The Art of Drawing
Ahead of our upcoming exhibition, The Drawing Room, which celebrates drawing and works on paper, we are featuring Hannah Tilson in this month’s spotlight with an interview on her relationship with this medium.
Photo Credit: Joseph Ironmonger
Drawing is a beautiful artform that has increased in popularity during recent years. Drawing is a vital part of an artist's creative process; in fact all artistic expressions require some element of drawing. Drawing is not only limited to preparatory work, but can absolutely be a work of art in its own right. The beauty of this medium is the way it can allow the artist to feel more spontaneous and liberated, allowing for experimentation and development in their practice. Drawing offers a raw glimpse into the artist’s true sense of selse, giving the viewer a chance to understand their work better.
The genuinity and movement in drawing make these works truly extraordinary, and a great contribution to anyone's art collection.
Hannah is currently attending The Royal School of Drawing, since completing her Bachelors in Painting from the Slade School of Fine Art in 2018. Hannah’s work is a colourful range of mix-media, where she overloads the viewer with information through the clashing of patterns and forms. She is currently working on a series of intimate self-portraits made with bright colours and vivid patterns, elevating ordinary objects and placing herself in a vibrating space filled with pattern. We will be exhibiting three of these self portraits in The Drawing Room in 2021.
Interview with Hannah
BB: ARE THERE ANY ARTISTS YOU LOOK TO FOR WHOM DRAWING IS AN INTEGRAL PART OF THEIR PRACTICE?
HT: Toyin Ojih Odutola
Zoe Francis Spowage
Njideka Akunyili Crosby
BB: WHO OR WHAT INSPIRES YOU THE MOST?
HT: Textiles/patterns, cooking for friends, books, seeing art in the flesh (when we are allowed!), playing music. I am in a band called ‘This Is The Deep’, where I play trombone and sing alongside 6 friends. We have an A/A single out which you can find on Spotify/ Apple Music, and we have another single and an LP coming out early this year on B3SCI Records in LA, which we are very excited about! Having both of these creative outlets is important for me as it keeps me on my toes and each one feeds off the other.
BB: HOW HAS YOUR EXPERIENCE AT THE ROYAL DRAWING SCHOOL IMPACTED YOUR PRACTICE?
HT: Doing the Drawing Year has hugely impacted my practice. I feel very lucky to be there, I am constantly inspired by my year and it is a very special place. Drawing has always been an important part of my practice, but before the Drawing Year it was much more ‘behind the scenes’. Taking the time to focus primarily on one skill has been really important for me. I feel more confident with my hand, which is allowing me to be more confident with my painting!
BB: IN PARTICULAR THE FOCUS THE SCHOOL HAS ON OBSERVATIONAL DRAWING, HAS THIS BEEN A TURNING POINT FOR YOU?
HT: When I was doing my BA at the Slade I spent a term, on exchange, at the New York Studio School. The NYSS is a very traditional life drawing school. During my first two weeks there I took part in the Drawing Marathon where you draw life models for 10 hours (ish) a day. I then took Ophrah Shemesh’s drawing class and was in Margrit Lewczuk and John Newman’s Atelier.
This was my first real turning point for me, doing a mixture of strict observational drawing in class, mixed with having my own studio time. I have had a similar experience at the Drawing School and have really enjoyed throwing myself into doing intense observational drawing alongside making my own personal work in the studio.
BB: SELF PORTRAITS SEEM TO BE A SUBJECT MATTER YOU OFTEN DEPICT, WHAT IS IT ABOUT THEM THAT KEEPS YOU COMING BACK?
HT: Over lockdown 1.0 I made my first self portrait. I found that during a time where everything feels very out of your control, it has felt liberating to be in control of painting an image of myself.
BB: WHAT DO YOU THINK IS DIFFERENT ABOUT DRAWING THAT OTHER MEDIUMS DON'T HAVE?
HT: For me, drawing feels more free and it allows me to take more risks. Often the most exciting pieces of work come when you’ve taken a risk and a piece has taken an unexpected turn.
BB: DO YOU THINK DRAWING IS BECOMING MORE APPRECIATED AS A MEDIUM?
HT: Yes, I think (and hope) so! Studying at the drawing school, I am in this amazing bubble of people who really love to draw. We are lucky, in London, to have ‘The Drawing Room’ in Elephant and Castle, they always have amazing drawing exhibitions on show. In the last year or so I have seen more exhibitions focusing primarily on drawing, which is inspiring and hopeful.
BB: HOW HAVE YOU COPED WITH THE PANDEMIC AND HOW HAS IT IMPACTED YOUR WORK?
HT: The pandemic has hugely impacted my work, prior to it I had never made a self portrait before! I found myself away from my world that I was used to drawing/ making work in and had to seek inspiration from elsewhere. I ended up setting up theatrical sets in my room, hanging patterned fabrics, lighting them and painting self portraits while sitting in them. I have learnt a lot about myself by making these self portraits and have found drawing to be a very grounding thing to have, during a very turbulent time!
BB: WHAT IS YOUR ROUTINE LIKE, WHAT IS A DAY IN THE LIFE OF HANNAH?
HT: I am spending most of my days in the studio at the moment, preparing for my end of exhibitions which are opening in March. We will have one in Christies, one in the school in Shoreditch and a studio exhibition just off London Fields.
I bought an advent candlelender (this is what I am calling it, it is an advent calendar in candle form, so the idea is you burn down about 2cm each day until Christmas.) I found myself really enjoying this ritual of watching time pass with a candle. So I have started lighting a candle in the studio, to mark my time working there. I got some candles that burn for 6-8 hours, and am finding it is a much nicer way to tell the time rather than checking my phone/waiting for it to get dark at 2pm!
I listen to audiobooks/spotify while I work. Two of my favourites from last year were ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ by Delia Owens and ‘Kitchen’ by Banana Yoshimoto. Then i go home and cook/read/watch tv and sleep!
BB: AND FINALLY, PLEASE TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT THE PIECES YOU WILL BE EXHIBITING IN THE DRAWING ROOM.
HT: These three portraits were made at different points over 2020. The first one was painted during the initial lockdown. I looked back at it and made the second one in the Summer, when we had a little more freedom, and the last one was made before Christmas after I recovered from Covid. They feel like markers for me throughout my year and I am excited to see what I will make in 2021!