I decided to write this post before and after I visited the Jerwood Drawing Prize, so that I could find out as much about it before I went and then write about my thoughts on it after my visit.
Firstly, the Jerwood Drawing Prize is about contemporary drawing. Every year this prize challenges our perception of what constitutes drawing with mediums stretching from the traditional pencil to sound pieces and video works. ” To use drawing as a vital means of creativity and as a means to explore and understand the world anew. The award winners deploy drawing in various forms to both document and to question our perceptions.” Professor Anita Taylor, Director of the Jerwood Drawing Prize project.
The first prize of £8000 went to Tom Harrison (b.1982) for his delicate pencil drawing entitled From Andrew’s Flat, Singapore, which depicts a view of the city.
It is a nice enough drawing, difficult to see online and quite why it has won first prize is a bit of a mystery. I have looked up some of the reviews and all are very positive, describing it as a delicate pencil drawing, atmospheric and poetic. It is also an actual drawing as we understand in the traditional sense, pencil on paper, unlike the sound piece by Alison Carlier that won first prize last year. A description of this is in my previous blog. Here is a quote from Tom ‘“My initial pull for the drawing was seeing all of this from an elevated position,” explained Tom; “an abstract pattern of the buildings jostling for space with the jungle becoming even more apparent.”
You can listen to the Jerwood Drawing Prize 2015 Artists’ Floor Talk on SoundCloud but it is very long and a bit frustrating when you can’t see the actual pieces. I was intrigued by the second prize winner Elisa Alaluusua, for her 7 minute video drawing Unconditional Line, depicting the take-off and landing of a flight. She talked about how a video is very much like composing a drawing, every mark or change works in a relation to the marks around it, the whole composition capturing time in the process. Having good footage of film is rather like having a good quality drawing on which to base your finished piece. Like drawings from sketchbooks it seems that Alaluusua uses her editing skills to make her finished video as someone would use their drawings and sketches alongside their painting skills to create a finished picture. I could be wrong but this is how I understood it when I listened to her talking on the Floor Talk and it helped.
Two Student Awards of £2,000 each are awarded to Bryan Eccleshall (b.1965) and Lois Langmead (b.1992).
The description of Eccleshall’s drawing is taken from his blog: ‘The piece reproduced here is a redrawing of a photograph, taken by me, of the Joseph Beuys sculpture that was the centrepoint of last year’s ArtSheffield event: Wirtschaftswerte (Economic Values, in English.) It’s made in pencil on sixteen paper panels that are assembled to make a compound square drawing about one metre across.’
Here is an image of the original installation Wirtschaftswerte (Economic Values) 1980 by Joseph Beuys and a description about it from the Tate gallery.
I am very intrigued by the piece from Lois Langmead Pelvis and happy to see that something in textiles has been recognised as a drawing medium. It has been very difficult to find any information about the piece or this person, just something from another blog ‘Irenebrination’ – This piece was created building up many layers of machine stitching onto water soluble fabric. The latter was then washed away when the structure was able to hold itself, so that a form that was entirely made of thread remained.
So, now I have been to the show. It was better than I had expected, very quiet (I was the only person there) and a good variety of ‘drawings’.
I was ‘drawn’ to some:
Gerry Davies Murmuring Deep Ink on Paper.
Lee John Phillips The shed Project: Volume 1 Ink in sketchbook.
A beautifully illustrated sketchbook of every single object in his late grandfather’s tool shed. So far he’s logged over 4000 objects – rows of screws, nuts, cellophane packets, bottles of glue – out of an estimated total of 80 000.
Some ‘drawings’ made me smile:
Daniel Crawshaw Moonshine Nail on found object – bit annoying this one as I used to have an old tattered baking tray that I kept for ages as I could see 2 dancers in the scratches and scuff marks. What a pity I threw it away, I should have entered it in for the prize. This piece is sold.
Some of the drawings left me cold:
The drawings in the foyer were very good, very big and the biro drawing by Gary Lawrence was remarkable:
Santorini Polaroid Biro on printing photo type paper 198cm x 213cm.
Lawrence won the Jerwood Prize in 2013 and this years piece is enormous, based on a Polaroid photo taken by someone on a holiday in Greece.
Robert Battams Space for redevelopment Handcut Paper 110 x155cm
Juliette Losq Nexus Ink and Watercolout on paper 150 x 131 cm
If you decide to go and see the exhibition which finishes October 25th, I would recommend buying the catalogue (£10/£8 students but the exhibition is free). There is a brief description of each artist and their work, biographies at the back with an introduction and a short piece on the Selection Panel Perspectives at the front.
There is also an interesting article from the Drawing Research Network which is worth a read before you visit.
These are just a few examples of what is on show and my conclusion is I really enjoyed the exhibition. If you go you need to keep an open mind. There will always be works in an exhibition that are not agreeable but it is too easy to be dismissive. It is about artists seeking to question and test the limits of draughtsmanship beyond line or mark making and this year the judges were presented with a wide and imaginative range of video entries, sculptural drawings, photographic reworkings, and pieces incorporating found objects, alongside the traditional media of graphite and pen.
Dexter Dalwood, one of this years judges offers some insight to the selection process – “I wanted to look for drawings that had energy and a sense of application – whether they were working drawings or drawings which have a singularity in purpose, an actual work on paper, or a work that develops the idea of drawing as an activity in itself.”
To understand it you need to study it and a substantial proportion of the works shortlisted for exhibition this year are, by students.