Linda Scott, Senior Lecturer on BA(Hons) Illustration, has recently returned from Northern Portugal, where for the fourth year running she has had a paper accepted by CONFIA, an Illustration and Animation Conference hosted by the University IPCA. Here she talks about the importance of her continued research in Illustration to her teaching of Falmouth’s undergraduates.
‘CONFIA is unique in being one of the few conferences of its kind dedicated to the subject area of illustration. The range of themes within the broader subject, however, is eclectic, and researchers present topics that range from social, political and cultural themes to the more technical and methodological aspects of illustration and animation.
The research I have undertaken over recent years has been fundamental in deepening my appreciation of and understanding of the important role illustration has in the communication and dissemination of challenging themes. Participating in international conferences has exposed me to a range of perspectives and Illustration practices previously unconsidered and the knowledge acquired is invaluable within my teaching practice, which covers both studio based teaching and theoretical dissertation supervision. Sharing my evolving knowledge of the subject with students has lead to stimulating conversations and often reciprocal sharing of books about challenging themes, which currently is an area many students are reflecting upon.
My own research pathway is currently driven by political, ethical, environmental and philosophical analyses of illustration, from historical and current perspectives. In particular I have explored the role that illustration and arts activism might play within the field of bird conservation. My starting point for that was a trip I made to the hunting grounds of Malta with a group of artists, illustrators, musicians and film makers headed by documentary maker Ceri Levy; I had previously participated in a group exhibition collective known as ‘Ghosts Of Gone Birds‘, which showed its first exhibition in the Rochelle Gallery in London.
In recent years, I have been drawn time and again to uses of Illustration as a vehicle for powerfully communicating challenging themes. My presentations at CONFIA over the past four years have included themes embracing climate change, the use of illustrated picture books to teach philosophy and critical thinking skills to primary aged children and in July 2018, my presentation focused on the challenging themes of Colonialism and Imperialism within illustrated books, as viewed through a ‘post colonial‘ lens.
In November 2017 I travelled to Nancy, France to make a presentation at ‘Illustrating Identyties‘, a conference hosted by the University and conceived of with founding members of The Journal Of Illustration, an important peer reviewed publication. The theme of this presentation was about challenging themes within children’s picture books and included subjects such as death, domestic violence, feminism and environmentalism.
My own exploration of the importance of the role Illustration plays in illuminating challenging concepts, ensures I can encourage my students to continue to deepen their own relationship to the practice of illustration and the understanding that it can be a powerful tool for social , political and cultural change’.
Artist, drawing researcher and lecturer in BA(Hons) Drawing Dr Joe Graham, and some of his Falmouth School of Art students and alumni, presented papers and workshops at The Embodied Experience of Drawing event at The Drawing Symposium, Plymouth.
The event responded to the increasing proportion of artists in the South West working in performative drawing practice. It gathered contributors, to acknowledge and interrogate this movement and to discuss ideas around the future of drawing research, philosophy and practice.
Dr Joe Graham discussed his paper The Utility of Drawing: Drawn and Withdrawn. “This paper sketches a nascent ontology of drawing, one that uses Heidegger to explore the idea that drawing is a fundamentally useful type of thing for those who draw. Within this understanding however, the utility of drawing appears withdrawn, so to speak. It requires being ‘drawn out’ (freed) when drawings are viewed for some purpose – as pictures, diagrams, maps, plans or other forms intended for use.”
Kayleigh Jayne Harris, a recent graduate from BA(Hons) Drawing at Falmouth University, primarily focused on the identity of line within contemporary drawing practices. Her paper Drawing line through performance: does the drawing live as an immaterial trace, a material document, or both, through the experience of line? explored whether performative acts be identified as a form of drawing, through the acknowledgement and experience of the lines generated during and by gesture.
Bhuvaneshvari Pinto a current student of BA(Hons) Drawing and Ralph Nel (Alumni) presented a joint workshop Drawing as a Tool in Cultivating Awareness – A Workshop in Observational Drawing. The workshop explored the idea that observational drawing nurtures mental stillness and sharpens our awareness of ourselves and our surroundings.
Video with kind permission of Stuart Bewsey
Private View and End of year show – All welcome to the Private View of the end of year show: 6-9pm on Tuesday 4 September, Tannachie Garden Studios, Falmouth Campus, Woodlane, Falmouth, TR11 4RH. The show then runs from Wednesday 5 to Sunday 9 September, 10am–5pm.
Performance Event – There will also be a special performance event on Thursday 6 September, 7-11pm at the Fish Factory Art Space, Commercial Road, Penryn, TR10 8AG. From the weird to the lyrical, the playful to the polemical; this year’s graduating MA Illustration students hold a night of performance, storytelling and song to accompany their end of year show; NEXUS. The evening also launches an exhibition of the artists’ manifestos, on show throughout the following week. – click here for the Fish Factory’s Facebook event.
