A couple of weeks ago I received a message on Face Book, from a chap called Kit. He had sent this photo of a drawing ….. and asked whether I could confirm if it was one of mine. He had picked it up in a charity shop and it had a label on the back, saying that it was by me. As you can imagine, it was a bit of a surprise as on first inspection, it didn’t appear to be anything that I had done.
I looked at the image closely ….or as closely as I can these days and although there were certainly some similarities in some of the marks, the broader ink lines didn’t seem like something I’d do…….certainly not now or any time in the last twenty years. That said however, there was something about it, something that seemed familiar, somewhere back in my memory.
In the end however, I decided that I should get back to Kit and say that it probably wasn’t by me and if it was, then it was an early piece done sometime after leaving college in 1983. I explained that at the time and indeed for a good number of years, I had very little money and could not afford to photograph virtually any of my work …. no digital cameras then, just expensive film and processing. I was working as a sculptor in the 1980’s and doing a large number of drawings and very little of this work was recorded. I also said that I sold very little work in those days but did give pieces away at times. If it was one of my drawings then it was probably one of these pieces and done when I had a studio in Newcastle upon Tyne or a little later when I was based in Shrewsbury. More than that I couldn’t really say.
Kit got back to me to say that this actually started to make a bit more sense as he was based in Newcastle. I looked at the drawing once again ….. and I started to think that I did recognise it, although quite how it had got to be in a charity shop in Newcastle after all these years …… I had no idea. I asked Nita to take a look and she suddenly said that it appeared to have an vague image of a horse in it. My gut reaction was that it couldn’t then be something by me ….I’m not or never have been a ‘horse’ person. But there was still that familiarity about the image. Then I remembered. One of the first pieces of work I made when I set up my studio in the old Exchange Building at the side of the Tyne Bridge, was a piece of sculpture based around the idea of a rocking horse …..and I did a lot of drawings at the time…. this would be one of them.
The thing that clinched it however was when Kit said that the drawing appeared to have been done on some strange kind of paper ….it had an orange plastic backing and a soft yellowing kind of surface. Sadly not a specialist kind of art paper or anything ….in fact, the complete opposite. As I said earlier, I was completely skint at the time and could barely afford to pay my studio rent and could certainly not afford to buy purpose made and expensive art materials. All my sculpture was constructed out of the contents of skips and on one occasion as I walked down one of the city centre roads towards my studio I spotted a skip full of lengths of old vinyl wall paper. It had been stripped from the walls as part of a big refurbishment and when I took a closer look, it had a wonderful soft paper backing …..perfect for drawing on. I spent a good time pulling all the strips of paper out of the skip and carefully rolling them. As it turned out, there was enough to last me several years and many of my drawings were done on this recycled paper. While I was pulling the paper out of the skip one of the builders came up to see what I was doing. When I told him that I was an artist and needed materials he promised to put anything else of use to one side for me. He was good as his word and over the next month or so I picked up plenty of timber for my sculpture.
So then, this drawing, created over 30 years ago, has re-surfaced. It’s kind of nice to think that it has survived all this time and that Kit has not only found it but got in touch with me and reminded me of the work. Hope you continue to enjoy the drawing Kit.