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Stephen Farthing at The Drawing Gallery
Stephen Farthing, Between Trees, 2005. Iron Gall on Irish handmade paper. 62cm x 90cm.

LONDON, UK.- The Drawing Gallery is pleased to present the first solo exhibition of British artist Stephen Farthing RA, since his return to the UK. The following text was written by Farthing to accompany this exhibition of new drawings:

As a student I was taught to like drawings that were made from thick energetic black lines; so, for quite a while, pencils and pens didn’t really feature in my dusty, crunchy, squeaky charcoal world. Fifteen years ago however, I climbed right out of that aesthetic when I started for the first time to draw with pen and ink, work smaller and get more interested in detail.

The first pen drawings, were copies made from Leonardo sketchbooks, then drawings of the ships of the line at Trafalgar, then, after that, I made several visits to Japan and got something of the feel of the ninja map into my drawings. Finally, by summer 1999, I was drawing trees from life. What I liked about the big leafy trees I chose to draw was how I could make the detail of the leaves gradually accumulate into a tree and one big shape.

It’s just too cold to make anything more than hurried notes if you work out of doors in winter. In the summer however you can set yourself up in the shade, in a comfortable chair, for hours and absorb the warmth and peace of the view, slowly working across and around a tree, recording the position and the shapes of the bits that make it up. In late December 2003 I started to draw winter trees - snow clad trees. I was staying in a wooden house half way up a mountain above Lyon in France. It had a big floor to ceiling glass door, and a big armchair where I sat each day for a week, drawing for an hour or two as the sun set. I drew in the warmth of a bedroom with the trees immediately beyond the glass.

As I drew, the snow that partially covered the trees began to confuse the scale of the marks that described the pine needles. So, some of the trees became, in my mind, entire mountainsides. When this happened, and when later I found I could control the results, I realised that I had found something.

STEPHEN FARTHING (b. 1950) studied at Canterbury College of Art (1977-79) and The Royal College of Art (1985-89) and received an Abbey Major Scholarship to The British School, Rome in 1976. He has taught at Canterbury College of Art, The Royal College of Art and Surrey Institute of Art & Design. In 1990-2000 he was Master at The Ruskin School of Fine Art and during 2000-04 he was Executive Director of The New York Academy of Art. In 2004 he was appointed to The Rootstein Hopkins Chair of Drawing, University of the Arts, London. Farthing was Artist in Residence at the Hayward Gallery in 1989, he was elected Royal Academician in 1998, and in 2000 was made an Emeritus Fellow of St. Edmund Hall, Oxford. Farthing has exhibited extensively in one man shows since his first solo exhibition at the Royal College of Art Gallery, London 1977. His work, representing Britain, was shown at the Sao Paulo Biennale in 1989, leading to many further solo shows in the UK and abroad, including South America and Japan. He has also participated in many group exhibitions since 1975, including the John Moores Liverpool Exhibitions, in which he was a Prize Winner in 1976, 1980, 1982, 1987, 1991, 1993, 1997 and 1999. In 2000 he wrote the Intelligent Persons Guide to Modern Art, published by Duckworth, London. His work is represented in museums, galleries, corporate and private collections in Asia, Europe, Latin America and the USA.

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