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THE HIDDEN ART OF DRAWING – REVEALED: JADA 2018

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Artists fill notebooks with drawings using a range of mark-making methods from burnt sticks (charcoal), lead and coloured pencils to ink pens and colour washes. These can be renderings that replicate the subject in ways that a camera might. They can be of details and juxtapositions of elements. Or they can be quick-made glimpses full of emotion and movement that come not so much from the subject itself but rather from the artist’s response to the inspiration created by what they witness.

Later in the artmaking process the artist retrieves these references and in the studio space with the grander media of canvas, metal or expanses of paper the drawing’s trace is carefully made and through the application of pigments applied by brush and palette knife or engraved, etched, inked and pressed. Here a ‘real’ artwork is made. Yet, underneath the final artwork the reference drawing resides – hidden.

 

The secret hidden ‘art’ of the artist’s drawing has for 30 years been the focus of the biennial Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Award (JADA) at the Grafton Regional Gallery (GRG). In this award the drawing is revered not as an aide-mémoire for the artist’s later work but rather as the product of a deliberate creative and expressive artmaking activity.

 

The gallery has as it’s rationale for JADA and the GRG Drawing Collection the following statements:

The award seeks to encourage and promote innovation and excellence and plays a vital role in fostering Australian drawing practice.

The … collection exemplifies the developments and changing parameters of contemporary drawing since 1988. The collection explores the way that drawing resonates as a contemporary medium, demonstrating the relevance and strength of drawing. Works in the collection offer a varied and extensive overview of drawing ranging from highly resolved articulate works to spontaneous expressive works that are mostly retained on the conventional support of paper.

… the collection has attractively developed through the tastes, opinions and approaches of the various judges into a collection that is compelling, thought provoking, innovative, exuberant, and diverse.

 

JADA 2018 Grafton Regional Gallery installation

For those interested in artists in their practice of drawing a visit to the GRG will reveal all. In 2018 fifty-five artworks were selected from 498 entries by a pre-selection panel of suitably qualified persons. The selection of the major JADA award as well as acquisitions for the gallery’s drawing collection were adjudicated by Anne Ryan, Curator of Drawing, Prints and Watercolours from the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

 

What is surprising in the JADA selection is the way in which the techniques and media of drawing the can lead to such a diverse and stimulating variety of artworks. There are works that:

  • Emulate photographs in their fine detail and tonal rendition
  • Are exquisite in the draughtsmanship expressed
  • Show the artist’s use of the drawing to ‘find the edge’ and give shape and form to the subject
  • The emergent use of computer software, digital output, and digital media animation screen presented time-based artworks
  • Express the textural nature of the drawing media on the receiving surface
  • The passing of time in a stilled framed work
  • Explore caricatures
  • Play with simple gestural lines and equally simple ideas

The winner of the $30k 2018 JADA award was Todd Fuller, a Sydney based artist with his work titled Ode to Clarence as described in the Gallery’s website as: a hand drawn and painted animation, created during a residency at Grafton Regional Art Gallery.

The work deals with the current issues in Grafton associated with the building of a new bridge connecting the city with the highway. Through a digitally presented narrative relating to the disruption to the community caused by the terraforming, street changes and house demolitions caused by the bridge building. The work is created as a continuous drawing in parts.

 

 

Some may question how this work is classified as a ‘drawing’ as we usually encounter a drawing as a static artwork in a notebook, on paper or in a frame. As such time-based digital media presentations and other such works present a challenge to the traditional paradigm. These digital media ‘drawings’ may be documentation of drawing projects or of performances commenting on the concept of drawing. As we know there is a significant history of animated drawings presented as moving picture films. It should also be acknowledged that documentation by video might also make visible a drawing work in transformation. Though it might be asked how do these works ‘fit’ with the term ‘drawing’? And when does a drawing cease being a ‘drawing’ and become a work in the discipline of animation or digital media?

Interestingly Fuller’s drawing work uses a technique similar to that used by the artist Blu in his famous street graffiti video documentary MUTO. Blu describes his work as:a seven minute animated mural.

