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Looking up

31 Mar

On a walk through Hyde Park in London and towards Victoria, I watched a distracted public immersed in their smart technology and not with the glorious sunshine and human parade around them. It reminded me of the joy of reportage. The joy of looking and paying attention. Even hyper-attention to ones surroundings. Ideas swarm and there is an intimacy in the held visions that eventually become drawings. It is a communion with the subject but also with wider humanity. Post Brexit, this small world of reinforced ideologies and tailored entertainment can produce a dangerous and comfortable bubble. I suppose it already has. Fear can more easily creep in because we are more disconnected. The promise of technology was a lie. We can’t engage if we don’t look up. Enjoy!


New video

6 Feb

Take a look at a video of me drawing and talking about drawing. Filmed by the University of West England in Bath. Enjoy!

Sheffield Drawings

3 Feb

These drawings were done in a single evening and morning before a conference I attended. Sheffield is an appealing city with a vibrant arts scene, particularly in music and film. My aimless wandering uncovered these characters who seemed iconic of the somewhat less savoury aspects of the city. In fact, like many northern cities I have visited, Sheffield has a significant number of vacant shops and depressed areas butting right up against areas that have had cash infusions bolstering the arts and shopping districts. This partial gentrification is typical of cities that are very much in the throws of economic and cultural change. Too often these changes elevate a very small and privileged few. The psychic tension between the industrial city of old and the new, incentivised, flatpack cultural identity thrust upon these cities is often absurd. Sheffield was a city trying very hard. I wasn’t there long enough to figure out for whom that effort was focused.


Reportage article

19 Oct

Here is an article recently published in IAFOR’s online magazine THINK. Scroll down for all of the drawings i did in Barcelona. Enjoy!

Berlin Sketchbook

5 May

Here is a collection of the drawings I did on a recent trip to Berlin. They are presented as they were drawn (in a square sketchbook). It was a trip that reminded me of what many cities lack in their quest to satisfy the needs of gentrified and sterile middle class tastes. It was still a bit wild and earnest. Enjoy!


California daydreams

25 Sep

Here are some drawings done in California. Between travelling with children and enduring quite brutal heat, this is not as robust an effort as I would usually make. Still, California is an endlessly fascinating place for me. Perched at the edge of the American dream and being filled with dreamers, it represents those frictions between fantasy and fulfilment. It is still frontier land and the freedom of exploration and discovery of that not so distant past is still in the daydream haze that fills the heads of its citizens.

I am quite rusty drawing Americans. In the past they were my bread and butter. I relished in the fat and filigree. I realise now that my approach to drawing people is less about the people themselves but their symbolic power. Their momentary pose which, like a statue, eschews mere representation and enshrines human achievement (no matter how small or bad or good).

To wake up from the dream that is California is profoundly sad. Invested in the palm trees and wide open vistas is the closest thing America comes to paradise and yet, because of this, like all things American, it becomes a victim of it’s own success. It now chokes on the exhaust of it’s own decadent dreams. Mixed in with moments of placid calm at the beach are unpredictable traffic jams and the same feverish capitalism that drove everyone out there in the first place (or was that the beaches?). But still, like dreams themselves, California works on a logic of its own. Here’s to the dreamers!

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Whispers and Shouts

15 Jun

It is hard to think of any other activity that forces you to merge your inward and outward vision in the way that drawing does. This is particularly true of Reportage drawing and it’s greatest conceit is that it is a record of pure observation. What it really is is a record of thought, synthesis, presumption, judgment and looking. It is an act that requires the artist to participate in a dialogue about what is worth drawing and, importantly, why should we care? This is is the job of the artist. To make us care. To draw us in to a particular vision of the world that challenges us to think about the circumstances of others. The nature of the struggle to live and keep your head above water. This granularity is so perfectly captured in the rough marks of a drawing that the whisper or shout of humanity is ever present (even in less confident drawings). Enjoy!netter.markertest.1 netter.markertest.2 netter.reportage.drunk netter.reportage.hydepark netter.reportage.hydepark.sunbathers netter.reportage.oldman

Mining the pavement

20 Mar

These drawings are from my commute, Portsmouth and London. This collection of people were spotted in ordinary locations and playing out the routine of ordinary life. What they reveal is the remarkable theatre of the everyday that sees individuals and groups engaged in small and large dramas which inevitably, when drawn, have a distilled, symbolic weight. Out on the street we are always going somewhere else. I am mining the pavement to see if those transitory moments represent a kind of destination unto themselves. Perhaps drawing of this kind is a meditation on our time alone. Our time disconnected from origins and destinations where we confront our own thoughts among others similarly caught in transitory states. Enjoy!

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23 Feb

These drawings were done on a single day in Walthamstow Market in London. It is a very different place from 1997 when I lived there. The market was fairly deserted and store fronts seemed tired and dated. It was a difficult place to draw and not draw attention. I ducked into many side alleys and roads to draw on my knee on bike stands and front porches. Often when worried about being noticed I was met with total indifference and other times, when seemingly shrouded from view, I had quiet observers appear and startle me. It would seem that drawing is for some such a foreign activity that is neither suspicious or provocative. Young kids are particularly uninterested, seeing what I am doing as either archaic or incomprehensible. I do wonder how people in general are engaging with the tangible realities of a shared planet of people when their heads are stuck in a digitally mediated world. Drawing brings such an intimacy to experience that it inevitably connects one to the day to day realities of the people around us. Long may we look up and not just down at the world around us.

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More random acts of drawing

27 Jan

Here are several drawings from a variety of locations. The drawings done in the natural history museum in London were done completely from direct observation and not from memory. This was an exciting challenge around unpredictable school kids and rubber necking tourists. I was happy to see I wasn’t the only person drawing in there.  In fact, it seemed a popular activity. Not surprising considering the beauty of the building and the rich diversity of compliant subjects that don’t move! The more I consider my practice the more I realise that drawing is profoundly rewarding in so many ways. In no other act do we experience, in tangible ways, our struggle with understanding our perceptual reality and, how flexibly we can bend it to our purposes. Enjoy!netter.bathcouple netter.haunchofvenison.salisbury netter.nathistory.smalldinos netter.naturalhistory.chimptalk netter.naturalhistory.darwin netter.naturalhistory.dinodolphin netter.naturalhistory.dodo netter.naturalhistory.largedino netter.portsmouth.crispeater netter.salisbury.haunchofvenison netter.salisbury.romanceisdead nettersketch.salisbury