Drawn from Turner
Jeff Dennis, Chelsea College of Art and Design
Jeffrey Dennis was born in Colchester in 1958 and studied at the Slade School of Fine Art. He is currently a Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art & Design. He has exhibited internationally since 1979, including the British Art Show 3, 1990, regular shows in Milan and New York, and New Voices, an exhibition of contemporary British artists that toured worldwide 1991-7. His most recent solo exhibition was at Art Space Gallery, London, in May 2006.
His paintings embed glimpses of contemporary urban life within landscapes of processed peas, rotting fruit, Victorian wallpaper designs and, more recently, the bubblescape: an organic matrix that offers the potential for continual mutation and evolution.
A full biography may be found at http://www.jeffreydennis.co.uk/den-shortCV.html.
I was attracted to this drawing by its curious double-edged format, and the almost abstract approximation of the marks that conform, only with some difficulty, to a line of ships on the horizon, and waves breaking on the shore – a staccato stitching of masts, rigging and waves. This ‘encoding’ has apparently occurred out of expediency: one imagines Turner pausing briefly on a walk along the strandline, looking out to the horizon, scratching out the lines on a folded sheet pulled from his wallet, and then having a second attempt on the other half; responding to fast-moving tide, ships and weather.
Looking at the topsy-turvy sheet folded out, one is faced with clustered energy, like magnetically charged rain-clouds: reminiscent of Leonardo da Vinci’s drawing of a ‘Cloudburst of material possessions’.
Working from the drawing, I soon abandoned any attempt to transcribe Turner’s actual marks as futile and pointless: my task was to draw something that responded, in terms of nerve and movement to Turner’s.
Rachel Lowe is an artist whose work combines more traditional media such as drawing and painting, with video, super 8 film, photography and slide projections. She studied at Newcastle College of Arts and Technologies (1985-6) and Camberwell and Chelsea Colleges of Art (1987-90, and 1992-3). In 1997-8 she was the Wingate Artist in Residence at Southampton City Art Gallery and in 1999 she was joint winner of the Olay Vision Award for Women Artists. She exhibited in Becks Future 2002 and was the recipient of a Delfina Studio Award 2002-2004.
Having tried to pick one drawing, I chose three. Narrowing it down, I decided to try and combine two drawings which, despite sharing a subject matter, use very different means of depiction. One drawing is small, detailed and representational, the other more expansive and seems strangely contemporary, in that the marks make sense either way up.
By merging the two, the feeling of movement and fluidity of the original drawings becomes evident. In my finished drawing, I attempted to lose the boundaries; one flows into the other and the representational “vignette.
Sherine Osseiran, BA student, Chelsea College of Art and Design
Sherine Osserian was born in Lebanon and is currently a final year student on the BA Fine Art (Painting) course at Chelsea College of Art & Design. She previously studied painting in the Netherlands and Interior Design in Lebanon.
Tom Phillips RA, artist
Tom Phillips CBE RA is of the class of 1942 at Bonneville Road Primary School Clapham. He now lives and works in Peckham with occasional attachment to the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He is perhaps best known for his treated novel A Humument started in 1966 on which he is still working. His website www.tomphillips.co.uk fills in the gaps.
I am here transcribing as laboriously as can be imagined a fragment of a drawing by Turner done at his maximum speed. With its thousands of dots this is in effect a slow motion replay on a large scale analogous to what one sees on TV sport programmes. It highlights Turner’s most personal drawing shorthand whose urgent calligraphic brilliance first excited me when I looked at the original in the Print Room of the Tate’s Clore Gallery. I made pencil sketches on that occasion and was provided with a photograph. I worked up the pencil drawings by means of dots into a small vignette in negative. I made a xeroxed enlargement of this on to good paper and worked over the result with thousands more dots to capture the nuances of Turner’s pen work. Thus, roughly ten hours of my time represent an estimated ten seconds of Turner’s, as might be thought only fitting.