Tuesday, April 24, 2012

[untitled: Football Portrait #10]

graphite & putty eraser/30x20cm

Continuing with the drawings processed from photocopies (enlarged & somewhat degraded in image quality) of reproductions of photographic portraits found in a vintage football annual, the portrait subject being one Terry Garbett, then (in 1970) & for some years of Watford, for whom he made the greater number of his total Football League appearances, another player of whom or whose career I have no personal recollection yet amongst those who ‘haunted’ that particular idealised period just prior to the development of my own interest in the game.
Although 1970 was something of an iconic year in terms of football history, featuring as it did the exotic glamour of the sublime Brazilian team triumphing in all its attacking glory at the World Cup held in Mexico, with also that tournament’s classic quarter final between England & West Germany, the England v. Brazil group match, Gordon Bank’s breath-taking save from Pele in that game, etc, still such stalwarts of the structure of domestic football beneath the higher echelons, such as Terry Garbett & the majority of the other players thus far portrayed in this series, & the teams for whom they played, exert their own particular inverse, perverse sense of glamour too, perhaps more so to those of us who have spent our time & passion supporting such lower division clubs, investing the project with yet more ‘redolence’.

Friday, April 20, 2012

'Here Are the Young Men'...

Further to the series of drawings based upon reference to portrait photographs of then-contemporary footballers as found within the pages of a 1970-vintage ‘Charles Buchan’s Soccer Gift Book’, as currently being processed, at this point of the ‘project’ as it’s developing it’s interesting to collect together the portraits drawn thus far & arrange them in a grid format in order to consider the intended cumulative effect of the series. Composed thus, the images appear in similar fashion & proximity to each other as they do upon the page(s) of the Annual from which the original photographic portraits are sourced, whilst also recalling, in nostalgic manner, the pages of, for instance, a Panini or other publisher sticker album or, indeed, an album of similarly (& addictively, pocket money-draining) collectable ‘cigarette’-type cards of the type illustrated in the recent Bob(by) Gough entry.

In the habitual contextual manner, such a cumulative series, produced with reference to photographic source material, also relates to another such as Gerhard Richter’s ’48 Portraits’ of historically eminent German men & particularly, as mentioned previously upon discovering them, Alan Brooks’ two series of pencil drawings of ‘influential authors’ & ‘artists in their studios’, or indeed any similar endeavour: one might also consider Warhol’s ‘Thirteen Most Wanted Men’, for example, sourced from a particular publication as are the footballer drawings.

For whatever reason, & without necessarily considering a title for the collected series of portraits, the opening refrain ‘Here are the young men...’ from Joy Division’s ‘Decades’ frequently recurs; there’s a certain poignancy, perhaps, in contemplating that the source photographs are now more than 40 years old & those subjects that are still with us (at least a couple of departures having been acknowledged, of course) that much older, even those who might only have been late teens or early twenties then into their sixties now, for all that the photographs (& the drawings from the printed reproductions of) freeze them at a certain moment in & (stylistic) period of time: the images serve as hauntological manifestations, traces, memorials, of other times & places - those, personally, just beyond the boundaries of memory & yet redolent & with a powerful ‘idealistic’ attraction.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Eric & Earnest...

graphite & putty eraser/30x20cm

Returning to the series of drawings based upon photographic portraits of footballers as found within the pages of a 1970 soccer annual, with enlarged & somewhat degraded-in-image-quality photocopies serving as the immediate visual reference from which the drawing is/was processed. Although in pure terms the visual subject matter is not the determining factor in the drawing, mark-making process - the act of & the recording of it, the traces the temporal & physical activity leaves behind in material form is, rather – still such imagery, iconography, serves a nostalgic purpose & is thus not without its own significance.

As has become habitual, a little light research into the playing career of the portrait subject Eric Skeels was undertaken, revealing him to have been a great stalwart of Stoke City, making a record number of 592 appearances for the club between 1959 – 1976 (their very own ‘Mr Dependable’), thus into the period when my interest in football began & developed, being a name, indeed, I recall from that youthful time, without being aware of the full details & significance of the scope of Eric’s commitment to the cause.

