21 Oct 2020

In Focus - Rachel Duckhouse's new drawing series, 'A Gathering'

Unframe London

In Focus - Rachel Duckhouse's new drawing series, 'A Gathering'

We explore Glasgow based artist Rachel Duckhouse’s new drawing series

We at Unframe are pleased to announce that Rachel Duckhouse currently has a solo exhibition at the Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum & Arts Centre located in Lochmaddy, North Uist in Scotland. Lochmaddy is the main port of entry to North Uist. Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum & Arts Centre is located there, on the shoreline of a natural conservation area.

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‘Trusadh / A Gathering’ solo exhibition

Duckhouse’s point of focus, in particular, in her drawings are sheep fanks, carraidh (fish traps) and stepping stones. Although her chosen subject of sheep fanks are traditional and almost brutalist in design, she draws attention to the allure of their simplicity. In many ways, Duckhouse felt compelled to adapt to the restrictions of the pandemic, as her means of printing were halted due to print studio closures. Rachel made these drawings during isolation at a table in her home. Most of all, the change in her usual work environment forced her to turn to the world outside and her relation to it. There is also a spiritual element to the works, that connects it to both Agnes Pelton and Hilma af Klint.

Lochmaddy North Uist
Lochmaddy, North Uist

Duckhouse’s work is included in ‘Trusadh / A Gathering’, an exhibition made in response to her RSA Residency in 2019. During this residency, Duckhouse walked 156 miles of the Hebridean Way, finally spending two weeks in the Taigh Chearsabhagh studio. Importantly, her reflections on her experience of the landscape is what informed her new drawings. With this intention, Duckhouse created her twelve pen and ink drawings from sketchbook studies made there. In this instance, Duckhouse became fascinated by the crofting architecture of the area, its landscape and social history. Her concerns were specifically with the threat of rising sea levels in the low lying islands, due to rapid global warming.

Rachel Duckhouse exhibition
‘Rachel Duckhouse’, 2020 Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum & Arts Centre. Courtesy of the artist.

Rachel’s Drawing series

For the most part, Glasgow based artist Rachel Duckhouse’s new series is made up of meticulous pen and ink drawing. As an artist, she primarily works in printmaking, however, due to the recent print studio closures she has created a new body of drawing work. Crucially, her new focus on this subject is what makes a Rachel Duckhouse drawing so intriguing. Specifically, her pen and ink drawings are based on her time at the RSA (Royal Scottish Academy) Residency. In particular, she bases this new series of geometric drawings on sheep fanks on the Scottish Island of Eriskay. As a result of Rachel no longer able being able to access the print workshops or studio, instinctually Duckhouse took to the medium of drawing. Importantly, the drawings respond to the uncertain times we live in and depict, in many ways, the repurposing and re-associated practices many artists face.

Rachel Duckhouse exhibition
‘Rachel Duckhouse’, 2020 Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum & Arts Centre. Courtesy of the artist.

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‘Loch Maddy Fank i’

In this example, the alluring geometric designs of the Rachel Duckhouse drawing ‘Loch Maddy Fank i’ (2020) draw from a newer design of sheep fanks on the Island of Eriskay. Here we see the precise geometry of the lines interplay with the linear brutalist structures. Ultimately, ‘Loch Maddy Fank I’ is probably one of the most figurative of her drawings so far. Similarly, she hones in on the fence’s details, her intentions were for the drawings to mysteriously tell a narrative to the viewer.

Sheep Fank
‘Lochmaddy Sheep Fanks, North Uist’, 2019. Rachel Duckhouse. Courtesy of the artist.

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Crucially, Rachel’s work uses themes of architectural interventions, she often explores the juxtaposition of the man made in a natural and organic background. Important to note, this is her first large scale series of drawings, naturally they have an energy and a force to them that sets them apart. In this case, the initial impetus to make this series the landscape, marking her interest in the longstanding sheep fank structures and natural surroundings. Her geometrical lines show the energy of wind on water, or water around rocks.

Rachel Duckhouse
‘Lochmaddy, North Uist’, 2019. Rachel Duckhouse. Courtesy of the artist.

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Rachel Duckhouse exhibition
‘Installation shots at RSA: Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture. Vatersay Fank i, ii, iii, Pen and ink drawing’, 2020. Rachel Duckhouse. Courtesy of the artist.

Reduct: Abstraction and Geometry in Scottish Art

As well as this, Rachel’s work is included in ‘Reduct: Abstraction and Geometry in Scottish Art’, currently showing until 22 November 2020 at the Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture in Edinburgh. Made up of works by 31 Scottish artists, crucially, it examines the pursuit of non-objective form, through the prism of geometry. Markedly, it is as an important movement in contemporary Scottish painting, printmaking and sculpture. Important to note, the title ‘Reduct’ relates to the centrality of reduction and distillation to abstraction.

Other artists in the exhibition include: David Batchelor, Alan Davie, Jim Lambie, Eduardo Paolozzi and Toby Paterson.

Find out more about Rachel’s exhibition

Trinity Buoy Wharf Prize

In other news, Rachel’s work is included in The Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize (previously the Jerwood Drawing Prize) this month. Important to note, The Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize 2020 exhibition includes 71 drawings by 56 practitioners. In this case, Rachel Duckhouse’s drawings are included in the prestigious exhibition at Drawing Projects UK. This open exhibition is a platform for all drawing practitioners in the UK, both emerging and established. Here, they can showcase their work alongside other leading artists and makers in the field. The annual exhibition tours widely after a launch in London. The exhibition is on from 2- 31st October.

Geometric drawing

Rachel’s work is often driven by the drawing of repeated shapes or lines. Generally, through themes of repetition, layering, architectural structure and patterning. As her practice has developed, these themes have evolved into the starting point for several research based projects. These have explored patterns, structures and repeated rhythms and flows found in all sorts of contexts including; architecture, landscape, the flow of water and biological systems. In between these, she has continued to develop series’ of intuitively drawn pen and ink works. In summary, Duckhouse is driven more by instinct than research in her practice.

About the artist:

Important to note, Rachel exhibits extensively internationally, including having solo shows at MacRobert Art Centre, Stirling and Hunterian Museum, Glasgow. Rachel includes her work in the recent canonical exhibition ‘Pushing Paper: contemporary drawing from 1970 to now’, at the British Museum, London.

Lastly, Rachel has work in important collections, to name a few, these include; the British Museum Prints and Drawings Collection, Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital; Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York and Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow.

Discover more about Rachel’s work