Joseph Mallord William Turner, ‘A Barn and Cottages’ 1792
Joseph Mallord William Turner
A Barn and Cottages 1792

Drawn from Turner

Brian Chalkley, Chelsea College of Art and Design   

Brian Chalkley is currently Course Director of the MA Fine Art and Postgraduate Diploma Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art & Design. He studied at Chelsea College of Art (1969-73) before taking his Masters Degree at the Slade School of Fine Art (1973-75). In 1987 he was a prizewinner in the John Moores Liverpool Exhibition 15. In 1989 he was awarded a six months residency at the British School at Rome and in 1991 was an invited speaker at the Judgement and Excess lecture series at the R.C.A organised by Diana Petherbridge. His work has featured in two publications in 2005: In a Queer Place and Time by Judith Halberstam (New York University Press) and Journeys in The Performance of Sex Art (Maska Publications by Libidot). He is currently working towards a one-person show of Painting in November. 

Brian Chalkley After Turner Cottages and a Barn with a Mountain Beyond:

Brian Chalkley
After Turner Cottages and a Barn with a Mountain Beyond: 1792–3

The invitation to work from a Turner drawing became an experience that was similar to being accosted by a stranger late at night in Hackney. I was totally unprepared for what was about to take place. 

I recently visited Rychovic in Croatia and was walking along the Passijatta one bright sunny morning after a row with Christine, when I happened to glance down at the pavement. A Mont Blanc Biro lay on the ground in front of me. Its crafted silver and blackness appeared like some beautiful exotic object of desire. I picked it up and pocketed it with apprehension, expecting to hear a shout of ownership, but nothing. 

When the invitation came to work from a Turner drawing, I thought it was time to put a Mont Blanc biro I had found in Croatia to use. The medium of Biro in relation to the drawing process seemed sufficiently irreverent to give me, chance to do something, with this ‘high culture’ artwork. The experience started slavishly, trying to build a relationship with what was in front of me. The marks gradually became more fluid, more precise and eventually took on an identity of their own in relation to what I was looking at. This experience doesn’t come very often but the location, the silence, and the work became a consuming experience which I will never forget.