A couple of weeks back my friend, a runner and female of a similar age kindly agreed to do a photo shoot and model some particular poses based on stretches we would perform after running. I now have about 150 photos to work from (should keep me quiet for a while). As I’ve said before I want to combine these figurative drawings/paintings with my prints of pebbles or other abstract colours/patterns connected to the landscape. This is about women being strong and healthy and proud of their bodies and using them on their own terms. As I embark on this project, I am conscious of the history surrounding paintings of the female nude (from the male gaze) and how I need to ensure my images are perceived differently, not sure how I will communicate that yet.
Having a friend pose has introduced a dilemma about ethics into my work; normally my life drawings are pinned up on my walls so that I can evaluate/critique them. When I’ve been to a public life drawing session, I take it as read that the model is comfortable being seen nude in public and they are also anonymous to my friends and family. However, a friend modelling presented a different issue, especially as I have photos in my care; is it ok to pin those images to the wall? I decided I should get her permission first and we agreed that photos would remain safeguarded but that drawings could be displayed.
This confirms that there is a difference between a photo and a drawing/painting, which is somehow one step removed. A drawing/painting gives something different to a photo, it provides an interpretation, an expression, something additional to mere fact
Last weekend I visited Hull; the Maritime Museum and Ferens Art Gallery. There was a good exhibition called “Portraits of the Sea” by www.danlhall.com in which he had drawn men who had spent their lives in jobs related to the sea (Trawlermen, Navy, Fish Market/processing, the Social Club owner etc). It was a interesting documentary style exhibition with the drawings almost like passport photographs in their presentation and monotone colouring. I thought it was a shame that the stories of the Women in the Industry or women who would have been on the periphery (eg wives) weren’t represented.
The museum also houses one of the largest collections of Scrimshaw; women were depicted heavily here, the images suggest they were copied from cigarette cards or printed images.
Finally, the work of Ian McKeever was on show at the Ferens Gallery and a small selection of his “Portrait of a woman” series which appropriates postcards or images of portrait paintings, overpainted and framed in triptych by side panels of colour.