Jerwood Drawing Prize Exhibition – Battleaxe takes a view

Before we get onto art, a thought about weather… Walking in the Country Park this morning, the glare of the sun on the sea was so bright I could scarcely open my eyes.  Yesterday was dark, miserable and damp, and Thursday was one of the worst days I can remember since we came to Hastings – howling raging gale all night and then all day, the house moaning and wailing like Hollywood ghosts, great soaking waves of rain just lashing out of the sky.  Philosopher was in town – he went to catch the bus back from Robertson Street and men had taken apart the bus shelter to mend it.  He was absolutely totally drenched. When we were in Birmingham, the weather was not nearly so noticeable.  Here, every morning when I draw back the curtains and look down at the sea, it is a new adventure.
     Yesterday we went to the Jerwood Gallery to view the Jerwood Drawing Prize Exhibition. Coffee first -amazing wild views from the cafe of huge waves – sheets of water pouring over the harbour arm.

     Had a good look at the drawings – a very long look by our standards, because it was too wet to go out.  I tried to photograph the ones I liked but was told off by the attendant, who then watched me beadily. I don’t know why, these days, they get so worked up about photo taking. Lots of people must snap away on mobile phones – putting something in a public exhibition is now a bit like putting something on the internet. I can understand if you don’t want camera flashes going off all the time so it spoils others’ views, and damages priceless paintings etc., but the gallery was light enough not to need flash. However, I will, presumably illegally, reproduce one or two. I have just Googled up Jerwood Drawing Prize to see if they give a definition of drawing (see below) and was faced with pages of images, including a good few from this exhibition, so I don’t feel so bad.
     The first thing that indeed puzzled me was what do they define as drawing?  I think of it as shapes and lines on paper made with a pencil or brush, usually monochrome.  However, there were lots of pictures in colour, one photograph, a thing made of a spiral bound notebook with the wire unravelled, a sculpture of large nails. some odd bits of wood, and a little heap of stones on the floor, with what appeared to be postage stamps stuck on them – I was so busy trying to avoid the attendant’s eye that I nearly kicked them over.. Also, some animations on screens, with sound on headphones – is that drawing?  The Jerwood website said that the judging panel would decide what items counted as drawing – they must have argued themselves silly.
     The winner was an animation – scratchy pencil drawings of dogs and people jigging about.  It reminded me of something very strongly – the Philosopher gave me the answer – the cartoon series our kids used to watch, Roobarb and Custard.  Yes, I know they were pink and green, and this was black and white, but the jumpy effect was the same. Another prize winner was a stack of pieces of board on the floor with black circles – or were they balloons – painted onto them – eh?
     The Philosopher was a bit sniffy about the whole thing, said it was all ‘highly derivative’. I was so pleased to see some items I could actually understand in one of the Jerwood’s exhibitions that I wasn’t too critical.

I like this pillow. It is – simply – a pillow.

 These hairs – if hairs they are – look decidedly pubic.

 This was not in the exhibition – it is the Jerwood’s Christmas tree. I like the way the ends of the bits of wood are painted to resemble baubles.

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