The Reading Room at Middlesbrough Library

The Reading Room Hosted by MAP

Whos who…

Richard Talbot the chair
Richard is the AHRC Research Fellow in the Creative and Performing Arts at Newcastle University, UK

20 mins presentations by invited artist…
Sian Bowen
Kate Davis
David Musgrave

The audience… that included attendees from North East Art Teacher Network Elizabeth Kane and George Peak!


An interesting introduction by the chair Richard Talbot introduced the notion of the relationship between 2D and 3D art forms within drawing… he talked of his own personal drawing practice as building or making.
Speculated on the intentions that artists and people in general have for drawing… emphasised drawing as a method of reassessing our knowledge of the world.

Richard Talbot pointed to recent exhibitions of drawing at Kettles Yard particularly a show curated by Barry Phipps who displayed drawings of artists, surgeons, engineers, astronomers and architects together linked by a thread of speculation and open ended thinking.

“Lines of Enquiry: Thinking Through Drawing” at Kettle’s Yard Gallery, Cambridge (2006).

Sain Bowen

Looked at the work she had made from a number of residencies (Villa Roma, Italy [2000]; Metal Residency; Kyoto Art Centre Japan [2006] and the V&A [2006-2008])

Sian Bowen work was interested in/investigated a number of interconnected issues
– Tensions
i) Between Surface or figure and ground… creating ephemeral drawings by scavenging support material e.g. old wallpaper, and using reflective pigments on reflective grounds etc.
ii) Between damage and the creative impulse… drawing by burning in a manner that must be ‘controlled’ to a certain degree.

– Directing light
Light activating a drawing (how a drawing changes in different lights, how this is controlled in different settings) shadows as part of a drawing.

– Intimacy and scale
Using old love letter obliterating the written meaning but holding onto the sense of intimacy, the mark a fingerprint leaves

Kyoto Arts Centre, Japan
Sian Bowen at the V&A

Kate Davis

Kate Davis started by talking about the idea of between shadow and truth, Michaelangelo describing the difference between painting and sculpture. She described her own drawings as between shadow and truth.
Davis described her initial conflict in work between interest in ‘materials and stuff’ versus ‘concept and ideas’.

The realisation that Kate Davis described as being most liberating and helpful was the notion “I am not responsible for the absolute interpretation of my work”

She illustrated this with a diagram she was shown as an undergraduate of a basic line drawing that could be seen in different ways-
1) Looking into a room 2) Looking down on a pyramid 3) The back of an envelope 4) And I forget the fourth!

Kate alluded to the fact that drawing was discouraged on her BA so it was a private endeavour for many years that ran alongside her sculpture work but was never seen.

Kate Davis won the Jerwood Drawing prize in 2001 with a drawing from a series exploring states of being.

The culmination of her work completed at the Wordsworth Museum and Art gallery is described at
Kate Davis is represented by FRED

David Musgrave

(artist, reseacher, lecturer & curator)

David Musgrave began by talking about the context of drawing today.
He spoke a little of the resurgence of drawing and argued that you could always find drawing (even with Brit art in mid 90s Paul Noble and James Pyeman were making drawings) and a more accurate statement might be that drawing is fashionable.

Nobody stopped drawing but now its okay to say, “I draw, I like drawing!”
He described art as a ‘meaningful transaction or rich intermediary between people’ rather than something that communicates directly- otherwise writing or speaking is much better.

David also talked a little about ‘relational aesthetics’- this went a bit over my head and he confessed after being a lecturer reading several undergraduates dissertations that touched on it he himself had only just got round to reading it because he is a “good artist opposed to a bad artist” by which I think he means good as in well behaved, proper artist!

He also described art education at university as a bad parent,

Lecturer Oh dont do that! Do this.
Undergraduate Why?
Lecturer Because I’m telling you.
Wry smile from knowing attendees!

His CV
One of his recent exhibitions
AN exhibition he curated
The Drawing Room, it was claimed, is the only UK based gallery solely focussed on drawing practice.

Concluding Discussion

There was some debate about control and chance/serendipity within the artist work… Richard Talbot felt that the artists set carefully defined parameters within which the work was created but the other artists disagreed. This makes me think of the premise of the show at Allenheads Contemporary Art centre “Draw a line and follow it”

Reasons drawing has once again become fashionable- audience member tentatively suggested it was reactionary in response to YBAs… genreally the panel disagreed think the intentions that artists have for drawing are much more varied and typically deeper… David Musgrave said the reason he made art was because, “I want something to happen”.

Mark making versus drawing… is there a difference? This question lead onto the panel attempting to talk about the definition of drawing- which they agreed was not helpful, when you come to one definition you inevitably come across some difficulty. Richard Talbot ventured it was about lines!

At this point I had to leave to discover I’d missed my train home. Whoops! Still worth it though.


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