Ellen BellGallery Watching
Gallery Watching has been a year-long project funded by Arts Council Wales (ACW). It was conceived as a means of using drawing to capture visitors’ reactions when engaging with art in an art space. Visiting Ruthin Craft Centre (RCC) and Oriel Davies (OD) once a month, I performed real-time reportage drawing – a kind of rapid-fire, instinctual, reactive method of drawing – so that the people that I was drawing could both see and participate in what I was doing.
Each month I also wrote an online journal chronicling my experiences of drawing in the galleries, illustrating this with my drawings. A visual narrative began to take shape that told of the galleries’ ebb and flow – their exhibitions, events and visiting demographic – but also the nature of the peripheral architecture of their physical structures.
In support of the project, and as means of keeping my drawing ‘warm’, I began a practice of drawing every day, choosing spaces in which I could observe people. I drew in sketchbooks, as I did in the galleries. I love sketchbooks. I love their portability, their covertness and held-in-the-hand intimacy. This exhibition includes some of these sketchbooks.
Gallery Watching has been a marvellous experience for me and I am truly grateful to Arts Council of Wales, to all at Ruthin Craft Centre and Oriel Davies for so generously supporting me and allowing me such free rein in their spaces (and to drip ink all over their floors). My drawing practice has flourished as a result.