Linda Chase Broda – The Tai Village Hall
St James and Emmanuel Community Hall
The Parsonage Trust
The Didsbury Arts Festival
Lynne Duric · Graphic Design
Celebratory website coordinators – Margaret Crowther · Lynne Duric · Cecile Elstein · Jackie & Bruce Mitchell
Reviewers – Phil Griffin · John Harris · Jen Wright
Hooper and Kind Digital Design
There are many routes and outcomes to creative expression. One of which is to join the audience. I am lucky to have lived in the Television age, where thoughtful interpreters, from Kenneth Clarke to Robert Hughes, Simon Schama to Wendy Beckett have been my tour guides through great cities and great art.
Wendy Beckett, for most of her life, a hermit nun, pointed out to me once that most of the works of art she spent her life contemplating, she had never seen; only their images in books and photographs (until the BBC whisked her round the world’s great collections). Just now, (and I am still amazed I can say this) I’ve spent a happy hour in the Prado with Fra Angelico, El Greco, Velasquez and Goya. The age of television gives way to the age of the internet, and art is democratised still further.
And I can tour Didsbury Drawing. There are, for those of us fortunate enough to be sighted, many ways of seeing (thank you Mr Berger). All are valid. On behalf of those of us in the auditorium, who never achieved a true note, or a straight line, or colour separation, chiaroscuro or two-point perspective, let me stand and loudly applaud you.
Phil Griffin was born in Ancoats in the middle of the last century. He writes about architecture and occasionally curates exhibitions in borrowed spaces. www.popupgallerymanchester.com will be resurrected again in summer 2021. Phil has lived in Manchester all his life.
It has been a pleasure and a real privilege to have had the opportunity to review 20 years of a possibly unique adventure in life drawing, started by Didsbury Drawing in 2001. The website records the contribution of 19 models and 29 artists to what has obviously been a marvellous collective experiment in life drawing, taking place in conditions of mutual respect and collaboration. Testimony from the models is both enthusiastic and positive. They clearly enjoyed their time with Didsbury Drawing and appreciated the relaxed and supportive atmosphere that prevailed.
Looking at the high quality of the work that each artist has chosen to feature from their time with the group impresses upon me how stimulating and valuable the experience must have been. All seem to have appreciated the rule that people would not look at or discuss each others’ work. I must confess to thinking that there is perhaps a downside to this missed opportunity for feedback and constructive discussion. This mutual exchange of ideas occasioned by the work and thoughts of others, and theirs about mine, was something I myself experienced, and from which I benefitted in 55 years as a university student and then teacher.
FMedSci., MAE, FSB, B.A., D.Phil., Hon. D.Litt. Professor Emeritus, University of Manchester, Visiting Professor in Bioethics, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Kings College London and Distinguished Research Fellow, Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics. Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford.
Trained philosopher and legal theorist, John Harris has spent most of his working life as a university teacher and researcher. Working mostly on the ethics and policy dimensions of science and technology, particularly bio-medical science and the technology of its applications, and on Artificial Intelligence (AI). He started his career teaching Aesthetics (philosophy of art) for two years to art teachers and lecturers and their students.
The overall ethos of this website sends a strong message of respectful collaboration. The home page including models comments reflects this – often models are not valued for all their hard work and collaboration with the artist. Drawing is at the heart of arts practice, and it is good to see work that reflects different strengths and interests and extends ideas of drawing as a practice as in Frances Edwards’s work which develops the notion of drawing as a language of line and rhythm.
The artwork on each artist’s page works well, especially where grouped to reflect a theme linked to work outside the sessions, as seen in the work of Dawn Roland, Maggie Harbour, Liz Fox, Sharon Hibbert and Sue Henderson, with Heather Dickinson revealing connexions with her professional oeuvre. Sarah Morley has a well composed page with life drawings balanced by colourful more abstract landscapes. Rosalinda Morley extends her drawings with examples of ceramics. Notable are links between life drawing and developed works by Janet Kershaw, Sue Williams, Mike Cornall and Jackie Mitchell.
Many artist’s comments show appreciation for the opportunity to be part of a community of drawers, conveying pleasure in opportunities for experimentation. Ian Starr’s work for example develops his work with technique and texture, while Margaret Crowther and Helena Hulova manipulate materials in a bold way. Rosana Ibarrola’s addition of areas of colour extends her drawings. Lovely to see bold 3D work linked to drawings by Jean Fenton. There are good examples of expanding techniques from rapid sketches and more developed work inside and outside life drawing sessions by Cecile Elstein and Lynne M Duric. Laura Garcia Martin has a clear explanation of experimentation in her drawing process, while Mike Stevenson’s description of use of pattern, tone and texture is strongly shown in his chosen images.
Jen Wright is a PhD Independent Artist researcher. Ongoing work features investigations into the use of drawing into understanding disease processes and medical procedures while continuing a drawing practice. Examples can be seen on Instagram.
