Marie Ellis Feature Artist - Sam Eyles


Sam Eyles, Brisbane
Drawing is the story I write to converse with myself.

How would you compare the traditional practice of drawing to the digital approach?
For me there is no comparison. The way I treat “traditional drawing” processes; pencil to paper, requires honesty and confidence whilst also being open to flaws and inconsistencies in materials and methods, open to working with the uncontrolled or unforeseen to occur.

The personal hand written, mark making, pressure and variation, the exploration of new materials, the rawness, the immediacy, the time, the lack of time, the control, the lack of control, a touch that I don’t believe can be captured in a digital process. There is something special about drawing, the physical action of applying a medium to a surface, the touch that is required to make those materials come together, to communicate your thoughts, your ideas and tell your story. Only through the physical practice of drawing can these raw and honest notions be expressed.

There is nowhere to hide in drawing. I have to make those marks work.

How do you feel the practice of drawing evolved over the past 10 years?
There seemed to be a move away from traditional drawing practices in institutions in favour of “conceptual” practices where drawing was not expected to underpin the work. Leading, I believe, to some bodies of work with less substance. More recently I have seen a move back to artists exploring drawing and using the medium to inform their practice. People want to see the artist’s hand at work. Creative consumers want to see the artist’s hand in what they are consuming. To humanise is to create true connection. To mechanise is to disconnect.

Why are competitions like the Marie Ellis OAM Prize for Drawing important within Australian Arts culture? 
Drawing is the fundamental practice to any successful visually creative outcome. To support this technique (through drawing exhibits) is to test artists, expanding ideas of what is and isn’t drawing through public engagement. I believe this will only strengthen all art practices, be it sculpture, video art, painting or drawing.

Why is the practice of drawing important to you?
Drawing is the story I write to converse with myself. It allows me to explore topics in existential ways whilst trying to discover the meaning to these truths I aim to uncover. It is a story I share with others on topics I struggle to express and understand.

Drawing is a technique that is so simple but can explore such complex themes. It is a challenge and difficult pleasure. Like a word becomes a sentence, becomes a story; a drawing is a mark that becomes a line, becomes a picture and pictures tell a thousand stories.