March 5th, 2009
This is my latest drawing of Ken Billingham in his house in Cradley Heath,West Midlands. It is on A1 size paper and the drawing is approximately 31″ x 23″ ( charcoal, graphite and carbon on paper ).
I met Ken about 18 years ago, man alive! I can’t believe that, in 1991 while I was doing my MA project at Birmingham Art College. I was looking at the deindustrialisation of the west midlands steel industry and the effects it had on the Black Country’s communities.
I met Ken at the foundry where he worked in Cradley Heath, Glynwed Foundry I remember it was called, long since demolished. Ken used to tap the furnaces and catch the moulten steel in metal shanks. I never felt that I really captured him properly back in 1991 so I asked him if he would mind sitting for me agian, which he did just before Christmas.
He is a deeply religious man and has had a series of profound religious experiences so I wanted to bring this out in the drawing of him where I have used the ceramic crucifix which is on his wall in the front room. I wanted to make a drawing which was connected to Rennaisance art and religious imagery, especially with the atmospheric lighting used by Caravaggio so I wanted to create quite strong shadows and contrasts. Ken gesticulates with his hands while he is talking and this is something else I wanted to work on, almost in thoughtful conversation. He’s got such fantastic, big hands which were formed in the foundries of the Black Country and were an integural part of the portrait. The title comes from the candle holders on the ceramic crucifix which I felt was very the way Ken has lived his life.
If you click on the image it should enlarge.
Look at my next entry for the development of the drawing
Entry Filed under: Art