Draw to look

I usually draw landscapes; a river through a moor, a mountainous horizon, a quiet harbour.

I draw to dwell in a place and out of affection.

Observational drawing to me seems like a practice of attention, that has little to do with skill and everything to do with looking and time.

What do we cultivate when we pay attention? when we spend time with someone? when we choose to look?

I wanted to make a performance on drawing that brought out its sense of occasion.

For ‘Draw To Look’, a new one-on-one performance and evolving exhibition, I am currently building a bespoke drawing desk made for the particular drawing exercise; draw without looking at the paper. I love this exercise and do it all of the time, it’s common place within life drawing and allows you to pay attention to the subject by letting go of your pressures, doubts and niggles about what your drawing looks like. I feel that so much is lost when people are told they can’t draw, and this exercise frees us from the judgement that crushes creativity. For this desk I will make a short one-on-one performance where myself and an audience member will draw each other, in the main gallery at the RWA…the rest is a secret.



Ink leads to liquid looking.

It falls and glides with pleasurable ease.

My look pools in the dip about your eye, loiters,

Then rolls of the edge and follows fast the curve of your chin.

You become a surface to scramble over,

And I am the mountain stream.


Lead leads my looking to be sharp and keen.

It seeks out cracks and nooks, details to study.

My look is committed and close,

You are microscopic.

And this unravelling look, feels like choosing a pebble from a pebble beach,

Rolling it around in my hand, then putting it back.


Charcoal drags my look about.

It pushes up the climb of your forehead and pulls down the scale of your nose.

It scoops you out like clay, so I see weight, shape, shadow.

You are moulded, malleable but resistant,

like the cliffs shaped by the sea.


  • My notebook, January 2017, at Cove Park.


DRAW TO LOOK, 2nd April, 23rd April, 7th May, at RWA, Bristol.

For info > http://www.rwa.org.uk/whats-on/draw-look-0

For booking > http://www.drawtolook.eventbrite.co.uk

Draw To Look is presented in association with MAYK and supported by Royal West of England Academy and Arts Council England. With Thanks to Loft 6D, Interval, Cove Park, and the writings of John Berger and Tania Kovats.

Featured Image by Paul White.

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