Given the 1970-vintage of the source image, it was interesting then to find further images of the estimable Mr Skeels across a range of years, from earlier in his Football League career to its twilight, but more than that it was particularly so to discover evidence on a football memorabilia website of an autographed example of a copy of the very same image from which the drawing is sourced, clearly, given its format & presentation, as featured in that same 1970 – 71 edition of ‘Charles Buchan’s Soccer Gift Book’ as has come into my possession & also, then, a representation of the original full-person colour photographic image from which the portrait as it appears in the annual has evidently been cropped: both of these images are presented below.

Towards the end of his career, in the mid-Seventies, a then decidedly craggy-looking Eric took to sporting very much the classic Peter Wyngarde ‘Jason King’ look, a comparison too good not to make & present, all in the interests of an abiding cultural interest in the history of men’s grooming, of course: quite remarkable. There’s a certain sense of nostalgia, too, present within the image taken from ‘Shoot’ magazine, in considering that I might well have owed a copy of the very issue in which it appeared, & thus the poster itself, being of a collector of the publication during that era – indeed, given my tendency at the time, it might well have formed part of the collage of such indiscriminately papering my bedroom walls. That ‘Admiral’ brand sash-designed shirt is so redolent of those times too, such imagery really is fertile hauntological ground…

As too are such period team photographs, not least as presented in the form of ‘Ty-Phoo’ tea cards...

Stoke City c. 1965

Stoke City, Football League Cup winners, 1972

Friday, April 13, 2012

Back on Track...

Taking a break from the football, at least after bringing the processing of the Bob Gough drawing to a close during the morning (& not counting the reading of 'Tor!’, Ulrich Hesse-Lichtenberger's illuminating history of the game & its development in Germany), yesterday afternoon offered the opportunity for another pedestrian journey along the double black lined routes of the old, pre-relocation stamping grounds, & thus, with a certain inevitability, the accompanying finding besides &/or upon examples of discarded & subsequently inadvertently flattened aluminium can ‘roadkill’.

In the interests of the continuation of the visual documentary project recording such findings for posterity & also with the intention, still, that they might one day provide the source images for a substantial development into drawing &/or painting, photographs were duly taken of what proved to be not the anticipated one or two finds of ‘roadkill’ but an incredible eight instances to be found along a relatively few yards of the course of the same stretch of corrective road markings, with the evidence (re)presented below.

The usual & once-familiar features of the various scenes can be observed in place: the modernist monochrome of the textured tarmac road surface with those horizontally-traversing ‘zips’ of the closely-hued & -toned pair of parallel lines laid over the original, erroneously applied double yellow lines of paint (in fact, the topmost lines present a second layer of ‘black’, the various, separate layers visible in ‘archaeological’ traces in places where surface deterioration & erosion has occurred) & of course the still life objects of the cans flattened onto the road surface & embedded into the picture plane as photographically framed.

Note too how some of the cans’ painted, branded surfaces have been subject to wear & tear & rusting, presenting a closer visual analogy to the abraded ‘double black lines’, & also the presence of fallen yellow blossom eddying around or nearby some of the cans, very close in colour to the visible yellow of the original lines, another visual echo, & somewhat poignant too in its discarded nature.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

'Van the Man'

graphite & putty eraser/30x20cm

Continuing with the series of drawings sourced from portraits of then-current footballers as found within the ‘gallery’ pages of the 1970-71 edition of a soccer annual, processed with direct reference to enlarged, slightly degraded photocopies of these original images, thus explaining in part at least the particular aesthetic of this example & the project in general to date.

