Catalogue entry

Colin Self b.1941

T01580 Corvette Engine and Model 1965

Inscribed ‘Colin Self 16–May ‘65’ b.l.
Pencil and crayon on card, 22 1/16x 15 5/16 (56.1 x 39).
Purchased from Lambeth Arts Limited (Gytha Trust) 1972.
Coll: Mark Glazebrook; Lambeth Arts Limited.
Exh: Piccadilly Gallery, November–December 1965 (4, repr.).

The artist wrote (letter of 4 June 1974): ‘The drawing “Corvette Engine and Model” was made either very early or in spring 1965 when my wife Margaret, daughter Jacqueline and I lived in Tivoli Road, Hornsey, London. I used mainly the sitting room to draw in... I sat in the front bay window with the drawing board resting on the window shelf, listening to either Wimbledon tennis, cricket or Radio London on the radio, occasionally looking up the road directly opposite us, watching people coming and going and especially feeling the changes of light through the day, twilight of a clear day after hard but relatively relaxed drawing being a favourite time.

‘During this year in London many drawings have a glamour and romantic feel which in retrospect, I now realise, sadly vanished after our return to Norwich after my 1965 US tour.’

The drawing shows part of the engine of the American sports car, the Chevrolet Corvette, which was first produced in 1964, and behind a model wearing a trouser-suit and glasses designed by Courrèges for the spring 1965 fashion season. The image of the Courrèges model is derived from a fashion photograph published in the Sunday Times, Colour Supplement, 7 March 1965.

The artist wrote: ‘The drawing is influenced by two photos smaller than the drawing. The car engine was, I believe from a Hot-Rod magazine.’ A similar drawing was made at the same time but not from these photos and the model wasn’t completely finished. (In my collection). The drawings don’t relate to any other series.

‘I felt no definite theory or pattern about fashion or cars but subject matter would fall into patterns in an unconscious way. Perhaps what I felt was a regimented feel in this fashion and matched it with an engine but the next drawing could equally have had a dress of flowing lace.’

‘The outfit struck me at the time as beautiful. I remember how closely the sunglasses resembled wooden carved Eskimo snow goggles.

‘I found the Corvette Engine a little flimsy looking at the time. I’d wanted a more stark engine but couldn’t find a photo.

‘I don’t think this drawing was especially Americanised but the influences were in European culture at the time.’

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1972–1974, London 1975.