Karen Wallis – Artist in Residence at Drawn, RWA

On Tuesday 30th April I visited the Drawn show at the RWA in Bristol and had the pleasure of meeting artist in residence, Karen Wallis. Karen had asked me to talk about the two drawings which I had submitted for the show, Veil of Fog and Incarcerated. The drawings explore the historic mooring of prison hulks on the Medway and Thames estuaries in the 1800’s and on a more visceral level, wander into territories about the seduction of historical material, memorialising, imposition of self, impossibility of the past in a tangible form and distance.

Using a recording device, Karen began a dialogue with me about the work. It was the first time that I had actually been in focused conversation about the work. Previously I had discussed the development of the Incarcerated series with my friend and ceramicist Ken Eastman but this was a new experience. It was actually a lovely thing to be able to re-engage with the work and to see it in the gallery setting anew. Ultimately the drawings, though they depict what was probably a more brutal period in our history, lend themselves to quiet and restrained responses. For me, exploring the subject was rather like being inside a modern glass office building where there were distant events being played out but they were muffled by triple glazed, sealed viewing platforms.

Karen then asked me to view the rest of the show and to discuss individual drawings that I liked which was hard to narrow down with so many interesting and original drawings in the show. The show had clearly attracted many excellent artists who were developing drawing through unusual techniques or concepts that were really expanding the notion of drawing. To be in such a show is privilege. 


Karen in her residency studio with some of her explorations


Kinetic Drawing Machine by Debbie Locke


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