BEHIND THE SCENES:
March 26th 2021
A STUDIO VISIT WITH DEANNA PETHERBRIDGE
In response to her PHAIDON book that has just been published, Vitamin D3: Today’s Best in Contemporary Drawing.
Excerpt from the PHAIDON article, Why I Draw by George Vasey and pictures by Stephen White.
Who are you and what’s on your mind right now?
I’m Deanna Petherbridge, a drawer and writer, and the state of the world is very much on my mind. This is what I have been drawing this year, mainly in pen and ink on paper diptychs, and possibly will be doing in 2021 as well. When I refer to ‘the state of the world’ I don’t only mean Covid 19 and the impact of this pandemic, but also global warming and the destruction of the environment that is reaching apocalyptic levels, while wars and bad governments proliferate and add to the sum of human suffering in our interconnected firmament. I am old enough to care passionately, and while I welcome the hopeful activism, positive stance or occasional detachment of so many young people, I also believe that dealing with these issues through visual imagery is the very function of being an artist … even if what we make isn’t all irony or good cheer and false bonhomie. This is the profoundly serious subject-matter today: how can we avoid it?
[…] And I have so often seen that drawing is the only means to hand of those in poor countries or in oppressive conditions, where expensive media are the tools of controlling institutions and hegemonies or gestures of gallery profligacy . This background (I was born and grew up in South Africa) supplies me with the confidence that pen-and-ink lines are the key means for challenging large themes and complex ideas as well as modest gestures: doing much with little. I draw most days, except when writing about drawing, and it has always given me pleasure to work in places other than my studio, travelling light with a roll of paper and a bottle of ink – plus a straight edge for moral compass!
When do you draw and what sort of physical, spiritual, mental or geographical place do you have to be in generally for it to work?
Excerpt from the Vitamin D3: Today’s Best in Contemporary Drawing text, pp. 202-203, George Vasey, 2021