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‘Drawing the Horse’ – with Rachel Campbell Johnston & George Irvine


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George Stubbs is going to be a focal point to what promises to be an informative, creative and fast-moving day in which you will experience fresh ways to conjure impressions of movement, volume and space. The day will start with a talk from Rachel Campbell Johnston on the life and art of George Stubbs, the 18th century painter whose anatomical knowledge of the horse was unrivalled but whose equine portraits have a grace and lyricism – and sometimes a ferocity  – that lift them beyond mere fact. This will lead nicely on to the practical, taught by George Irvine, in which you will be encouraged to try out an imaginative variety of approaches and techniques.

Contemporary sculptors such as Richard Serra and Tony Cragg speak of working  from the inside out. They set out in their drawings to speak of the movement and energy of their finished works. George Stubbs’ epic curiosity led him to take the horse apart, unpeeling it layer by layer, down to its bones. He documented the entire process with exquisite precision in the drawings that inform his beautiful but highly stylised paintings. But Stubbs lived in an age before the camera, before Eadweard Muybridge first managed to record the mechanics of movement on film. Using a moving horse as a model (and benefiting from what the camera has taught us) we will try to make works that evoke the poetry of equine motion.

Rachel Campbell-Johnston is a freelance art critic. She was previously The Times’s chief art critic for 20 years. 

George Irvine is a contemporary Artist who works and lives on Exmoor. He studied at the Slade School of Fine Art, UCL and later taught Art at Stowe School, Buckingham for 12 years. George and his wife, Victoria, ran Buttermilk Art School before moving to Exmoor. 

9.30 am Meet at the Threshing barn, Emmetts Grange. Welcome and introduction to the day.
10-11am  A talk on George Stubbs in the barn. Followed by chat and coffee in barn.
11.30-1pm Arena. Use inks, line drawings and small aluminium wire sculptures.
1-2 pm  Lunch
2 – 4pm Work on some more resolved drawings at a larger scale. Either in series or a single piece.
4pm A summing up & cup of tea.
(Times are just a guide and may fluctuate).
  • This is suitable for all abilities
  • Price includes tuition, lecture, refreshments & lunch
  • A list of necessary materials will be sent out on confirmation. Some materials provided
  • Payment is non-refundable unless a replacement can be found


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