Nathalie Hollis

The Drawing Year 2020

BA Illustration, Camberwell (UAL)

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My work is influenced by elements of theatre, dance, performance and film as well as an interest in the body in motion as a language in itself. I am fixated with capturing movement and the attempt to capture something fleeting on the page, I am also interested in the relationship between drawing and movement and how drawing can become a performative act.

I studied BA Illustration at Camberwell which I really enjoyed however I wasn't able to focus on drawing, the emphasis was on thinking conceptually. Coming from an Illustration background, where you are given briefs to work from, was very instilled in me for a while after graduating, so I have enjoyed letting that go and approaching my work in a more expansive and open-ended way. I think The Drawing Year really reinforces the importance of drawing as a foundation for your work to build on, both as a starting point and also as an end in itself.

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Life Drawing with Dilip Sur was one of my favourite courses; it was fast and exciting working from a model doing quick poses for a whole day. I think I gained a lot of confidence during those classes and my mark making and line became more sensitive. Local Landscapes, where we repeatedly visited a street scene in Shoreditch and gathered sketches, taking them back to the school to develop, made me really push through what sometimes felt like subject matter I wasn't drawn to and resulted in interesting new territory in my work. Drawing at The National Gallery was also a really amazing course and I actually did this one three times! It was the first course I took, and I remember the tutor, Ann Dowker, telling me that you are not being taught to draw but rather being taught how to look, this is something that has stayed in my mind.


One of the amazing things The Drawing Year does for you is push you in lots of directions, through an intensive mixture of classes and lots and lots of drawing. This can feel a bit overwhelming at first but what I think it does is open you up many ways of looking and then you start to build up your practice and return to parts of it that were there before, but in a strengthened and more thoughtful way. One of the most important things I have learned, and am still putting in to practice, is to trust your gut instincts and harness an awareness of what you are doing. I’ve learned to pay attention to what you are drawn to, rather than seeking out a subject matter.

This year lots of drawing outside and at home has instilled this in me and it has been a really important part to the year; I’ve enjoyed the ritual of visiting one place many times then taking sketches back to the studio to work from. I have developed observational sketches into more realised and thought-out works, which is something I struggled with before the course.


A huge part of my learning has come not only from the incredible teachers on the course but also from the conversations I've had with the rest of the cohort, it is a really unique opportunity to be a part of a community who are all passionate about drawing yet have their own ideas and thoughts on what drawing is and why it is important to them. I feel really lucky to have been a part of a year which was already a close group before the pandemic, I think we managed to maintain this even when we were all working from home; we did drawing from film sessions on Zoom and even sent drawing postcards to each other. It was also a real blessing to be able to use Space Studios throughout the lockdowns - both to have a place to work but also to be able to work alongside others on the course and continue conversations about our work and support each other.

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The school were unbelievably supportive from the start of the pandemic, we were all individually checked in on and offered support and advice we might need. They went above and beyond my expectations offering online courses very quickly and managed to seamlessly make this feel as close to our previous classes in school as possible. 

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I am really happy to have just started the Young Artists tutor trainee year with the School and I am really enjoying gaining new skills and confidence, but I am also finding it is informing my own practice and a clarifying my experience of The Drawing Year. After the course finishes, I have plans to collaborate with a friend from the course on a project and I would also really like to do like to do a residency abroad at some point in the next year. I’m really looking forward to continuing to explore my practice and I will take a period of time to reflect and digest what I have learnt this year, I am also in the process of looking for a new studio with friends from the course which I am very excited for.