Presented by Wellington School of Drawing with the support of Creative New Zealand
Body and Soul Drawing exhibition catalogue
Body and Soul With the generous support of Creative New Zealand
Copyright ÂŠ 2020 by Wellington School of Drawing All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or used in any manner without the written permission of the copyright owner. www.wellingtonschoolofdrawing.com firstname.lastname@example.org 1
Some thoughts on creating the exhibition As the old masters spoke of the joys and suffering of their times, we have seized the opportunity to tell a story of our own times. The themes of isolation, struggle, reflection and uncertainty, in short, the human condition, were our jumping off point for this project. In this task we have been privileged to collaborate with the dancers Bjorn Aslund and Honor Christian-Slane. With further support from Simone Dobbie, Kenneth Maennchen and Rayne Scotter. A personâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s emotions can be seen through their bearing. In designing the poses, both the model and the draughtsperson took turns leading and amending. This collaboration was inspiring and is evident in the work produced.
Day 1 “The figure is a metaphor for feeling, one can address what is in one’s mind and heart through drawing, our interest is in the evocative power the figure holds”. -- Deane G. Keller
Red/white chalk 12
Red/white chalk 15
Red/white chalk 17
White chalk 19
Red, white chalk 20
Day 20 “Reduction in size reduces its impact. When you don’t translate the figure down in size, there is a more visceral appreciation of it” - DK
Red, white chalk 26
Day 40 “Drawings don’t lie, the quick and the casual shows, the struggle shows, the substance or lack of substance shows. Drawing keeps you on a sure course of recognizing and organizing you own thoughts.” - DK
Day 60 â&#x20AC;&#x153;Drawing is not reproduction; you have to assemble all the assets that you have. All of the dimensions of your life come together when you draw.â&#x20AC;? - DK
D-Day 5 “To draw is to know by hand – to have the proof that [St.] Thomas demanded.” --John Berger
Opening day “The figure is a metaphor for feeling, one can address what is in one’s mind and heart through drawing.” Our interest is in the evocative power the figure holds.” DK
The Body and Soul project gave me an opportunity to continue to improve my practice in life drawing, using themes of timelessness, burdens, forests and landscapes. Some of my early drawings for the project worked well, others I needed to take in new directions. I learned a lot about the importance of perspective. For example, choosing the wrong horizon line in one drawing meant that the figure looked like a giant in the foreground. As part of developing the concept for the work I shared my ideas with the models and together we experimented with a variety of different poses, using quick sketches to test new ideas that could work for the composition.
Jesse Flynn Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m originally from the Bay of Plenty, and now live in Upper Moutere, near Nelson. I spend about half my time in Wellington, and when Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m in Wellington, I devote all my time to drawing. My brother introduced me to life drawing in 2015, and Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been studying at the Wellington School of Drawing since July 2019. 90
My original idea, of a person pulling something out of a forest, was abandoned as I explored the work of Andrew Wyeth. I used that inspiration to adapt the concept I started with, resulting in the finished work. Another time, I might spend more time thinking about the whole composition and planning perspectives first - though my focus would still be on getting the drawing as good as possible, and enjoying spending my time drawing. I feel I have resolved the issues I uncovered along the way, and am happy with the end result.
However, it wasn’t until my late twenties until I studied classical drawing with my teacher Lee Dong Up in Seoul. After two years of night classes, and learning the basics, I moved to New Zealand and forgot about art. Eventually, I started drawing pastel portraits on my own. Still, it wasn’t until I joined the Wellington School of Drawing until I regained my love of art. My main goal for this project was to draw a series of beautiful portraits in charcoal and pastel. In the past, I would have focused on only the face. Studying with Cynthia enabled me to explore going beyond the face to tell a story with each model. With both Bjorn and Honor, we worked on a series of poses that captured a sense of hopelessness. In each drawing, they are looking out a window. The colours are cold, and there is a sense of detachment from the world.
