Sunday, 21 May 2017

Sketchbook show opens at Rabley Drawing Centre


The opening of the Sketch 2017 exhibition of 100 artists' sketchbooks at the Rabley Drawing Centre in Wiltshire was unlike any I had been to before. And I mean that in a good way. Apart from a few fragile sketchbooks behind glass, they could all be picked up and leafed through, some placed on shelves around the wall, others in a multi-sided bookcase. That sounds dangerous for a packed private view, and so precautions were taken: no drinks in the room with the books, and protective gloves for everyone handling the books. (But gloves or no gloves? There's a debate about which is best.)

I have two sketchbooks in the show, one A6 sized (above) and one A5

Sketchbooks, perhaps because they close shut, seem to demand an invitation from the owner before they are studied. To go unbidden between the covers of someone's sketchbook feels like an invasion of privacy. But here, deliciously, were 100 sketchbooks – two of them mine – declared free for consumption. We all worked our way around the room, flicking gently through the pages with gloved hands.


A lot of those people present were the 70 represented artists keen to see how others fill the pages of their books. The diversity was marked. Sketchbooks come in so many sizes and formats, homemade and shop-bought, huge and tiny, pristine and studio-scarred, stuffed and minimal, observational and experimental. If we say there is an average of 40 images in each sketchbook, that means the modestly sized gallery at Rabley Drawing Centre currently has about 4,000 works of art to examine.

How would this have compared with viewing the sketchbooks digitally? Much of the enjoyment of the show was the weight and feel of a book in the hands, the textures and smells even of the mediums used and fixatives added, and the chatter and interaction as people mixed around the room. Seeing them digitally would be better than not seeing them at all, but it would be a different experience.

The exhibition continues at Rabley Drawing Centre, which is near Marlborough in Wiltshire, until 17 June, before it goes on tour. There's more information about the tour and participating artists here.


Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Selected for Sketch Open 2017


I'm happy to say I've had a couple of sketchbooks selected to be shown in the Sketch Open 2017 drawing prize exhibition at Rabley Drawing Centre, near Marlborough, Wiltshire. The show of 100 books starts there in May, and then goes on tour. I'm grateful to be included in such great company.

Rabley Drawing Centre, Marlborough, 21 May-17 June 2017
Black Swan Arts, Frome, 22 July-3 September 2017
Plymouth College of Art, 9 September-6 October 2017
Peter Scott Gallery, Lancaster University, 20 November-15 December 2017


Friday, 3 March 2017

Routes through a sketchbook

One of the intriguing aspects of drawing in a sketchbook is how, assuming the book is drawn in from front to back in chronological order, a narrative builds up over time. I did this, then I went there, then I drew that. The thread of your life unwinds, sometimes accurately and comprehensively, sometimes less so. Images may fall into an order that seems rather haphazard, but that is the order in which events unfolded. The travel sketchbooks hold together best: such as the one that contains the drawings of a Spanish seaside town over 20 consecutive pages that we visited one summer, or the evolving journey taken on a drive south towards the sun. A theme can build up, but this isn't always so.

James Hobbs, Hampstead Heath, London

Most of my sketchbooks, however, contain drawings gathered sporadically over time depending on where I find myself with a chance to draw. They are usually drawings of London, because that is where I live. But London is lots of places, not one. Subjects leap about from one page to the next. Drawings are in the book because there was the time and opportunity to draw each one, rather than because of a specific goal to consciously record every step of every day. That may be the way some people work, but not me.

 James Hobbs, the Embassy of Ecuador, London, home to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange
All of the drawings in this post are in one incomplete sketchbook from this year. All are of inner London, some almost rural, others overtly politcal, or architectural, or both. The demonstration by Downing Street captures a local moment (the newly inaugurated President Trump's travel ban) of an international movement that will perhaps be remembered in 50 years' time. A few pages away is a drawing of a group of trees on the edge of Hampstead Heath that hold no such significance at all. They happened to be there when I had the chance to draw. I simply liked the way the composition fitted together and how they let me play with the kinds of marks the winter foliage suggested.

James Hobbs, the view east from Tate Modern's Switchhouse
And so life zigzags its way along. Embedded in each drawing are the deeper stories that perhaps only I, and my friends and family, will recognise, such as why I was somewhere, and who I was with. We choose what we draw, and we choose what we don't. Perhaps the real significance of what ends up in our sketchbooks only becomes truly apparent years after we have filled them.
James Hobbs, Downing Street, London:
a march against Trump's travel ban

There are more of my drawings on Instagram and you can follow me on Twitter.



Monday, 27 February 2017

Two things: a Dutch book and a magazine

Pen and Ink is out in Dutch now, published by Librero. You can buy it here. It features the drawings of 34 artists from around the globe, who all, surprise surprise, use pen and ink in one way or another. It was published in the UK (Frances Lincoln) in 2016, and also in French, German, Spanish and Portuguese.

The second thing is that I have an article about sketchcrawls (that means getting together to draw on location as a group) in the April 2017 issue of the Artist magazine, out now. There's a link to the article here.

You can see more of my drawings @jameshobbsart.



Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Inside York Minster


We're back from a family weekend break in York, having met up with Daughter 1, who is studying at Newcastle University. There is a lot of history to encounter in York, and we intersperse the tourist things with cafes and cake, like you do.


We brave the walk around the city walls in winds and stuttering sleet, and warm up (relatively speaking) in the minster. The 16th-century Rose Window (top image), which I drew to the atmospheric soundtrack of choral evensong, survived fire damage in 1984 after the minster was struck by lightning. The building's stained glass windows – some up to 600 years old – are amazing, casting light onto the stonework even in these wintry days.


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Monday, 16 January 2017

New drawing show opens in Soho


I have a few works in a new small show of drawings and digital prints at Timberyard Soho, which continues into the spring of 2017. Here I am with fellow exhibitors Nick Richards, Isabel Carmona, Jo Dungey and Isabelle Laliberté.
Timberyard Soho (it has won so many awards it's impossible to list them all here) is at 4 Noel Street, London W1F 8GB, close to Brewer Street and Oxford Street. Our thanks to Darren and his great team at Timberyard for inviting us to show again. Works are for sale.
How to find Timberyard Soho.
Opening times and more info here.
Me on Instagram.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Search by Image

Inspired by Sebasian Schmieg's exhibition Search by Image at the Photographers' Gallery, London (until 29 January 2017), I've been doing image searches for some of my drawings. (Schmieg's show uses speeded up Google image searches so that visually similar views are shown almost as videos, merging and flipping through themes.) My own more laborious process threw up intriguing similarities such as these. Find Search by Image here. Have a go.

New construction work in Shoe Lane, London:


And its most visually similar images, are below.


And here's Woodberry Wetlands wildlife reserve in north London:


...and a sample of its most similar images found through Google's Search by Image.
 
Let's hear it for algorithms and metadata.

Follow me at @jameshobbsart.