In 2020, we had planned to hold an exhibition to celebrate Didsbury Drawing over 20 years but this was halted due to the restrictions of Covid 19 and so instead we made Didsbury Drawing Celebratory Website.
Drawn in Time was an exhibition at the Parsonage with a finale of Poetry and Music.
As a musician living and working in Manchester for the past 40 years, I have been associated with Didsbury Drawing exhibitions at the Parsonage in Didsbury on two occasions in 2013 and 2016, presenting chamber music concerts in the recently refurbished ‘Red Room’.
The first concert in 2013 by the Arioso Ensemble consisted of music for a quintet consisting of string trio, flute and oboe. We were able to programme the famous Mozart flute and oboe quartets and by chance I discovered a copy of the original edition of a J.C. Bach quintet scored for the exact instrumental combination of our ensemble. It was quite a challenge for us to play from the original 18th century material but the resulting performance for the Didsbury Drawing event may well have been the first performance for over 200 years!
The second concert by Trio Fauve in 2016 featured music for flute, viola and harp, principally the famous Debussy Trio but also an arrangement of Ravel’s Tombeau de Couperin. Our group’s association with art and drawing is reflected in the name ‘Fauve’ which refers to the ‘Fauvists’ – the group of French post-impressionists whose creative activity was contemporaneous with Debussy, Ravel and other late 19th/early 20th century composers that have written for the flute, viola and harp trio.
Both concerts were very well attended and the warm acoustic of the Edwardian drawing room of the Parsonage together the many drawings that surrounded us by local artists, some of whom were in the audience, contributed to two very rewarding and atmospheric occasions.
In 2013 we organised Drawing Matters 13 an exhibition with a finale of Poetry and Music was held at The Parsonage, Stenner Lane, Didsbury.
The poetry events hosted by Didsbury Drawing were a delight. This art group invited local poets to read on an evening towards the end of various exhibitions of their art work in the Parsonage, Didsbury, so poetry reading took place in a ready-made atmosphere of community. The group’s artwork hung on walls and the interval provided the opportunity for people to talk as well as look at the drawings. Each event was an embrace, the group’s embrace of the Didsbury community who were invited to come along, their embrace of poets, their embrace of each other. This encircling provided a warm atmosphere for mutual sharing.
Some of the poets who participated were Martin Kratz, Marie Naughton, Ian Marriott, Annie Muir, Edmund Prestwich, Janet Rogerson. The poems read were varied in subject matter as well as in style and those who participated appreciated being part of these friendly events. Poets value opportunities to read their own work and this art group were generous in providing these events.
Thank you Didsbury Drawing.
The correspondence between the writing of poetry and drawing
I wish to draw your attention to the primacy of rhythmical action. The dance of the sentence and the action in the drawing is its adventure and significance. When I listen to that significant sentence, and see the language of the material on paper, I feel the outstretched compassionate hand, sharing experience through time.
– Cecile Elstein · from an introduction to the evening poetry reading 2013 at the Parsonage during the Didsbury Arts Festival exhibition.
In 2012, the Upper Hall in the community centre of St. James and Emmanuel Church in Barlow Moor Road Didsbury became our venue right up until 2020. This has been a happy time using a well-run friendly space.
In 2011, Didsbury Drawing found a temporary venue, Upper floor Pizza Express. By this time more people had gathered for our life drawing sessions, when the number reached over 30, we divided into two sessions a week.
Upper Floor Pizza Express Lapwing Lane Didsbury, the old post office building.
In 2010 Personal Views was an exhibition of ‘Art works derived from figurative starting points which attempt to explore the human condition and our relationships with our environment. held at Didsbury Cricket Club Function Room as part of a 2nd Didsbury Arts Festival.
The first Didsbury Arts Festival in 2009 prompted our decision to join this community activity. After much debate amongst the artists, some people were unsure of the value of exhibiting, fearing that it might spoil our atmosphere of authenticity.
However our first exhibition ‘ Drawing for Life’ took place at the Tai Chi Village Hall as part of the Festival. We held a musical event to highlight the end of the exhibition, with performances from a group of young musicians and local classical guitarist, Alan Arthur.
Didsbury Drawing began in answer to a request for a life drawing session in Didsbury by an artist Fernandez Cruiz, who was not heard from again. It began at the Tai Chi Village Hall at the back of 163 Palatine Road Didsbury on the 11 September 2001. (On that auspicious day, we were shocked to hear the dreadful news of the destruction of the Twin Towers in USA.)
Our first drawing session began in a friendly quiet space. Our thanks go to the fond memory of Linda Broda, Tai Chi leader, textile artist, musician and poet, who had created a magical space for hire in our community of many creatives. The space had an unusually good atmosphere and became our regular place for life drawing until Linda’s death in 2011. Her house including the ‘Village Hall’ was sold.