David Austen IMG_0478

Drawing Unlocked Drawing Room London (2020)

Drawing Room London

Our new online project Drawing Unlocked reveals recent drawings made by artists living around the globe, from London, to Lagos, to Lahore, united by the fight against Coronavirus. These artists, all of whom we’ve worked with in recent years, share their intimate reflections on the importance of drawing to them at this challenging time. The artists receive 100% of any sales. For sales enquiries please contact mail@drawingroom.org.uk

David Austen

The conversation 29.5.20

2020 watercolour 10 x 10 inches 25.4 x 25.4cm

I hadn’t visited my studio in eight weeks. During my absence I worked at home on a tiny table in the back room by a window. I made an ongoing series of abstract gouaches in collaboration with my friend, the writer Hisham Matar. I would email H a drawing and he would send me a piece of writing, alongside we exchanged daily thoughts, a song of the day, cooking tips and recipes. It was essential my pieces were abstract; I didn’t want to make something literal or illustrative but let the strangeness of the times and H’s words seep into the works. H’s text soon took on the structure of a fairy tale or novella set in an unnamed North African city beside the sea.

On my return to the studio it was like opening Tutankhamun’s tomb to the light. Who was this person who had made these odd works and read all these piles of books. I was frightened of making anything or continuing the half finished works on the walls that now seemed frozen in time, as if by anothers hand.

I began as I always do by drawing, but now I wanted the drawings to be populated by living humans. I made a group of watercolours that I imagine have derived from observing the current gatherings of people talking to each other in the city parks, though here they are naked and standing on each other’s shoulders.

The conversation 29.5.20 2020 watercolour 10 x 10 inches 25.4 x 25.4cm