The resumption of drawing in an art institution might not surprise you, indeed you may expect it, but until recently it was controversial. Drawing had been out of favour for some time and this discipline was seen as outdated and wholly unnecessary for a career in art and design. It got quite heated, the notion that a life model drawing class might be found in the building was often dismissed and derided. I am delighted to see that it has returned, because what always bothered me was how students would learn to look and to see? Because whatever discipline you develop the first key skill an artist requires is visual.
Drawing at Colchester School of Art, where I began my creative career with an art foundation course, was taken seriously. I was taught by some of the best the Art Foundation was then two years, and we moved between disciplines, from sculpture and painting, to pottery, textiles, graphics, jewellery, and industrial design. Central to all of this was our instruction in looking and seeing, through drawing. Life classes were two evenings a week and outdoor drawing one morning a week. I feel privileged to have been taught by some exceptional tutors (Richard Bawden, Phillip Ardizonne, Brian Knight, and Richard Godfrey.) Life and outdoor drawing were considered essential disciplines with a lot of time devoted to them. I am fortunate in having been taught to draw, but also how to look and how to see. Drawing itself is a fascinating gestural, visual, and interpretive process that combines, body, brain, eye, and aesthetic.
That close observation and critical questioning has remained in my practice as a writer. Trained to apply intense visual scrutiny to my subject it has encouraged me to become a visual and psychological archaeologist, to look behind the obvious closely observing the structure and the veiled, the unsaid and the unwittingly disclosed. Writing requires all the senses, hearing is important, patterns and rhythms of speech also matter, it is the complexity of writing that fascinates and intrigues me, and it is the visual that is my starting point.