The Drawing Year 2020
BA Illustration, Camberwell (UAL)
I heard about the Royal Drawing School from a past student whose work I admired; it was fun, fluid and observed. So, I enrolled on a public course at the School where I just went wild with colours, trying to depict the life model. I was encouraged and wanted to progress and enjoyed using fast marks. The tutor, Martin Shortis, was so engaging and helpful. I started developing a portfolio to apply and was ecstatic to be offered a place. On the first week of the course, there was a class where we were drawing around Shoreditch. I sat in a cafe drawing a glass olive oil bottle with a flower in it, I remember looking at it, excited at what I could see - all the detail of the reflections, the distorted stem and the smooth shape of the bottle. This was a eureka moment for me - I couldn’t yet capture what I could see, but I could see it!
Drawing from Film
My practice is primarily drawing from life and imagination, and somewhere in between I use photos. I like drawing quick, I like drawing slow - both hold a different energy. I live in the drawing, experimenting and seeing where the drawing takes me, and finding meaning or metaphors for how I’m feeling or bringing me closer to a moment. Drawing is very important to me like an external diary I am proud of.
During my time on The Drawing Year I have learnt the importance of self-discipline. I have learned to look, really look; looking at a life model seven hours a day for thirty weeks of a year you have to learn to find a way to connect to the subject and express yourself through the model. I have loved being part of the School, it quickly felt like a group with a shared will to draw, passionate about exploring life through line and finding the spark in the everyday.
The etching room (when it was open at the start of the year) was amazing place to spend time on one drawing over a period of weeks, with all the facilities and charisma of the tutors which made it very enjoyable. The tuition really makes the school – I have so many favourite tutors, each with their own stance and experiences. They were so encouraging and really pushed us. The Body Clothed with Susan Wilson was one of my favourite courses; drawing the folds in the materials, how it drapes, is something I would have skipped over, and maybe not even seen before doing the course.
Far more is done in a day on The Drawing Year than on my BA course - it’s like three years squeezed into one. People are more awake and members of the public share the same courses so drawing holds us all together. The School is serious and passionate about everyone’s progress, more intense and more in tune with the individual. I’m dyslexic and the burden of the writing was gratefully done away with but the weekly lectures from a different artist each week, were brilliant. Over lockdown there was one in particular when I was literally on the edge of my seat throughout - this was with Enrique Martinez Celaya, a poet, scientist and painter. I found his work truly emotional and strong. It was amazing to continue to get these lectures online throughout lockdown.
Don't get infected
The School handled the mayhem of the pandemic smoothly and successfully. In under a month or so all classes were online along with tutorials, simple check-ins and group meetings to see how we were all coping, keeping our morale up during absolute uncertainty. There also was, and still is, a Drawing Year WhatsApp group that made us all feel involved and connected – a place that we can share invitations to shows and exhibitions.
I have been in London 10 years, but the last year has been the highlight! I think I’m ready to move out of London and live by the sea in Kent, and get a studio in Margate, ideally. I would like at a later date to teach, but for now would like to carry on exhibiting and developing my practice, using what I have been learned this year. We are going to have a show at Christie's, and at the School’s gallery in Shoreditch - both remarkable places to get our work seen. I’m also hopeful that opportunities to apply for the School’s residencies will open up after lockdown.
This year my drawing has improved, and my appreciation and awareness of other people’s art has improved too. It’s been a phenomenal year. Not forgetting it’s a scholarship programme, it's shocking how much you are given once offered a place. Even if you do normally draw a lot, you’ll be drawing a lot more here!