Roy Eastland 'Displaced Portraits'

Ani­ma Mun­di are delight­ed to present Roy East­land’s Dis­placed Portraits’

For the past few years, I’ve been working on a series of small silverpoint drawings which I’ve called: ‘Displaced Portraits’. It’s an ongoing project which I leave and come back to over and over again. My output, in terms of finished works of art, is excruciatingly slow.

These drawings are based on images of unknown people (unknown to me), who were photographed, mostly in Germany, in the 1930s and 40s, who’s photos found their way into my hands via a second-hand shop in Cliftonville, Margate (my home town). I’ve found them all separately and at different times, and I have no reason to suppose that any of these people knew each other.

Each drawing is repeatedly re-worked over the course of months and sometimes years. None of my drawings are ever really finished. These are drawn with points of silver wire and with needles, scalpel blades and sandpaper on to a primed gesso surface. They are sometimes worked to destruction. So be it. ‘Finishing’ these drawings isn’t necessary for me. In any case, these are not straight forward copies of pre-existing images. Details change in the course of the repeated re-working.

I want something extra to emerge through the act of drawing. My habit of partially obliterating and then re-drawing, over and over again, is a way to conjure something in the drawings which I could not have foreseen.

I wonder why I draw this way? Why do I draw these people? I wonder who I have drawn here?

The original photographs are snap shot traces of moments when a person remained still for a moment in their life. My drawings take time and the act of drawing them is a kind of meditation on traces of lived moments. Drawings – hand-made, physically present drawings – are traces of time, touch and presence.

A drawing is a displaced thing, the physical traces of thoughts, perceptions, decisions, indecision and changes of mind. Drawings bring other moments into our presence whenever we spend time to look at them. Drawings are never just images or copies of images: their physical presence is always a kind of memory.

Roy Eastland