The annual Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize exhibition – virtual, of course, this year – includes plenty of drawings directly referencing the locked down circumstances of their making. But I was most taken by three artists who poignantly explore human relations in a more timeless manner, though all were made in 2020 and pick up an added inflection from the ongoing situation.
Nancy Haslam-Chance: Tea (top) and Teeth, 2020
Almost all artists need to earn from other sources, and Nancy Haslam-Chance also works as a carer – so combining the roles seen as the ‘most essential’ and ‘least essential’ in a well-publicised survey in June 2020. Her ‘Caring Drawings’ series make it clear she is good at both. ‘I am interested in the practicalities of these relationships’, she says ‘my clients require support and it is my job to support them. Yet within these practicalities there are moments of intimacy, tenderness and companionship. These are the moments I try to capture in my drawings, which I do from memory whilst travelling between shifts or when I get home from work in the evenings.’
James Robert Morrison: There is Never More Than a Fag Paper Between Them – Leo & Brian, 2020
The medium here is pencil on cigarette papers and the image is taken from pornography – a crass-sounding combination that turns out to be touching and nostalgic. 40 year old James Robert Morrison explains that when he overheard a gay teenager describe a gay couple as ‘never having more than a fag paper between them’, he was taken back to how at his age he didn’t know anyone gay and there were no ‘out and proud’ public figures either, so the couples in his collection of pornographic magazines ‘were who I had to look up to’.
Akash Bhatt: Shak Rotli, 2020
Akash Bhatt explains that, in this maternal tribute portrait, ‘the writing comes from the freezer labels that I have saved in a book over the years from my mother’s food containers, which she freezes for me to use at a later date.’ They include plenty of Shak Rotli – Gujarati for curry and chapattis. It sounds as if the service continues as the son approaches fifty: let’s hope stocks were at a good level when lockdowns began.
Art writer and curator Paul Carey-Kent sees a lot of shows: we asked him to jot down whatever came into his head.
More to read from Paul Carey-Kent HERE