The Falmouth School of Art Purchase Prize is an occasional award made during our degree shows, whereby the School purchases an artwork from a graduating student in recognition of their achievement and the strength of their work, and in support of their continued practice. This year we are delighted to have awarded a Purchase Prize to Robin French, who has just graduated from BA(Hons) Fine Art, for his painting, Kitchen, early spring. We asked Robin if he’d like to tell us a little about the painting, and about his future plans…
“I’m very proud to have been awarded the Falmouth School of Art Purchase Prize. It is so encouraging to sell work from the show – it has really spurred me on.
My painting, Kitchen, early spring, is important to me. I shouldn’t like to tie it down to a particular narrative but perhaps I can explain my own personal ideas behind it. The figure is my mother, crouched down to hug her dog. In the room there is a stove. The bowls and mugs are pottery she has made herself. The plants are from the garden she has carefully grown. it’s not so much a portrait of my mother. I wanted more to tap into the soul of the house she has made.
I like to use negative space, leaving large areas of the canvas unpainted. I don’t want the painting to feel suffocated in it’s meaning or appearance. If I’m successful, hopefully the viewer can share certain feelings or understandings that I’ve been working through. This could be very subtle and hard to put into words. I think successful figurative paintings have this unique ability. It’s my challenge to achieve this.
For the future, I’m trying to maximise the time I can spend painting. I’m planning a motorcycle trip where I hop between different artist residencies. At the same time, I’m hoping to find somewhere on the continent where I can rent a studio on a more long term basis.”
BA(Hons) Illustration student Helen Trevaskis was among the organisers of StreetDraw24, a drawing initiative to raise awareness and money for homeless charity St. Petroc’s. So far, over £500 has been raised through donations. You can hear Helen talking to SourceFM the day after the event (Helen is introduced at 12:50)
Following the pilot event, Helen shares 24 things that this reportage fundraiser taught her and her fellow drawers about life in Falmouth, about staying up drawing for 24 hours, and about trying to do something good in the world through art.
- A town is not one place. Using Falmouth as a reportage location across 24 hours showed us other sides of the town we live in…From the early morning workers busy while most of us are tucked up in bed, to the fitness fanatics using Jacob’s Ladder as their personal gym, to the late night car racers partying at Pendennis Point – the town has many sides.
- Not sleeping sends you a bit weird. During the 24 hours some drawers went from being intensely focused to barely able to speak – let alone draw – to practically hysterical with laughter at the smallest thing, or continually hungry. Fascinating what sleep deprivation does to you!
- Make it fun. Along the long walk from The Moor to Falmouth Cemetery via Pendennis, we played drawing games to get our energy up as midnight came and went. The results were not artistic masterpieces (or even a record of where we were, given we could barely see) but were one of the most memorable bits of the night.
- Stay safe. Even though we live in a safe town, we ensured no one drew alone at night, and we kept touch with each other via a Messenger group.
- Talk to people. During the 24 hours many interesting interactions occurred. One group, drawing on a housing estate, talked to an elderly couple who then fed them fruit. Another got #StreetDraw24 followed on Instagram by a creative agency in London after chatting to its founder. Many more revealed how many people are themselves artists in this town. Embrace such interactions – it’s one of the joys of location drawing.
- Start. Many of us were not sure what to draw when we first got out on the street despite lots of great advice from reportage supremo Anna Cattermole’s blog, written for us in the run up to #StreetDraw24 (sorry Anna!). While it can be good to have a plan perhaps what’s more important is getting going, because once you do, drawing tends to have its own momentum.
- Mix it up. Bringing variety into how you draw not just what you draw can help give you and your work energy, particularly as the hours tick by.
- Be respectful. There was a point at about 1am Friday where five of us were drawing a camper van parked at Gyllygvase Beach, and realised someone was probably asleep inside! As we quietly snuck off, we imagined how weird it would have been for the occupants to find us all there, reminding us it’s important to be respectful in choosing our locations.
- Keep repeating your message. #Streetdraw24 is designed to raise awareness about the problem of street homelessness in Cornwall, but it’s very easy for people to miss the point. So don’t be shy about repeating the why of what you’re doing, to get it across effectively, and then repeating it again.
- Make it social. While drawing in pairs or a group is not something illustrators and artists normally do, even the least extrovert among us got lots out of drawing on location together.
- Dogs are of the day cats of the night. This is just true.
- Keep going. Whether you’re on location for four hours or 12 or 24, you’re not going to be in the mood the whole time and not everything you produce will be great; but we definitely saw work evolve across the 24 hours, because we just kept going.
