From the Art Department From the Art Department From the Art Department From the Art Department

From the Art Department

The painting and drawing studio is a riot of colour this week, with a vase of tulips on every table, set up for the Third Form to paint from last Monday morning as a part of their Flora and Fauna project. A truly cheering uplift for ‘Blue Monday’.

The new exhibition ‘Playing the Waiting Game’ is up and looking good. The main exhibition is the work of Christine Egan-Fowler, as mentioned in last week’s newsletter, but I though that I would expand a little here on the background to this collaboration.

For at least 25 years I have been taking a yearly weekend life drawing trip to an adult education centre and community called Monkton Wyld, which is housed in a beautiful manor and farm near Lyme Regis. I hire the venue, and a tutor, David Bernson, and organise for a professional life model to pose for us. David is an artist who, long ago, trained at the Camden Working Men’s Club with the famous early 20th century artist Cecil Collins, and learned from him a way of drawing that is part eastern, part western, very meditative and spiritual. We draw using very elemental materials such as charcoal and clay, bamboo pens and quills, Chinese ink and brushes. The poses are quick, no more than 5 minutes, and we draw using both hands simultaneously. It is a fabulous experience, and students always return with a portfolio of wonderful drawings. This year’s drawings form the basis of Sidcot’s part of the exhibition.

Another artist, Meriel Gold who also trained with Cecil Collins, has also been teaching his technique for many years, often using a model whose name is Morag Donnelly. Morag learned the technique from Meriel, and now teaches classes as well as modelling.

A few years ago I went on one of Morag’s classes – she can be found on the internet (https://lifelinearts.wordpress.com) – and was very interested in the way her teaching had developed and grown; differently from Davids, but from the same root.

In Morag’s workshops, we draw on a large scale, using roles of lining paper, using wet clay, sticks and bones and stones and other materials. Morag often still poses herself, dancing, sometimes with a musician improvising on a cello. At any point in her dance one of the class will ask her to hold or freeze, and she will keep whatever pose she is in as long as she can, which may be seconds, or minutes. Often the drawings will morph one into another. Sometimes the dance includes a second model. The whole experience is wonderful, and about so much more than just drawing.

I invited Morag to run a weekend workshop at Sidcot School, which Christine Egan-Fowler attended. Morag has also subsequently posed for our Monkton weekend.

Christine then took elements of this technique, and introduced it to her students at the Royal Grammar School in Newcastle, in the weekly life drawing sessions that she runs.

The exhibition includes our students drawings from Monkton, my own drawings from Morag’s workshop, and work from RGS Sixth Form students, alongside Christine’s own work recently exhibited at the BALTIC centre in Gateshead.

Ross Wallis
Head of Creative Arts Faculty

Independent day and boarding school for boys and girls aged 3 - 18 in Somerset