Wednesday, 22 October 2014


JERWOOD SPACE and other venues
Freya Gabie, Study of caravan wallpaper, ink on paper, 77x57cms . Photography Benjamin Cosmo Westoby.

 This work is one of 51 short listed drawings selected from 3,243 entries to this year's prestigious Jerwood Drawing Prize competition. The entries include works using charcoal, watercolour, graphite, gouache, oil, mixed media, coloured pencil, crayon and thread; also paper cut, photo-documentation, plaster, pigment and video work (filmed drawing). The winner was Alison Carlier whose entry was, amazingly, a soundpiece lasting 1 minute 15 seconds entitled Adjectives, Lines and Marks, "an open-ended audio drawing" that offers "a spoken description of an unknown object".

So why choose this particular work? It demonstrates the subtlety and directness of drawing. And the subject matter touches on an English legacy of love for caravans which stretches back to Elizabeth van Arnim's  The Caravaners and Kenneth Grahame's Wind in the Willows, published within a year of each other at the beginning of the 20th century.

The artist found the wallpaper pasted in an old caravan she lived in for a while. She says "I had wanted to track the symmetrical, repetitive arrangement of the pattern, yet knowing the error of my eye and the inadequacy of my hand would lead the flowers to deviate from their regimented alignment to cause fluctuation, animation and disorder: an approximation of life". So her beautiful drawing is not of flowers which have been pressed into service as wallpaper, but of a subject matter which shimmers with a contained, pastoral world of romance and travel and discovery.

It is not just the extraordinary detail which makes each flower head look freshly minted, nor the pattern of blooms which flow so beautifully and organically, bursting in from the left. Look too at the space, the white emptiness, the peace.

(Drawing) is often an art of absence, a whisper as opposed to a declaration; a suggestion rather than a certitude’.
Dr Janet McKenzie, one of the three judges.

 The fully illustrated catalogue is here: 

Prizewinners and shortlisted entries will be on show at 
Cheltenham       until Jan 4  
Leeds                Jan 16 - 1 March

Bournemouth     13 march - 23 April    

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