Gemma Thompson

The Drawing Year 2019

BA Fine Art, Goldsmiths

Whilst studying on The Drawing Year I have had the opportunity to dedicate myself to drawing - to take apart everything I thought I knew about drawing and to piece it back together again. A chance to fail, layer, transpose marks, to think of a flat surface as I could a physical empty space in which to play a sound, an echo of the sound, repeating, layering. In trying to step away from sound and creating music I have been led back to it, but I feel that now I am a step closer to understanding what an obsession with sound means to me. 

Gemma Thompson student story

Most importantly, to learn to draw from observation has forced me not to just look, but to listen and to feel my surroundings in a new way. This is important to me because, for a fleeting moment I feel that anything can be possible - that there is a connection with something that can traverse more than one form - sound, graphite, dust, sculpture? It is not a case of visualising sound, but that the beginning may be sound and the end may be visual in one form or another.

I am incredibly grateful to have studied on The Drawing Year - it has renewed my focus and I have formed lifelong friendships. Previous to joining the Royal Drawing School I had focussed on music as a professional musician; I was drawn into music after completing a BA Fine Art at Goldsmiths and graduating in 2008. 


I feel that my approach to drawing is very similar to that of writing music - considering the physicality of playing an instrument or making a mark. I found that many of the tutors taught using a language that could easily be transcribed to writing music and discovered that there are so many similarities and mysteries. The tutors who most affected my approach are Dilip Sur and his Monday Life Drawing class which I discovered was the best way to begin a week of drawing, Mark Cazalet and Thomas Newbolt teaching William Blake’s London: Drawing and Imagination and Etching with Maggie Jennings. Also, the Gardens and Greenhouses class has opened up many possibilities for me quite unexpectedly - I found an instinctive approach that I will continue to explore this upcoming year.

I am currently sharing a studio space in London with my fellow alumni David Gardner and plan to continue using the print room and developing new ideas alongside working on music and sound once again.