Katy Bang Growing up in South Korea, I loved reading comics. As you might imagine, my parents scolded me for what they saw as a childish hobby, but this didn’t stop me from sneaking off to the comic-book store. It was during this time I developed a love of art and storytelling. 91
Jake Fairweather I learned that as helpful as reference photos can be there is also a great value in drawing from a live model. The time limit and presence of another person is motivating. Decisions are made faster and the work can seem more alive. It was fun working with the dancers. There is a balance to be struck between executing the artists plan/composition/style/vision and recording the models personality/agency in the moment. Fellow student Hao lent me a copy of The Animatorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Survival Kit by Richard Williams. One of the most useful things I learnt while reading it was that different sections of the body were animated separately. For example, the head is animated on a certain motion path, the torso on another motion path, same with the legs and arms, etc. This helps keep the figures movements coherent and graceful.
Picking up a life drawing class at the Wellington School of Drawing last year, I feel rusty and am enjoying the opportunity to learn. As I work full time, the Saturday sessions for this project gave me a huge gift of time to work on new skills. I worked around other studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; projects, using the models as set up by them to try different techniques. I found it most productive to work alongside students who had set up long poses where I could have a sustained attempt, or number of different attempts, using the same setup. I enjoyed the still, quiet, calm contemplative poses, which gave me the opportunity to try my hand at portraiture. I was conscious of having the freedom to experiment, as I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have a fixed concept that I was trying to bring to life.
Helena Gibson When I left school in the UK in the late 80s, I attended a pre-BA Arts Foundation course, and started my Fine Arts degree the following year. At age 19, as a reckless teenager and after only one term, I emigrated to NZ, abandoning my studies. Since then, I have regretted not continuing my degree.
I am hugely grateful for this opportunity, if somewhat frustrated to feel that I have simply uncovered some lines of enquiry, rather than reaching a conclusion. I have found it so helpful to have to problem solve for myself and resolve issues that arise, learning how I like to work, rather than simply taking the direction of a class. This has really inspired me to take some more deliberate steps towards creating finished works, and I do hope the School will be able to offer similar opportunities in future.
For this project, I explored themes of isolation, struggle and social anxiety. I wanted to express both the rapid changes we have seen in 2020 and longer-term societal changes. While I had a vision for the project, I did not precisely define poses to keep the process loose and collaborative. I learned it is hard to enter a creative state while also interacting frequently with the models to set up poses. Another time I would try clarifying my vision and approach first. I also learned how important it is to choose the right format for the medium. I underestimated how complicated it is to use charcoal in a small format and chose a larger format for my final work to achieve the effect I wanted. My decision to use a variety of poses also proved troublesome, and I gave up some poses I expected to show for the exhibition.
Edern Audrain Drawing is my passion. I moved from France to Wellington two years ago to work as an architect and have attended the Wellington School of Drawing since its opening.
Working with the human figure is a journey that I take to heart and I will continue developing my skills, improving my figure drawing and conceptual work.
to work with two brilliant models and direct poses. It was even more special to be working around the themes of pandemic and global protests. It felt good to think about my experience and our collective experiences and design a project that would translate into a tangible memorandum of what we are living through. I learned a lot through working with the models and listening to their feedback. I prepared thoroughly, and met with the models to discussing the approach I wanted to take. We experimented with different poses to identify scenes that vividly illustrated the theme. I took forward a drawing that spoke to a tender moment â&#x20AC;&#x201C; one person helping another put on a mask. This pose highlighted a moment of human connection, with the mask as a symbol of this time.
Abigail Sucsy I started taking classes at the Wellington School of Drawing last year, focusing on anatomy and open life drawing sessions.
I tried to bring forward three themes â&#x20AC;&#x201C; gratitude for the support of those we can have contact with, the specialness of human touch, and a celebration of the tiny pieces of cloth that unite us all in hope.
