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  • Bénat Olaberria:  "yellow lines scrawl across dark areas of tone alongside the fuzzy mark-making".

  • Laura Hudson: "gloriously rich and full of dark seductive surfaces". 

  • Gary Barker:  "His tumbling figures and suspended buildings reveal a febrile and complex imagination".   

  • Richard Eastwood:  "lively figure studies of Poussin's A Dance to the Music of Time in the Wallace Collection, London".

  • Chris Gilbert: "the received concept of what a sketchbook should be".

  •  Barabara Sykes:  "These damaged bruised drawings are a poignant examination of the nature of the human condition".   

  • Richard Baker: "A diary of sorts .... records the passage of time in page after page of carefully controlled oil colour studies contained within the same size rectangle". 

  • Melanie Wickham: "beautifully observed and heartbreaking in their references". 

  •  Anny Evason:  "For sheer delight in drawing it is hard to beat Anny Evason’s Beach".   

  • Christine Mackay: "a complex exploration though mapping and use of found material of a particular theme expressed in discreet drawings".  

  • Anne Desmet:   "people and places, visual notes of meetings, evidence a sketchbook as constant companion". 

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  • The Rabley Drawing Centre was founded in Marlborough, Wiltshire, UK by Meryl Ainslie in 2005.  The Centre has developed an international reputation for its exhibitions and unique range of art courses specialising in drawing and printmaking. 

    Touring Dates of Sketch 2017

    22 July – 3 September 2017
    Black Swan Arts, Frome
    2 Bridge Street
    Frome, BA11 1BB

    9 September – 6 October 2017
    Plymouth College of Art
    Tavistock Place
    Plymouth PL4 8AT

    20 November – 15 December 2017
    Peter Scott Gallery
    Lancaster Arts
    Great Hall Complex
    Lancaster University LA1 4YW

     

    Fiona Robinson is an artist, curator, writer and a Founding Creator of Baby Forest.  

    You can explore more of her work here: babyforest.co/fionarobinson

  • There is an almost fifty fifty split between sketchbooks that were concerned with observation and representations of the real or fictional as opposed to abstract investigations although it felt as if figuration dominated.  For some artists the concept of a sketchbook exhibition is problematic. Sketchbooks are often so intensely personal and revealing both of process or ideas, some that work, some abandoned, that artists cannot bear to part with them to be rifled through by strangers! They express doubts about the concept behind such exhibition feeling that many submissions are prepared especially for a show rather than being an ongoing investigation or visual journal built up over a period of time.  This may well be the case, however the works selected for Sketch 2017 prove that timescale is essentially irrelevant.  These sketchbooks represent the intimacy of each artist’s thought processes as they record their experience of a particular place; explore an object or theme; develop compositions or immerse themselves in different media.  They offer a glimpse into where an artist begins rather than where they arrive.

    © Fiona Robinson 2017



     

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  • Some sketchbooks stood out because of their combination of acute observation with a revelation of the artist’s personal concerns. Melanie Wickham’s studies, interspersed with little monoprints on tissue paper, of museum specimens of birds, complete with identification labels, are beautifully observed and heartbreaking in their references to the oil spills that kill these exquisite creatures of the air and sea. For sheer delight in drawing it is hard to beat Anny Evason’s Beach.  These beautiful little studies in pencil, smudged and rubbed out encapsulate the abandoned scrubland of derelict seaboard landscapes. In Gary Barker’ acutely observed sepia ink drawings the mark-making is reminiscent of Van Gogh.  His second book takes these observational studies further as he develops his compositional ideas. His tumbling figures and suspended buildings reveal a febrile and complex imagination.  >>>>>>>

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    This is the fourth time that Rabley Contemporary has planned and executed this open submission exhibition and its success is due to the tireless hard work of Rabley director Meryl Ainslie.  These sketchbooks are outstanding examples of the genre in a rich and diverse exhibition.  This year from an international submission of over 520 a hundred sketchbooks were selected.  Selections always reflect the selectors personal preferences and the overriding impression was of sketchbooks that were vibrant and free, many filled with colour, marks and charcoal exuberantly traveling across double page spreads. This was the first time that the selection was done digitally thus facilitating international and a genuinely national coverage.  The advantage of selecting from actual works is that it gives the selectors an opportunity to look at the physical object. Some types of drawing does not lend itself to digitalization. But it seems from the delicate nature of some of the works in Sketch that this does not appear to have been a disadvantage.                                                                                                      >>>>>>>>>                                                                                                                                             

     

     

     

     

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  • Bénat Olaberria’s yellow lines scrawl across dark areas of tone alongside the fuzzy mark-making characteristic of mono-printing. This had the feel of an artwork in its own right. His second larger format book with its powerful charcoal drawings retaining the same confident line revels in page after page of exuberant, passionate drama. In complete contrast are the supremely delicate and fragile spiders webs spreading out across Christine Mackey’s R-Connaissance Book 1. Captured together with the dust and detritus left by human occupation these delicate pages of filigree traces are interspersed with Mylar, so each page can initially be viewed first through its opacity giving a it a faded paleness.  A turn of the page reveals a view without that intervention, which allows the rough surface and finer than needle fine lines to assert their tensile strength.  Made in response to a specific site/house in Offaly in the Republic of Ireland this is a complex exploration though mapping and use of found material of a particular theme expressed in discreet drawings.                         >>>>>>>>>                      

     


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  • Drawing is in a state of flux.  Its raised popularity accompanied by uncertainty about what constitutes this art-form.  It is being challenged. The selections for Sketch continue to challenge the concept of what a sketchbook should be and what it is for.

    One searches for intimacy and authenticity, questioning the role that these notebooks play in an artist’s practice. Are they a process in themselves or pages once drawn forgotten until that rare occasion when you flick back through them?  As aide memoires they always have the ability to transfer you back to a precise time and place. Anne Desmet’s people and places, visual notes of meetings, evidence a sketchbook as constant companion.  A diary of sorts, Richard Baker’s sketchbook reveals a serious exploration of an idea.  It records the passage of time in page after page of carefully controlled oil colour studies contained within the same size rectangle. 

    Chris Gilbert’s sketchbook is an example of the received concept of what a sketchbook should be.  His carefully observed pencil studies of particular landscapes are very much in the classical tradition of Constable or Claude.  Development and observation are presented by Richard Eastwood whose little abstract colour experiments segue into lively figure studies of Poussin’s A Dance to the Music of Time in the Wallace Collection in London.

    The two fattest sketchbooks, gloriously rich and full of dark seductive surfaces are by Laura Hudson.  Torn paper shapes, edges darkened by charcoal are collaged or used as stencils to create a negative central space. Barbara Sykes' Fictional Heads is a focused exploration of one theme: smudged colour and essential line tracing lips, part of an eye the edge of an ear.  These damaged bruised drawings are a poignant examination of the nature of the human condition.                                                             >>>>>>>>