Saturday, 17 September 2011


13TH September-30 October and touring

JVA at Jerwood Space
171 Union Street
London SE10LN

Louisa Fairclough  'Deep Grief'  Watercolour on Gesso Board

Having been invited to a collector’s breakfast preview of this year’s drawing prize with the promise of pastries I couldn’t resist. This year’s drawings have been selected by Iwona Blazwick (Director of Whitechapel Gallery), Tim Marlow (Writer, broadcaster and director of exhibitions at White Cube) and Rachael Whiteread (Artist) and were as interesting as ever. The selection is broad ranging and many artists have 2 or even 3 pieces chosen. Ranging from exquisite representational pencil drawings; such as Joy Gerrard’s Shelter Seeking Crowd, to easy free formed marks; including Louisa Fairclough’s Deep Grief, a highly charged drawing of a tent, a strange ominous shape tethered the ground and video pieces. All sorts of medium are embraced, pencil, biro ink, watercolour, oil, charcoal, collage, fabric, wire, cord and film. As always the exhibition has been beautifully curated, each of the 70 works has room to breathe and embody its own space. This competition attracts a wide range of practitioners from established artists to students.
Joy Gerrard   'Shelter Seeking Crowd, New Orleans'   Pencil

There is a marvellous 5 metre long tour de force by Jessie Brennan; a narrative of local oral histories inspired by local stories and memories that originate along the Lea River Canal. Lottie Jackson-Eeles brings us a joyous concertina sketchbook, mapping the spaces of London journeys the artist has taken. I particularly enjoyed Jessica Killeen and Samuel Taylor’s ‘Interventional Drawing’. This is a funny and engaging video piece. A man is lying on his side on paper and a woman comes and joins him mirroring his shape and leaving a negative space between. Their foreheads touch and their knees touch, an intimacy is established. They both pick up crayons and with a wry smile start to scribble on the page. This is both funny and sexual, lines being made from forehead to forehead down to knee to knee, encountering chest to chest, and crotch to crotch on the way. There is great vigour and energy in their back and forth marks and after time they become tired and the marks are more sporadic, yet still intentional. Like a crazy sexual frenzy ending in soft embraces.
Jessica Killeen & Samuel Taylor  'Interventioal Drawing'  Video Performance

However the piece that caught my eye and which I would have been tempted to buy, had it been for sale was a small video projection ‘Sketch’ by Nicki Rolls. This is a beautifully executed 1 min film of a street scene which is projected onto a small sketch book and slightly beyond onto the wall. Very little happens, a person walking, a van driving past. As the book is open at an angle the van travels round the book off the page and then seems to reappear from under the book and onto the wall. It is very satisfying in its simplicity.

Nicky Rolls  'Sketch'  Video Projection/Sketch Book

I was delighted to bump into Anita Taylor who is the Director of the Drawing Prize, and was over from Australia, where she is currently Director of Sydney’s National Art School. She is very passionate about drawing and believes in the vital role of drawing in contemporary art practice.

Later that evening the prizes were announced: £6000 was awarded to Gary Lawrence for ‘Homage to Anonymous’, ballpoint on discarded posters.

£3000 to Jessie Brennan for ‘The Cut’ and student prizes of £1000 to Kristian Fletcher and to my great joy to Nicki Rolls.

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