I wanted to be involved in the Body and Soul project as soon as I heard about the opportunity 95
through my window. As the lock-down went on, looking out of the window became my favourite pastime, as it allowed me to meditate and focus on something other than myself. I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have a teddy bear, so I felt somewhat muted in the world of COVID-19, when people started putting their teddy bears in their windows as a way to encourage others. So my plan was to reflect this feeling, and draw somebody looking out of a window in a contemplative manner. The idea is simple - I chose to focus on drawing the body and representing a meditative attitude. Halfway through I realized I had chosen a difficult angle to see the model from, because a great deal of foreshortening was required to draw the legs. Other than that, my experience had a nice cadence.
Gabriel Salsas I participated in this project because it was a good opportunity to express myself publicly about a current subject. My experience with COVID-19 was limited to my house, and my view of the world was 96
Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m grateful for participating in this project because the company of fellow artists and the models made it a special and shared experience, precisely what a lockdown makes you long for.
the reason people got into hand crafts and baking during lockdown, was the lack of human touch and the longing to touch someone. This was my initial inspiration for Body & Soul, interpreting that longing for human touch and how we live through our hands. On the first session I asked Honor to explore emotions with her hands, and through a serious of quick poses we found the one that felt right. Both of her hands are visible, the other clutching the shirt at the waist, the other gently laid at the neck. Honor’s input was essential to find the correct feeling for the drawing. She lent her performer’s skills to physicalize my idea, and through discussion and trials we found the perfect pose with the required narrative, that was comfortable enough for her to hold during our hours together.
Heli Salomaa The Finnish word for craftsman/artisan – käsityöläinen – is the best one to describe my professional identity and artistic process (käsi = hand, työläinen = worker). My design process has always been very material based – my inspirations often come from tactile materials. During lockdown I kept my hands busy – I drew, baked, gardened. One of those days I came across a theory, that
Since I’ve never been good at drawing hands, I spent most of my time with Honor just trying to get them right, feeling insufficient and dwelling in despair. Fortunately, Honor was extremely supportive, and I appreciated the long hours I got to work alone with her, just concentrating on depicting the story I wanted to express. If I were to do it again, I would spend more time adjusting the pose accurately on the paper and less trying to depict the hands exactly right. The final drawing feels a little unfinished and overworked at the same time. 97
Professional dancer 99
In planning the Body and Soul project, we envisioned reaching beyond the familiar studio method to foster a collaborative spirit. Rather than ‘working from the model’ we aimed to work with the models. Usually, the pose is set by an instructor and the class adjust their positions to find a good viewpoint from which to draw. The new alliance between dancer and draughtsperson, in setting the pose, challenged the accustomed way of working. A figure’s bearing is a sure means to revealing emotion. Dancers with their heightened understanding of ‘body language’ are more conscious of the stories our bodies tell. Having worked with Bjorn Aslund and Honor Christian-Slane earlier in the year, we were confident of their support for the project and their professional skill. Though, initially challenging, the artists were obliged to discuss their ideas and produce sketches of imagined poses. On many occasions the dancers proved to be invaluable as enablers, engaging with the artists’ ideas and providing a great source of encouragement.
Director of Wellington School of Drawing 100
The exhibition brief asked for works which spoke to themes of isolation, struggle and emotion in times of extremity. We set the bar high, aiming to be interpretive and transcend the
act of mere copying, tackling mood, meaning and composition. This inventive aspect was daunting. As artists we are easily overwhelmed by elaborate visions which often became unworkable. Artists are dreamers and those dreams can dominate and ultimately crush invention. As a result, we learned quickly to find a viable starting point. On a number of occasions, â&#x20AC;&#x153;just drawingâ&#x20AC;? without elaborate planning, carried the work. This project presented the artists with new difficulties in sustaining and extending the drawing process. Several, who had considered abandoning a piece of work, pushed on, and persevered to produce remarkable works. We rarely have the opportunity to hold sustained drawing sessions of more than three hours but with the generous support of Creative New Zealand, we were finally able to give more time to our efforts and the resulting work speaks of accomplishment.
Special thanks to the photographer David Gurr capturing our precious moments. Also thanks to Tri Phan for helping out the event and taking photos. 101