Thoughts such as these will no doubt occupy the minds of many visitors to the JADA exhibition as it travels around the eastern seaboard over the next two years. Whatever the outcome for such thoughts ultimately JADA has provided an important biennial review and space for critical commentary and reflection on the discipline and has stimulated this enquiry. The award also reveals and makes visible the work of artists, it shares their stories and ideas through the discipline of drawing – perhaps the oldest of all human creative endeavours.

 

Dr Doug Spowart

With thanks to Dr Cooper for editorial support

 

JADA 2018 Grafton Regional Gallery installation

 

FOOTNOTE:

Other works acquired for the Grafton Regional Gallery Collection with their $10k allocation are:

  • David Fairbairn Portrait of T.J.K No 1, 
  • Kedal Gear Haze, 
  • Nicci Haynes Drawing Dancing (an animation),
  • Noel McKenna Silent Assassin and
  • Claire Primrose Assembled Landscape 3.

 

An illustrated catalogue of the JADA entries can be downloaded here: 2018_JADA_Finalists_Catalogue

Apart from the Gallery exhibition in late 2018 the JADA will tour regional galleries over the next two years to the following venues; Manning Regional Gallery, Hervey Bay Regional Gallery, University of the Sunshine Coast Gallery, Griffith Regional Art Gallery, Latrobe Regional Gallery and the Tamworth Regional Gallery.

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Text ©2018 Doug Spowart  Photographs of gallery ©2018 Doug Spowart. Copyright of artworks is retained by the artist
Many artworks have been photographed to show the nature of the framing and matting of the work.

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DRAWING @ 2014 Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Award

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Vicky disappearing into Wooli Escarpment 2014 by Andrew Tompkins

Vicky disappearing into Wooli Escarpment 2014 by Andrew Tompkins

 

Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Award 2014

ENTRY DETAILS FOR THE 2016 AWARD can be downloaded HERE

 

Grafton Regional Gallery 18 October – 7 December 2014

 

The judge for 2014 was art critic and historian John McDonald.

 

Paul Klee is credited with stating that ‘drawing was taking a line for a walk’, and on viewing the current Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Award at the Grafton Regional Gallery one would come to the conclusion that the line meanders down a very wide path. What is on offer to viewers of the exhibition is an opportunity to engage with the many ways of telling a story through the medium of drawing. The media of drawing, as presented in the show, can be lead pencil, charcoal, brush strokes, hot wires, swipes of pigments, resin glossed over marker pen, fine paper cuts, inkjet applied lines and lines engraved in Perspex and yet there’s much more that that.

 

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Part of the gallery installation of the JADA show

 

A drawing can emulate the camera’s slice of focus, and ability to capture a shape, a form or an association of elements. It can also be part of a process to unlock alternative or new ways of seeing or considering a subject. It may be the result of an artist’s doodle emanating from an unconscious experience. Some see drawing as a lesser art as it is usually a preliminary to the art making. In this space however, drawing in all its varied forms represents the strength of the discipline and easily dispels any challenges to it being an autonomous finished artwork.

 

Fit for Duty’ 2014* by Christine Wilcox

Christine Wilcocks’ Fit for Duty 2014

 

Some viewers may have an expectation that drawing relies on evidence of draughtsmanship will expect to see works exhibiting that skill. But just drawing to exactly mimic reality is not the way of the artist. In work entitled ‘Fit for Duty’ 2014* by Christine Wilcocks takes the direct transcript of a subject to another level in a portrait of a World War I soldier. The work comments on the man’s physical examination prior to being admitted to the army. The portrait’s eyes are covered by blankness and textual elements and an aggressive inkblot form provides the viewer with a reflection on the artist’s idea of the work.

 

Petrina Seale “Home Studies in Nature II’ 2014

Petrina Seale’s Home Studies in Nature II 2014 (Detail)

 

A work about documentation is a study of a beetle by Petrina Seale entitled ‘Home Studies in Nature II’ 2014 uses coloured pencils on a white paper ground – the truncated composition to draws attention to the of the subject.

