The Practice.

Since 2015 I have made images from life, working in public, whilst travelling on the Metropolitan Line tube in London. This began by using drawing apps on smart phones and has developed into using real media. I currently draw, sketch and collage on prepared newspaper.

My sketching routine is to take a drawing board and materials, board the tube at Liverpool street station and travel to Uxbridge attempting to create two dimensional compositions of what is seen. Therefore, this is a traditional, figurative, and academic arts practice. The work develops and changes naturally as various ideas are worked through. I began with making images of the wider landscape of the tube interior with figures and this has evolved into focusing on the passengers in a tighter space. The better pieces are scanned and archival, facsimile prints produced. Occasionally digital composites are also constructed from two or more sketches which are denoted with ‘DC’ in the website galleries. Suitable images, transcribed into paintings, in turn influence how future sketches are made.

Early Work. This work reflects the traditional English academic art school emphasis on figurative drawing in the 1970s. Peter Todd at Grimsby School of Art and Peter Greenham at the Royal Academy Schools both considered observational, figurative study especially life drawing to be essential, fundamental and necessary for artistic development. 

Hackney Art. These works on paper reflect moving to Hackney in 1976 and becoming excited by the black music genre especially Jamaican reggae and dub music.

Box Drawings. Working for a housing department I frequently came across abandoned possessions in void properties which made me think of the boxes made by Joseph Cornell. At first the box studies contained specific items I had seen in the properties. Later the boxes came to represent other things. Some appear like decorative craft objects or reminiscent of loudspeaker boxes while others might contain human forms. Some seem to represent loss or conditions of mental health and are emotionally dark or strange.

Digital Art. The digital art prints were made to record the commute to Harrow using various smart phones including the iPhone 5c with ‘Tayasui Sketches’ or Adobe Sketch apps. A Samsung Note 3 was used for most of the work in 2016. 

Dot Matrix Art. The dot matrix images were made by printing digital drawings from an iPhone with various obsolete dot matrix printers.

Mixed Media and Collage. This group of works began in 2020 during lockdown when I began to draw on full size newspapers and forms part of my current practice.

Larger Work, Prints and Paintings. The Islington Arts Factory is a converted church and has exhibition walls up to four metres high which I wanted to exploit somehow. When I saw the Gilbert and George ‘C*** S***’, grid in sixteen frames at the Tate Modern, I realised I could make a grid picture of similar proportions.

‘Metropolitan Line 20.11.2017 15.36’ is made up of 25 black framed canvas posters. The original sketch was created on an iPhone 5c and printed with a dot matrix printer in colour on matt photographic paper approximately 210 x 210 mm. The colour was deepened by reprinting the same image on the same sheet with an inkjet printer. Next, an engineering cross sectional drawing of the Bombardier S8 stock tube carriage was printed again on the same sheet with a monochrome dot matrix printer. The composite image was then scanned and finally printed with an Epson 7800 with pigment ink to fit the 25 frames. The idea being that the finished grid dimensions would be exactly the same size as the Metropolitan Line carriage, 2820 x 2820 mm.

‘Sea’ is a grid of 25 frames; a square turned on its end to create a diamond shape four metres high. It’s a composite image made from an original digital sketch of the Metropolitan Line combined with an accidental print of banded colour, reminiscent of a seascape. (The accidental print was caused by using the wrong print driver on a Panasonic KX-P2125) The final composition was constructed physically by printing the images separately on the same sheet with various printers. 

‘Mother Grid’ comprises of 100 A4 frames containing reproductions of Biro sketches made on the Metropolitan Line hung in sequence to form a time line. Around the perimeter are 44 dated photographs in black frames. These are family snaps from the 1950’s cropped to make little portraits: a reference to my late mother.

Large Canvas PrintsThe large canvas prints are high quality giclee reproductions of the mixed media drawings printed with Epson K3 ink on canvas. They are made by sewing two halves of the print together with the title hand painted in the footer. The prints were created for exhibition purposes and generally measure 54 x 40 inches.

Paintings.  These paintings have been made by transcribing information from a suitable sketch by projection, onto a blank canvas print of the original sketching ground. The resulting outlines are filled in with acrylic paint. The results tend to be more sublime and harmonious than the original sketches and sometimes details are added for example logos to clothing. The paintings also measure 54 x 40 inches.

Small Works. I began using post cards and small grounds to draw on  with mixed media after abandoning digital sketching; a practice which has continued.’

Large grid picture of figures on the tube composed of 25 frames
Metropolitan Line 20.11.17 15.36
martin church artist with 1956 singer sewing machine
Clapton, 7th July 2021.