- Be shamelessly opportunist. Telling everyone you meet what you’re up to before, during and after an event like this is really valuable. Not just because they might want to get involved, but also because the story of what you’re doing is almost as important as the thing itself, and the more you tell it the better it will get.
- Drawing from observation matters. If you’re involved in the arts, you should draw, because drawing is less about drawings and more about looking at, engaging with and absorbing what’s around you – a core artistic skill.
- Collaboration is an important creative skill. This time around there were only a few people from beyond the BA Illustration course involved in StreetDraw24. It’s something we’ll shake up next time, because collaborating brings new ideas, perspectives and opportunities.
- Wet wipes are your friend. Whether you’re using messy charcoal, find there are no open public toilets near where you’re drawing, or you’ve taken food to eat and are worried about where your hands have been; you’re going to need wet wipes during an event like this.
- Be easy-going. This was a pilot, so for us it was important to have as few rules as possible, so people could invent what worked for them and we could learn.
- Most people are really nice. They are. So talk to them.
- Getting the money bit right is hard. #StreetDraw24 was designed as a fundraiser and fundraising is difficult but an event idea isn’t a good one if it doesn’t make money.
- “The more you look the more you see”. So true.
- Laughing helps warms you up. Also true but you still need a coat, thick socks and a hat if you’re out all night.
- There are lots of ways to take part. While a small band of drawers took to the streets last week, many other people sent messages of support, donated to St Petroc’s, and ‘liked’ or commented on the images we posted. To us they were all part of the #StreetDraw24 team.
- Feel lucky. There are many things those of us with homes to go to each night take for granted – like having a toilet when and where you want one. It’s important to remember this is not everyone’s reality and to remember how lucky we are.
- Be ambitious. Next up will be an exhibition of #StreetDraw24 work – exhibition space kindly donated by the Poly– in early October. But we’ve bigger plans, too, so watch this space…
For 24 hours starting at noon on 23 August, a small band of students and other locals will be drawing from the streets of Falmouth to raise awareness of Cornwall’s homelessness problem, as part of the first ever StreetDraw24. Here, one of the organisers, BA(Hons) Illustration student Helen Trevaskis, talks about the motivation and intention for the initiative…
StreetDraw24: How can art be a force for good?
‘While beyond the Tamar, Cornwall may conjure up thoughts of pasties and clotted cream, happy childhood holidays and Poldark’s semi-clad antics on horseback along a never-ending coastline, anyone who spends proper time here knows that parts of the county face many and serious social problems. One of these is homelessness, with some reports highlighting an increase of 52% in rough sleeping in the county between 2009 and 2016. While the arts may not seem an obvious place to look to for ways to bring focus onto this problem, that’s exactly what StreetDraw24 wants to do.
How? Well, the idea is simple. Over a 24 hour period, ending at noon on the 24th of the month, draw from the streets of your town, post images to social media using the tag #streetdraw24 and share a link for donations to a relevant homelessness charity. After the event, use the best 24 images – one for each hour of the day – to promote the issue of homelessness and fundraise further. Then…learn, grow, repeat!
This will be the first ever StreetDraw24 and has been organised by first year students from Falmouth’s BA(Hons) Illustration keen to feel connected to and active in the community they now live in. With an emphasis on learning by doing on a small scale, they’ve been promoting the event on Facebook and raising funds for St Petroc’s Society – a Truro based charity supporting the single homeless. Along the way advice on location based drawing, ‘reportage’, has been shared from Falmouth students and tutors alongside information on Cornwall’s homelessness problem.
Some of those taking part in the event will draw from the streets for the whole 24 hours to bring attention to the sad reality that for some the streets are their home 24/7. So, if you see a damp cold looking person drawing from the streets of Falmouth at the end of next week go and talk to them – they’ll love to share what they’re doing! Or even better – take part by checking out the StreetDraw24 Facebook page, donating to St Petroc’s Society or offering ideas for how to make the impact of this initiative even bigger’.
This year Acts Re-Acts, at Wimbledon College of Art, took the form of an intensive two-day laboratory of selected performances, exploring the borderzone between Theatre and Fine Art.
Other contributors included: Eleanor Bowen & Jane Bailey, Henry Bradley, Greig Burgoyne, Angela Hodgson-Teall & Miles Coote, Richard Layzell & Bruce Barber, Jozefina Komporaly & ZU-UK & guests, Robert Luzar, Melanie Menard, Lucy O’Donnell, Ken Wilder & Aaron McPeake, Alex Reuben, Lois Rowe & The Haptic Collective, Aminder Virdee.
Falmouth School of Art lecturer Joe Graham is ‘in conversation’ with artist Lucy O’Donnell, March 2018.