 

Matt Foley's Hotel Lake Eacham 2014

Matt Foley’s Hotel Lake Eacham 2014

 

In another work by Matt Foley entitled ‘Hotel Lake Eacham’ 2014 the artist has created a study in light of a dreamlike space, a vignette of a place imbued with a darkness and depth of black pigment that is the stuff of half remembered recollections.

 

Bruno Leti's ‘Ashes to Ashes’ 2013-2014

Bruno Leti Ashes to Ashes 2013-2014

 

Four large framed pieces by Bruno Leti entitled ‘Ashes to Ashes’ 2013-2014 is a textural surface of the paper, abstracted, patterned, colourless with blurred edged shapes like fragments of memories. The work comments on the artist’s personal experience of the destruction of places of personal significance by fire. The work itself is partly pigmented by the charcoal retrieved from the fire.

 

Wendy Sharpe's ‘Backstage Burlesque with Venetian Mask’ 2013

Wendy Sharpe’s Backstage Burlesque with Venetian Mask  2013

 

Klee’s line was taken for a dance into a seedy bohemian den by Wendy Sharpe in her work ‘Backstage Burlesque with Venetian Mask’ 2013*. A female figure being dressed presents an impish grin towards the viewer – provocatively displaying the comfort of her nakedness. Brightly coloured pastel gestures define other figures surround this main subject all preparing for the stage performance. Close viewing reveals squiggly lines that allude to other stories within the work.

 

Anthony Bennet’s ‘e pluribus anus – a portrait of Tony Abbott’ 2014

Anthony Bennett’s   e pluribus anus – a portrait of tony abbott  2014

 

Anthony Bennett’s ‘e pluribus anus – a portrait of tony abbott’ 2014 makes a political statement about his subject. A skull with Micky Mouse ears is repeated twice on a white ground made glisteningly hard by its shiny resin coating. One of the skulls is in the process of de-colouring and the pigments dribble down the large-scale work. Bennett’s drawing has all the freneticism of a hastily sketched graffiti work interrupted by a police car coming around the corner.

 

Todd Fuller’s work ‘A Dance for Paul Klee’ 2014*

Todd Fuller’s  A Dance for Paul Klee 2014

 

.Todd Fuller’s work ‘A Dance for Paul Klee’ 2014* celebrates Klee’s metaphor for drawing. The digitally presented artwork is of a choreographed dance performance that has its origin in a movie. The film has been overlaid by gestural line work positioned based on the movement of the dancer. Flourishes of colour, most noticeably red, follow and trace the subject’s animation across the screen.

 

Keys Bridge in Flood’ 2014* by Emma Walker

Emma Walker’s Keys Bridge in Flood 2014

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The overall winner of the $20,000 prize was ‘Keys Bridge in Flood’ 2014* by Emma Walker. The work is 150 x 150cm and represents the movement of water through a flooded landscape. Gazing longer at the work the viewer is captured by the vitality, rush and flow of the graphite, charcoal, pencil and pastel marks on the paper. These marks become the substance of the artist’s inspiration – they are the water, they are the flood, they are the emotions that come from the artist to us. All of these things are in that drawing….

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Doug Spowart 

15 November 2014

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* Denotes work was acquired

 

Other works acquired include:

  • Michael Cusack ‘Vista’ 2014
  • Lee Hyun-Hee ‘108 defilements’ 2013.

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The 2014 JADA will travel to seven venues over the next two years including; Manning Regional Gallery, Cowra Regional Art Gallery, the University of the Sunshine Coast Gallery, Glasshouse Port Macquarie, Redcliffe City Gallery, the Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery and the Tamworth Regional Art Gallery.

 

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catalogue

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A catalogue for the show contains an introduction by GRG Director Jude McBean, artists’ statements and images of the works.

For details contact:

 

  1. gallery@clarence.nsw.gov.au
  2. www.graftongallery.nsw.gov.au

 

 

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Please note: Photographs of artworks are the copyright of the artist. All images were made by the author in the gallery space and may have elements of reflection and lighting variations that are not part of the original artwork.

 

 

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