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Bill Woodrow: Life drawing masterclass

Tate invited well-known artists to teach a life drawing masterclass

Warning: Contains nudity

Bill Woodrow has dedicated the past four decades to rethinking themes of intersections and transformations. His work has examined the uneasy relationships between humans and the natural world, as well as the destabilized balance of history and contemporary events. Since his student days at St Martin's School of Art and his first show in 1972 at the Whitechapel Gallery, Woodrow has exhibited in solo shows around the world.

transcription

Drawing is incredibly important to my total practice, but I think underling all that, the basis of all these things is looking, understanding and having some way of recording your understanding of that thing that you’re looking at.

Right I’m going to walk round and give each of you a number, just starting at the top; it’s just a way of dividing into pairs. One, two, three, four, each one of the pair will be in a separate part of the room. But the one who can actually see the model will be instructing the other person by telephone, about what to do and what to draw. I think the thing about this is to try and be precise about your verbal communication and you’re going from a verbal communication to a visual language so there’s this crossover between the two.

So I’m just going to give you an overall description and then it curves down and his shins are almost level.

It’s quite in line with his back in terms of direction although it’s a bit lower.

In the middle of the paper, two marks indicating where the legs of the chairs, where the back legs of the chair are.

Okay, time to wind up, that’s it. What we’re going to do with this is going to be no verbal communication, no photographs, just text. Okay what’s crucial for the observers is that you get as much information in as possible, not just about the model but about surroundings because that might be crucial to whoever is receiving the message and to what they might do.

Think carefully about your words, that they have to be translated into a different language. You are going to make a drawing from the information that you get on the screen. Observational drawing, it doesn’t have to be from a life model it can be anything. One of things I wanted to get you to think about today was how useful observational drawing is. All that I would want to say today is do as much of it as you can in your own way. I think it’s great to have a foundation under anything you do which is based on absolute understanding of something that you’re looking at, and the form of it and drawing is a great way of doing that. Thanks for your attention and your time.

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