Tag Archives: Rootstein Hopkins

Drone on the Range or “Step Away From Your Shadow”

CCW Professor and Rootstein Hopkins Chair of Drawing Stephen Farthing is exhibiting prints and paintings at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2015. He is working to explain why Native American culture is infinitely more resilient today than it was at the end of the nineteenth century. This is part of Farthing’s research into Native American drawing.

‘I have been following a track that I hope will enable me to better understand how and why eighteenth and nineteenth century colonialists encouraged the indigenous people they encountered to illuminate their oral histories by drawing. I started in Australia and New Zealand with Maori and Aboriginal drawing, then this last year I shifted my inquiry to the Smithsonian Archives in Washington DC, where my focus has been the Native American collections. At the centre of my interest are the Native American narrative drawings known as “Ledger Drawings”. These were mostly made during the mid to late nineteenth century by Plains Indians during their detention in US army forts.

As an artist researcher, my work simultaneously heads off in two directions – on one side there is the written, on the other the drawn and painted. On this occasion my writing explores the conventions of Ledger Drawings, while my drawings and paintings manipulate images that are concerned with the conventions of warfare, the subject matter of most Ledger Drawings. Each of my drawings starts with “the brave” and end with “the  sneaky”. Together they become a narrative that takes us from the bald eagle to the drone. The writing, which has quite different ambitions, explores the effects of a European education and the introduction of paper and pencil on Plains Indian drawing. I envisage the drawn side of my research growing into a much bigger project that will in the end be painted and have little to do with its starting point. The writing however, has stayed true to its starting point and will soon be done.

This summer, as a way of testing some early results, I have turned four images – Step Away From Your Shadow and Drone on the Range, Wounded Knee and Dance – into hand finished digital prints that I’m showing at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. I find showing at the Summer Exhibition useful. Even if not a critical word is exchanged, it enables me to see what I have done  beyond the context of my own studio and in the company of my peers.

Ticking away in the background, beyond the writing and drawing, I have a third direction which is a result of my Chairmanship of the Royal Academy Exhibitions Committee. Two years ago I was asked by my committee to explore the possibility of mounting a large scale exhibition of Native American Visual Culture. Since then I have been involved in a journey and lengthy consultation process that has taken me to museums, archives, Native American reservations and  meetings with scholars. The aim? To begin to understand and shape an exhibition that will represent Native American visual culture in London as a resilient contributor to twenty-first century global culture.’

Farthing has been a Royal Academician since 1998.

Top Image: 818 – STEP AWAY FROM YOUR SHADOW #2, hand-finished digital print, Stephen Farthing

The Jocelyn Herbert Archive

On Monday 16th February 2015 the Rootstein Hopkins Foundation hosted a reception to celebrate the move of the Jocelyn Herbert Archive to the National Theatre Archive in the NT Studio on The Cut. Speeches were by Sir Nicholas Hytner, Sir John Sorrell, Sandra Lousada and Professor Eileen Hogan- Director of the Jocelyn Herbert Archive. The Rootstein Hopkins Foundation which has supported the Jocelyn Herbert Archive during its time at Wimbledon College of Arts will continue to fund research relating to the collection now that her archive is housed at the National Theatre.

Jocelyn Herbert (1917 – 2003) was a seminal figure in postwar twentieth-century British theatre. Her approach altered the way directors and audiences came to view stage design and contributed to a fundamental shift in the relationship between writer, director and designer. The Jocelyn Herbert Archive is one of the most complete and extensive of the period, covering many world premieres of plays which have since come to be seen as twentieth century classics.  She wanted her archive to be used in a practical way by students and other researchers and made as accessible to them as possible. She had a long connection with the theatre department at Wimbledon College of Arts, was often called in as an external examiner or otherwise to advise the students, and in 2000 she received an honorary doctorate. In 2008 the archive moved to Wimbledon College of Art and was installed in a newly built, environmentally controlled room. This, together with the digitisation of all the drawings and the cataloguing of the archive was made possible by a substantial grant from the Rootstein Hopkins Foundation.

