh life; living on a Welsh hill sheep farm I often use wool as a medium, and work in installation form. This could include film, drawing, a series of mixed media works that speak to each other. Whatever the outcome, drawing is a fundamental part of this entire process.  

I explore life through my work; responding through drawing is my inquisitive investigation in this marvellous visual language that is international, and so inclusive to communicate with. It keeps me sharp, but also on a journey, and I never know where it will take me. That’s the exciting bit!  

Christine Mills

On my BA at Goldsmiths a few decades back, I seemed to spend most of my time drawing, spending many an afternoon in a London gallery where the masters inspired me, and drawing was the way I responded. That is where I felt my growth took place as a young artist. On my BA, I did not feel that I needed to work further from this process of drawing but it was necessary to complete the course. It’s wonderful to have been on The Drawing Year to reverse this thinking.   

The most important thing I have learned during the year is the importance of wellbeing, to take steps to be in a good place, and to feel relaxed in order to connect. Every work is an entirely new beginning: I let the subject draw me in, and being in the moment and allowing my response to take me on a new journey is thrilling. 

Christine Mills drawing

I have taken the Drawing at the National Gallery course four times since I started attending courses at Royal Drawing School. Spending time in front of a painting in the National seems to help me find beauty, poetry and rhythm from within. Responding to these works also strengthens one’s technical skills of drawing, just like practicing scales if you’re a musician or stretches if you’re a dancer. It develops imagery and ideas for my own contemporary take on new work. I have developed much of my visual bank from my classes at the National, which are then used and re-interpreted in my own work.  

Christine Mills

During these unusual times, the Royal Drawing School were impressive. All measures concerning safety were taken very seriously, but the School seemed to find ways of moving forward in a swift manner. In the early days of lockdown, tutors were immediately trained to teach online and students were given support from the office on technical issues. Then off we went online to places like the National Gallery, but this time, we could respond to works with huge sloppy ink brushes at home, something the gallery staff would not welcome in real life! Some galleries and museums have amazing websites which I would never have thought of working from before, allowing us to zoom in and really explore the art in our own time. This practice has continued when necessary, and although it can’t replace in-person gallery visits, it is another valuable drawing resource. I’ve had the opportunity to draw from film in front of my log fire on Friday nights with the best snacks around me! And I’ve also met artists from all around the world through the online courses.   

Christine drawing in her studio

The School sends out alumni newsletters which not only include exhibitions of previous students for us to see, but also teaching opportunities and residency programmes to apply for. We have the chance to show in three exhibitions at the end of the year, which is fantastic. When I finish The Drawing Year I will be continuing my other passion of Gallery Education work, where I will return refreshed to deliver new ideas on drawing for communities in Wales and beyond. 

The Drawing Year is like one big family, whatever your age or background. We are always asking each other to respond to our latest works. Being in a group of hard working, inspiring, talented students for an entire year has given me a great sense of community, and I have valued this greatly, especially coming from a rural area. I am certain the online developments, group Whatsapps and experiences will allow for this continuation.  

This has been an amazing year of healthy creative growth; such a fruitful year of my life, even through lockdown!