Draw no conclusion at Jerwood’s gallery

I went into the Jerwood thinking that I knew the meaning of ‘drawing’, but came out knowing that my definition was far too narrow. Between those states of mind I enjoyed a surprising variety of artworks, in a range of media.

Search Me by Lisa Milroy.  Photo: Mike Fear SUS-140728-143418001
Search Me by Lisa Milroy. Photo: Mike Fear SUS-140728-143418001

‘Drawn Together’ offers no conclusions on definition, and its contributors, who have all been involved in judging the annual Jerwood Drawing Prize, would probably struggle to agree on one.

Timothy Hyman’s preparatory sketches for larger artworks and Sarah Simblet’s beautiful pencil drawings of trees came closest to my expectations, but Lisa Milroy’s 3D representation of the contents of her handbag (pictured) was literally off the wall.

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With so many RAs on show there were some styles which have become rather too familiar at the Academy’s summer exhibitions, but here, seeing less finished examples from Eileen Cooper and Anthony Green gave a freshness to the experience of their work.

There was plenty to think about too.Emma Talbot’s ‘The Flower of Strood’ appeared to be a compilation of the hopes and (mainly) fears of a girl growing up. I saw hints of Tracey Emin and Grayson Perry, in her words and images, but also a unique and expressive drawing style.

However, I failed to grasp the ideas behind Paul Thomas’s ‘Parting Gifts’ and Peter de Francia’s ‘Discovering the Real World’. Both were intriguing images, nonetheless.

In a separate room, part-time Hastings resident Quentin Blake presents his responses to ten paintings in the Jerwood’s collection.

After the rather serious tone of the main show, I was soon smiling at Blake’s affectionate caricatures of fellow artists, each set in the context of the nearby beach.

Display cases have some of Blake’s preliminary drawings, and there’s a wonderful image of artists who’ve landed like a flock of seagulls to take advantage of the Stade’s picturesque possibilities.

Upstairs, the paintings Blake refers to are on display, and there’s a fine view through the picture window of that jumble of boats and paraphernalia on the beach.

Both shows continue until October.