The archive consists of over 6,000 of Herbert’s drawings for set and costume designs spanning student work made at the London Theatre Studio in the late 1930s, to the notebook she was using on the day she died. It includes production photographs, notebooks relating to film and theatre and to personal life, sketchbooks, diaries and contact books, three-dimensional stage models, ground plans, research material, budgets invoices and Minutes relating to meetings, posters and programmes, scripts, moulds for masks, masks and puppet figures.  Herbert’s career was characterised by long collaborative relationships with directors, writers and actors, and her archive embraces a significant body of material and correspondence with figures such as Lindsay Anderson, Samuel Beckett, Tony Harrison, John Osborne, Tony Richardson, David Storey and Arnold Wesker. As well as her vital connection with the English Stage Company at the Royal Court theatre, she had an influential role at the National Theatre, designing many plays there and as a member of Lawrence Olivier’s Building Committee for Denys Lasdun’s National Theatre South Bank design.  Olivier’s letter asking Jocelyn to become the company’s resident designer (a role she declined) is among the correspondence relating to her relationship with the National.

From 2008 to 2014 the archive has been used by students and staff from Wimbledon College of Arts as an inspiration for re-enacting historical designs and as a catalyst for new work and exhibitions. It has also been the subject for graduate and doctoral research both within the UAL and externally. Collaborative relationships have been established with the University of Stirling, where Lindsay Anderson’s archive is held, University of Reading in relation to Samuel Beckett’s archive, the V & A, which holds the archive of the English Stage Company, the Archive of Performance in Greek and Roman Drama at the University of Oxford and, most importantly, the National Theatre, host for the Jocelyn Herbert Lectures, first given in 2010 by Richard Eyre and funded by the Rootstein Hopkins Foundation for ten years. This lecture series is designed to increase public awareness of a largely invisible discipline within an otherwise closely monitored activity. Other lecturers so far have been the designer ULTZ and the playwright Christopher Hampton.

In 2014 an exciting collaboration was established between UAL and the National Theatre, whereby the National Theatre has become the new home for the archive. This coincides with far-reaching developments at the National which put design and education at the heart of the theatre. The move provides improved access for all students, and annual internships for CCW’s (Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon Colleges of Art) MA Theatre Design and Curating and Collections courses. New PhD and post-doctoral work will be funded by the Rootstein Hopkins Foundation.  A CCW research project to create new work inspired by Herbert’s archive will start in 2015. Wimbledon Space is currently exhibiting Work From the Collections #3: Jocelyn Herbert and Samuel Beckett, curated by students from Chelsea’s MA Curating & Collections course.

Top image: Erin Lee talking to colleagues about the Jocelyn Herbert Archive in the National Theatre Context. Photo by Karen DiFranco.

Mike Taylor Senior Partner Hopkins Architects

The Olympics Drawn

In November 2012, Dr Joanne O’Hara was selected to be the Rootstein-Hopkins Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, exploring the role of drawing in the planning of London’s 2012 Olympics, working alongside Professor Stephen Farthing. O’Hara describes the work she is doing and the forthcoming exhibition which will present these research findings.

‘The project The Olympics Drawn began in earnest in November 2012, only a few months after the close of both the London Olympic and Paralympic Games. The aim of the project is to chart the role of drawing (of all types) in the preparation, planning and implementation of London 2012.

‘My appointment was made to work with Professor Stephen Farthing on the project for its two year duration: eighteen months in and the initial scoping phase has been done. In this research context we realised pretty early on that a full survey of drawings made for London 2012 would be beyond the scope of the project. We have always aimed to create an interesting, illuminating, and engaging sample or cross-section of drawings from across the board, spanning a multi-disciplinary group of artists, designers and everyone else in between who drew to contribute to the Olympics. By covering a range of topics which are familiar to our audience and to which they will instantly relate, and other more obscure but essential aspects of the production, we hope to bring the scale of London 2012 and the importance and variety of drawing together.

‘The sourcing of these materials has been much harder than we originally expected. Rather than using a central repository, or archive, much of our research has been conducted through individuals themselves and our findings as a result have been dependent on what drawings they held onto. In many cases, frustratingly, we listened to what they had just gotten rid of! It has been fascinating to hear about all levels of the design and production process, from the intern working during the summer of their university holidays, to the design principal through whose office every development of the design of the built environment passed.

‘After a fascinating scoping exercise, talking to people from all sorts of areas of expertise, we are now looking forward to displaying the fruits of our research at Wimbledon Space, 10 October-14 November 2014. We hope to showcase a range of these drawings in the exhibition to bring together a multitude of drawing types, from different disciplines and with varied purposes, produced for the London 2012 Olympics.

‘As we now are bringing together all of the practical elements of the show in time for opening in October, we look forward to welcoming you to the exhibition!’