Text and images by Anna Biesuz, MA Drawing, Wimbledon College of Arts
On the 17th November UAL’s Postgraduate Community held its first DRAW (Drawing Research at Wimbledon) Reading Group event of this academic year. DRAW aims to explore the interdisciplinary approach to drawing as a subject, through the experiences of diverse artists. The first DRAW event was concerned about the meaning and employment of drawing within fashion design, with a talk held by well-known fashion illustrator and Course Leader of BA (Hons) Fashion Illustration at London College of Fashion, Sue Dray.
Dray engaged the audience in the reflection of the role that drawing owns in the process of both visualisation and creation of image making in the world of fashion and illustration, presenting several works she made throughout her career. Her huge experience and artistry, demonstrate the untruthful assumption of those who still claim to keep out illustration from Art heritage.
After attending art school in 1973, she started her first commissions as a freelance illustrator during the ‘80s, working for feminist magazines such as Spare Rib, and gay publishing, like the Gay Mens Press, Gay Pied in Paris, and as well as Gay News. During this period her works were characterised by an obsession of making detailed figurative depictions, through inks and the use of bright colours, whereby she aimed to create a convincing narrative of subjects. This representational approach to illustration can also be seen in her book jacket designs, as well as in her cook book illustrations and other editorial commissions.
When she found out this extreme figurative method could no longer fit her creativity, she decided to explore a more spontaneous way of illustrating, getting back to the immediacy of the drawings of her childhood; which embodied a personal rejection of the inhibition through which creativity is often damaged by an excessive overthinking critical drawing practice. This emancipation from her own depicting limits, allowed her to release her imagination into a more powerful and meditating freedom of expression, featured by distinctive employment of different textures, instinctive marks and enchanting us of intense colours.
As Dray brilliantly argued, art itself is much more about visually liberating the essence and the narrative of the subject, than reducing it into an exasperated and aseptic fully detailed composition. At that time, she applied this new intuitive drawing approach to fashion illustration, experiencing the challenging dynamism of live drawing from the runway and used this an alternative to studio practice.
Through her works, she drew the impressions she experienced looking at the narrative of catwalk, trying to materialize the essence and meanings of different outfits and collections. Currently Sue Dray’s practice involves exclusively making live illustrations from the catwalk, working with several fashion designers including Vivienne Westwood and Andrew Logan’s “Alternative Miss World”. Her peculiar creative sensitivity has been published by Sunday Times, Cosmopolian, Time Out, Fashion Weekly, Elle, New Scientist and The Observer.
This event was organised by DRAW (Drawing Research at Wimbledon), a postgraduate reading group focusing on interdisciplinary approaches to drawing. DRAW is led by Tania Kovats, (Course Director,MA Drawing) and supported by the UAL Postgraduate Community.
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