Monday, 26 November 2012

David Gentleman

Just a couple of weeks back I was invited to a lecture at my university led by the talented and famous illustrator David Gentleman. For years my university have been trying to get him to do a lecture, which has been really difficult due to his lack of time and busy schedule, but amazingly they managed to convince him to do a lecture. I think most everyday people probably haven't heard of him before, but you will most definitely have seen his work somewhere over the years.
The lecture was held at the Wilson Road building at Camberwell College of Arts on a Wednesday morning, and so many people turned up, including current students, past students and lecturers.
So to begin with he introduced himself as David Gentleman (born 11 March 1930, London). He is an English illustrator and graphic designer whom studied illustration at the Royal College of Art.  He has worked in a wide range of media including watercolour, lithography, wood engraving, and his work itself has ranged from the platform-length murals for Charing Cross underground station in London to postage stamps and logos. His themes too have varied widely, from paintings of landscape and environmental posters for the National Trust to drawings of street life in London and protest placards against the Iraq war. He has written and illustrated many books about countries and cities and has travelled widely throughout Britain, France, Italy and India.
An example of his famous stamp designs- between 1962 and 2000 he designed 103 stamps for the Post Office, making him possibly one of the most well known stamp designers in Britain.
Now I'm sure some of you will remember this...On the eve of the Iraq war in 2003 he offered Stop the War Coalition a poster saying simply ‘No’. This was carried on the biggest protest march in British history. It was the first of many march placards, including ‘No more lies’ and ‘Bliar’. His largest design was an installation in 2007 of 100,000 drops of blood, one for each person already killed in the war. The bloodstains were printed on 1000 sheets of card pegged out in a vast square covering the grass in Parliament Square. And if you don't remember that, then anyone who has been to Charing Cross station in London most definitely will recognise this mural on the underground:
So famous work aside, he talked about his new book 'London, You're Beautiful' which was released in time for the 2012 games in London. Its a really amazing book for anyone who has ever had any connection with London.
Its full of a wide variety of landscapes and buildings of famous areas and also not so famous areas, all drawn rather delicately in fine liners and watercolours.
Even if you don't care about illustration, its extremely beautiful to look at :D
This one below is the Carpet Store that got burnt down in Croydon during the London Riots last year. Apparently David Gentleman drew this on scene, as a life drawing as opposed to from a photograph.
Aswell as buildings and landscapes, he also looks at the locals of London, including its ethnic diversity and multicultural areas.
They're drawn quite quickly, but there is something extremely life-like about them, most probably due to the fact they were drawn from real life.
The Olympic Park was included in the book too (seeing as it was released at the time of the Games itself)
Some really good watercolours of kids...during the lecture he was talking about how he was always worried that he couldn't draw people very well, but in my opinion I think they are some of his strongest pieces of work.
The famous HSBC building! He also mentioned how the slope of the building was an accident in his drawing and he originally planned to throw it away and start again, but decided in the end that he rather liked the 'mistakes'.
Famous Camden, which is where he lives currently, and draws alot of still life from.
Such beautiful illustrations! A big inspiration to my own work and practice, although I will say this is a lecture I really enjoyed and feel pretty lucky to have been there.


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