On 16 and 17 April Senior Research Fellow, Hilary Lloyd led a workshop with Chelsea MA Fine Art and CCW PhD students called 2 Days of Drawing. The brief read, ‘Bring a vase. Bring paper, pencils, crayons, felt tips, paint, brushes & cameras.’ Two of the students who attended both days reflected on the experience.
Miles Coote, MA Fine At student:
My initial engagement with Hilary Lloyd’s workshop was because the brief said bring a vase. I didn’t bring a vase or materials – just a pen. Hilary created an unusual environment for us to work in. First of all we had a discussion to see how popular the workshop was. It was very popular for the two of us. Hilary had a sense of humour. She brought in a small jug.
The still life drawing exercises did not build on the use of materials. The exercises were constructive and temporal. We drew the objects a number of times and the first exercises were about repetition. In the afternoon Hilary brought in a bouquet of flowers from the shop. It was harder than before because they had much more integrated details. Then we started drawing upside down and making drawings cut with scissors.
At the end of the first day, we evaluated and made comparisons of our work. It is interesting how drawing can really be affected by concentration, hopefulness and direction. Hilary said that she makes drawings during the breaks at her studio. She said that it helps her process. Freeing oneself and focusing made the outcome possible. I found the work that we produced very interesting and we were able to discuss and analyse our experiences at the time. I find it often hard to focus and felt that Hilary did a great job to teach or at least push drawing into the back of our minds. I did a drawing in a performance at the Bethnal Green Working Men’s club the day after, as part of a new performance/cabaret night called Hashtag. The audience loved posing and grouped together on the dance floor for three minutes while I drew them and sung to them Britney Spears “Hit me Baby”. My week of drawing was a brilliant experience.
Angela Hodgson-Teall, PhD student:
What is the act of drawing revealing and what is the object being drawn doing?
Hilary’s approach was full of teasing and banter, a smile was rarely far from her lips. There was a sense of irreverence, and a lack of pomposity. Her focus in drawing was to get us to make a real, accurate representation of the object. What did she mean by real? Accurate. Do it very slowly, without taking the pencil off the paper.
We drew in many ways: Draw volume and a negative space. Draw the outline of the objects (a bunch of flowers or a collection of jugs and vases) as if they are a single object. Draw the negative space around and between the objects. Draw the objects upside down (without turning the paper upside down).
Draw with a video camera as if it is a pencil following the line of the collection of jugs or the objects. Hold the video camera over the objects; close your eyes and video for a minute. To use a video camera as a pencil was a lyrical experience. Draw in pink. Draw the object without looking at it; only look at the paper. Draw the object by looking at it but not looking at the paper. Change implements, change drawings, draw on each other’s drawings and so on. She instructed us to do what we don’t usually do.
We moved on to working but cutting as a way of drawing to make a sculpture of the objects. I used a dressmaking technique to recreate the shapes of the two jugs and two vases. As I carried the small paper across the room in order to display it for a group discussion (a milk jug I had been drawing for almost two days) I imagined it full of milk. I envisaged myself pouring the milk into a cup of tea that might appear at any moment. The jug felt heavy in my hands and I could feel the balancing act that would be required to tip it slightly so that the milk would flow into the imaginary cup.
There was an hour during the class when I was the only student. As my PhD is about Drawing on the Nature of Empathy, Hilary asked me if I would like to draw her; a male model had been planned but had been unable to come at the last moment. Draw me, look at me for a long time and then draw for thirty seconds; this was repeated with the time for gazing getting shorter rather than longer, so that the drawing time became only five seconds. The pose was seated with one leg raised, supported on the radiator. Hilary was the model but she was also the teacher. There was potentiality revealed by changing roles. It gave the event a performative quality.
One particular jug, the one she brought, the first jug we drew, was small and had a spout which appeared to flow out of the body of the jug rather than being a separate piece attached during making. It was milk pale with minimal decoration. The ‘jug performs for you’she had said earlier. This was the jug whose paper model seemed able to pour milk.
Almost a month after the event I thought back to the performing jug. I remembered drawing Hilary. I found myself thinking that when she posed for me she, too, created a perfuming jug. In my mind’s eye I saw her pose echoing the flowing shape of the jug. I returned to my studio and examined the ten brief drawings of Hilary. In one of them the pose of the model echoed the shape of the jug. I suddenly felt that I had learned something about aesthetic empathy. Or ‘putting yourself in someone else’s jugs’ (rather than shoes) – I think Hilary will enjoy the joke.