Written by Lucy George, photographs by Jo Lane, MA Drawing, Wimbledon College of Arts
Our latest DRAW event showcased the knowledge, experimentation and emotion behind the visual research of the graduating 2018 MA Drawing students at Wimbledon College of Art. This year’s MA show filled the space with the imagination and questioning of twelve of the newest up and coming artists who interrogate the extended field of drawing. During the evening Kimathi Donkor, MA Drawing course leader, hosted us on an intriguing tour of the show with guest speaker Professor Anita Taylor and associate lecturer Fran Norton. The event focused in on each student’s emerging artistic practice as they shared their ideas and motivations with us in their conversations with Anita Taylor.
The atmosphere of excitement in the room built up as the evening began with the introduction of Anita Taylor, Executive Dean of Bath School of Art and Design and founding Director of the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize. Anita has had a long association with Wimbledon College of Art and it’s centre for drawing. The group was looking forward to her commentary on the show. As Kimathi directed us through the show Anita held riveting conversations with each of the students in front of their work. Hearing the artists articulate their processes so eloquently gave the audience a thorough insight into the depth of thinking behind each artistic creation. The range of subject matter explored by the MA Drawing students varied from redefining their personal relationship to the creation of art to exploring how it is possible to convey the emotion of loss through a drawing.
Highlights of the show included the haunting portraits of prisoners in Pentonville Prison drawn from memory by Juan Sanchez Sabogal. They were shown as fragments of experiences rearranged into intimate groups. The drawings invited the viewer to ask what had happened during the prisoners’ lives and what would their futures hold?
Charmaine Watkiss’s life size self-portraits in her memorial drawing explored the idea of creating something beautiful in remembrance of the slaves of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Her wish to make an aesthetically beautiful object to counteract the terror of the slave trade itself. Unwrapping the layers of meaning in Charmaine’s work was thought provoking especially her use of herself in her work as part of her shared history. Indigo was grown as a crop on slave plantations and was only profitable due to slave labour. Charmaine incorporating indigo into her memorial symbolised the horrific conditions of the plantations and the exploitation of other human beings for profit.
Caroline Holt-Wilson’s drawing of rolled up historical papers belonging to her husband was visually and theoretically a delight. Her work takes her on an investigation into what we don’t yet know. Each time the drawing is displayed it takes on a different form as the papers are left to fall from the pile. What will happen next time it is displayed and what the papers contain are Caroline’s conversation with the unknown. Amber Yin’s embodied drawing of her love for her boyfriend using thread and beads was an adventurous and colourful piece that highlighted the research encouraged at Wimbledon into the extend field of drawing. The film of her boyfriend at the gym simultaneously shrouded in her love and by her fabric drawing was brilliantly achieved. As were Yixuan Du’s sound drawings which were made to encourage their audience to explore their own memories. Being surrounded by the hypnotising lines created by vibrating water on paper freed the soul for remembering.
A panel discussion with Anita and Fran answering questions and chaired by Kimathi closed the evening. The disscussion centred on the ongoing debates of the use of technology in drawing and the importance of drawing in art schools. It was brilliant to see so many alumni and friends at the event and we look forward to the next DRAW event with interest.