Drawn to Hastings beach…

011017 - Fishing Boats at Hastings

Fishing Boats at Hastings

You cannot take a trip to the seaside without going to the beach and getting some fresh air. After visiting the Jerwood Gallery, we had a little less than an hour to go before our train left. Jane went for a walk, and I headed for the beach to see what I could find to draw.

Behind the Jerwood Gallery are the tall black huts once used by the fisherman for drying their nets, and numerous other haphazard huts that create a kind of shanty town, a ramshackle fishing village. Beyond this is the beach where the brightly coloured fishing boats are hauled up onto the shingle by rusty old winches, tractors and caterpillars.

I found an old fish crate (not too smelly or fishy!), turned it upside down for my seat, my knees were my easel, and my canvas was my trusty old sketchbook. I used pencils and coloured watercolour crayons for creating the marks.

Having only a few minutes to put something down on paper concentrates the mind. I wanted to draw the fishing boats of course, as they are quite picturesque, but I’m glad I had time to turn the “easel” around and quickly sketch the view behind me with the East Cliff rearing up behind the black huts, with the funicular railway scrambling up it’s face.

011017 - Hastings east cliff

Hastings East Cliff

During my meanderings around the internet, I’ve discovered another artist who roams these shores, and I must admit, I do like his linocuts which in their naivety remind me of my perennial favourite Alfred Wallis. Might be worth a look at: Melvyn Evans.

Egg, Exbury Egg, Uncle Tom cobnuts and all…

081017 - Cobnuts

 081017 - Wood pigeon eggI think autumn is definitely here now that we can go foraging for cobnuts. They have really beautiful seasonal colour (he says giving you a drawing in black and white – how did we survive before colour TV?) with the green only being glimpsed between the yellows, oranges and browns of the foliage.

For some inextricable reason a wood pigeon (at least I think it was a wood pigeon) decided to place an egg bang in the middle of our garden path as well. So pure, and beautiful with such a delicate lustre. Although bit of a stupid bird to 081017 - Exbury Egg Drawinghave dumped it there.

All this back to nature stuff, really brings me on to a real down to earth and great bit of rustic art from Stephen Turner who did a residency living in the small capsule of the Exbury Egg which spent over a year floating on the Beaulieu river. Since then it has gone on tour around various locations in the UK before ending up at it’s last mooring place, outside the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings, where we came across it. I felt privileged in having the chance to climb up the little ladder and enter this Aladdin’s cave full of gems. I don’t know why, but it seemed much bigger on the inside than the outside. Dr. Who has a new Tardis! The egg 081017 - Exbury Eggfeatured a bed, kitchen, shower room, a tiny stove, and a work area. There was also a skylight above and as well as the 2 doorways, it had a peephole when Stephen could spy on the wildlife around him.

As the accompanying exhibition “everything comes from the egg” showed, Stephen Turner really interacted with the environment around him, including making dies, charcoal, clothes and garnering food from the local habitat as much as possible. Really going back to nature and looking at sustainability within this increasing urban world. As well as a larder of food and clothing, there are a lot of packaging items reused to make artwork, and some very small exquisite eggs made out of natural materials found around the egg, including one made of feathers. Wherever the Exbury Egg is the artist also interacted with the community making new collaborative works; this seems to go hand in hand with being at one with the surroundings.

I am waffling on too long. The links to Stephen Turner’s blog posts of his egg residency, and the website of the touring exhibition explain it all much better than I can. So I leave you with them.

Purple kohlrabi, Quentin Blake and me.

011017 - Purple kohlrabi

I thought I would put a big startling image to start with to wake you up! This one is drawn using Conte crayons.

Jane brought this lively looking character back from the farm shop today, and I just had to draw it. The knobbly bits on top looked like numerous goggly eyes, and the light slashes where the leaves had been removed took on mouths, smiling, sneering, smirking. This guy just had to sit for me and have his portrait taken.

In some ways, having drawn it, I realise that it has vague similarities to either Dennis the Menace’s Gnasher from The Beano, or the wonderful:

011017 - Huge head on wheels

featuring in the Quentin Blake exhibition: “The Only Way to Travel” that is currently on at the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings. (Actually, the image above is a bit I copied from the margin of the wonderful quirky ink drawing of the same name and is, relatively speaking, quite small.)

In this exhibition, Quentin has done some really massive brushed drawings (where did he get that size paper!), that cover complete walls of the gallery, which you literally have to walk quite a few paces to get from one end to the other; a journey in itself. The title gives a theme of getting from A to B and allows for the artist to give full rein to his imagination. There are lots of Heath Robinson-esque contraptions or vehicles / animals / planes (or more accurately flying machines) / and birds to transport us around in.

I mentioned Heath Robinson, but perhaps there is a myriad of influences that seems to underlie Blake’s drawings here: Salvador Dali comes to mind with the elongated legs or crutches that appear regularly; there are some very free drawings where ink is dripped and swung over the paper that nod to Jackson Pollock. Perhaps the most dominant feature is a lack of features, especially with the smaller framed drawings with deliciously coloured suns, here we have wasted landscapes where nothing appears to grow, trees are mere stumps, and in one picture we have refugees huddled, wandering aimlessly, looking for a place to call home. Stand up Paul Nash and his World War pictures. I also think that WALL-E from the Disney-Pixar film of the same name would have fitted in well here looking amongst the rubble for signs of life.

Quentin Blake’s long career has given people of all ages great joy, and I hope that the crutches and vulture like birds, that appear in several of these works, is not an omen that things are about to come to a catastrophic end.

011017 - Quentin Blake - The only way to travel