Tag Archives: snow

A Life Of Its Own

21 Mar

er gof 4

Three years ago I visited Berlin, the temperature was around minus 20 degrees C and there was a couple of feet of snow everywhere. I went to the Holocaust Memorial, thousands of black stelae in a grid across the landscape and the deep snow threw ethereal shadows between the columns. I took a lot of photos because I was immensely moved by the sight – and sound – it was so muffled because of the snow. It’s taken all this time to really get to grips with it, to find a way of expressing the imagery in some way, to know what to do with it.

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I think I’ve found a way forward with it at last, developing the work through the manier noir reductive drawing technique over the past two days at the Creative Bubble artspace in Swansea. The original photos, five of them in this slideshow, are the basis of the work, but once I’ve roughly mapped them onto the prepared paper with chalk, they start to become something else, they get a life of their own. I don’t normally work like this, it’s a new direction for me but I’m enjoying cutting myself loose.

Drawing A Big One

17 May


I’m making a drawing installation for the Commensalis collective’s new show which is opening at Fringe Arts Bath (FAB2014) next Friday. It’s made up of five sections and this is the first, a large drawing (about 150 x 200 cms) in carbon, graphite and charcoal. It’s based on drawings I’ve done from photographs taken during a visit to Berlin a couple of years ago. It was minus 20C and there was about 2 feet of snow everywhere; it covered the Holocaust Memorial throwing the dark granite monoliths into sharp relief against the pristine white snow, creating ethereal grey shadows in between.

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Fluffy Tracer Bullets

18 Jan

18 snow

So we were supposed to have snow. I didn’t believe a word of it. We hardly ever have snow in these here parts because of our micro-climate and the Gulf Stream. But today, it happened. There was snow. Not a lot. Just enough for Husb and I to get in a brisk walk to the beach in a horizontal gale with white fluffy tracer bullets stinging our eyes.

I made the poor man cower behind a statue out of the wind while I scribbled furiously into my little Khadi handmade sketchbook with contes, pastels and compressed charcoals in various shades of black, white and grey, which just about summed up the landscape. Almost monochrome. And freezing.

It was fun scribbling the snow on top of the smudged drawing of the beach – almost calligraphic.

Making Marks

12 Jan

studio shot

I’ve been asked to provide a piece for an exhibition to celebrate Art’s Birthday, which is next Monday. I’ve been give a 20 inch cardboard cube and I can do what I want in it. I’ve had an idea for quite a while to develop a drawing installation so I thought this would be a good chance to try out some ideas because the cube is just a very small room. I’m basing some drawings on digital images manipulated from original photos taken in Berlin a couple of winters back, when it was knee deep in snow. The temperature was about -20C but Germany didn’t grind to a halt. The trains carried on. The schools stayed open and kindergarten children were out in the grounds making tiny igloos with their little hands. How come a couple of centimetres of snow closes Britain down?

The drawing is on mark resist acetate film (Mylar) in Faber Castell Pitt pens sizes S, F, M and B. I’ve been interested for some time in the notion that drawing and writing are both about making marks that create abstract representations of the world and this is one of the motivations behind this project. There’s so much drawing involved that I get into ‘the zone’ and the marks come naturally, each looks unique, like snowflakes. I’m learning a lot by doing it – one of the things that’s become obvious is that I’m not likely to be able to draw a room-size installation with such small pens – I’ll have to find an alternative.

Freezing In Berlin: Dots On Film

26 Feb

.”].A couple of years ago I visited Berlin during one of the worst winters we’ve had in a long time. Of course, while Britain more or less shut down at the sight of snow, the German’s just threw more clothes on, gritted the roads and pavements and carried on. The temperature was awful – the coldest I’ve ever been, -15C at lunchtime and -20C at night. We wandered up Potsdam to look at the Memorial in  to the Murdered Jews of Europe in the deep snow. It was even more breathtaking than usual, under a deep layer of muffled ethereal snow that formed deep white pathways between the granite stelae. The brilliant sunshine threw the most incredible shadows across the whiteness, setting up a vibrating monochrommatic shimmer.

It was too cold to draw [although I tried] so when I came back I worked from photographs to produce this drawing. Although it looks quite abstract, it is based on life. The challenge was in what to use to draw it. I don’t particularly like graphite and I found charcoal too clumsy for what I wanted to do, so I used my FCP pen, size S and F and constructed the drawing out of marks that represented half-tone dots. It took me ages. It’s size A3 on Mark Resist film [Mylar].

A Big Bum and The Berlin Bundestag

29 Jul

Sandra's bottom in Berlin

Berlin, January 2010 and a group of artists from Swansea were traipsing around in two feet of snow when I did this unflattering drawing of Sandra during our guided tour of the Bundestag. Minus 15º C meant that we were all overdressed in lots of layers and although film and video are supposed to add ten pounds, drawing isn’t meant to! Poor Sandra; her bum isn’t this big really.

The tour included an insight into the social and political conditions that led to Hitler’s rise – it was grim. A lot of our group had parents who lived through World War Two and I found it harrowing at times, although I was heartened by the honesty of our German guide and the historical information displays. The building has loads of fantastic contemporary art installed and it’s topped off with a huge open-air dome designed by Norman Foster. We walked up it at the end of the tour and looked down on the city with snow swirling around us. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Minus 15 and still drawing

24 Jul

Melvyn in Berlin in the snow

Minus fifteen in Berlin and I’m drawing in the snow. I carry my sketchbook and draw all over the place and it went with me to Germany in January 2010 which was one of the coldest winters in a generation with two feet of snow and temperatures dropping to minus 20ºC at night. I’ve never been so cold and I wore a balaclava, fake fur coat and fingerless gloves so that I could do my street drawing around the city. Berlin didn’t stop. There was no ‘wrong kind of snow on the tracks’ nonsense. Schools didn’t invoke ‘Elfin Safety’ and close for the day; we saw tiny little kindergarten children wrapped up warm in the playground, building tiny little igloos with their teachers.


My drawings of Melvyn are often from below because he’s so much taller. We had a break from the extreme temperatures when we went on the metro and I did this sketch while we were travelling, using Faber Castell Pitt drawing pens and a sanguine conté crayon. I think you can see his Viking ancestry in this drawing.


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