Other than its specific context, as confirmed by the lettering below the portrait that forms an integral element of the drawn image as a whole, there’s something also about this particular photographic image that suggests more than a passing affinity with those that would be found displayed – gracing, even – the windows & walls of men’s barber shops, or gentlemen’s hairdressers, of the period (& long beyond, in many an instance) carefully & glossily-coiffed as the subject appears, with cultivated sideburns too, adding a further note of cultural nostalgia & hauntological resonance &/or poignancy to proceedings.

In the course of the habitual light research into the subject’s playing career (this particular project is playing all-too easily into the hands of my anorakish tendencies regarding football statistics), it was also interesting to encounter another photographic image, taken the better part of a decade hence from the photo from the reproduction of which the drawing was processed, of the ‘Bobby’ Gough I vaguely recall playing then for Colchester, towards the end of his Football League days at least: note the change in later-70s hairstyle (obviously a dedicated follower of fashion, as they say, even if not necessarily at the cutting edge, if the pun can be excused) & the overall quite marked evidence of the ageing process.

In a further twist, then, I happened by a most intriguing coincidence to discover another image, of a cigarette-style card issued by the ‘Sun’ newspaper circa 1979 as one of a collectable series (of 1,000, it transpires) of then-contemporary footballers, featuring a painting of a ‘B. Gough (Colchester United)’ obviously based upon a photograph of a similar vintage & being thus another artistic representation of, which is all rather fascinating to observe & consider – one wonders whom the artist might (have) be(en), for instance.

Such a dialogue between images – photographic, painted & drawn – & also across eras provides another level of interest to the project, & research potential into it, that should be explored & exploited as matters develop: it’s all good stuff.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Going for the Burn...

graphite & putty eraser/30x20cm

Presenting the most recent of the ‘nostalgic’ drawings of former footballers of 1960s – 70s vintage.

The slightly bleached appearance of the drawing, lacking as it is in a great deal of tonal variety or subtlety, can be attributed in part - other than essential technical issues of the materials & process applied to its making - to the facts that the original photograph upon which, via a few degrees of separation, it is based appears to have been taken with the subject illuminated by flashlight, & also that its immediate source of reference is an enlarged photocopy, slightly degraded in image quality, of the original reproduction as found in the ‘Charles Buchan’s Soccer Gift Book’ 1970-71 edition, the particular ‘hauntological’ document, from a selection of recently acquired examples, that is serving as the inspiration & source of images for the project-as-progressing. Such a 'faded' aesthetic might aid the sense of nostalgia intended to be conveyed by the drawings, individually & also as a series of a certain period in time, 'historical' for all that it fairly recent.

The portrait subject of the drawing, Dennis Burnett, another member of the intriguing gallery featuring not necessarily the biggest stars of the day but rather those who operated in the more obscure &/or less glamorous reaches of the Football League, is one such player whose career encompassed such time as I began taking an interest in the game, circa 1974, up until that point being a stalwart of Millwall for a number of years but then transferring to Hull City & later on to Brighton.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Going Dutch?

Today the opposite of tomato is 'different levels of the Devil's company'

graphite & putty eraser/30x20cm

Another in the sequence of drawings sourced from portraits of former footballers contained within the pages of the 1970-vintage ‘Charles Buchan’s Soccer Gift Book’, using enlarged & consequently slightly degraded photocopies of which as the immediate point of visual reference.

The player represented here is one Carl Slee, another name previous unknown to me, active during the period immediately prior to my developing an interest in the game & for which I seem most nostalgic, then plying his trade for Swansea (City, as they’d recently been renamed, upgraded from ‘Town’) before leaving the Football League within a couple of years to join Merthyr, another illustration of the transience & ephemerality of the footballer’s career, the photograph the trace of a particular moment in time, as, effectively, is the legend printed in the book beneath its reproduction & included as part of the drawn image, with the drawing serving as a trace of the photocopy(-as-trace) of the reproduction, its physical presence being a trace, a record, of the drawing process itself.

In the manner of such things, it’s amusing to note that the official Swansea City online archive describes Carl Slee as a ‘hard-tackling defender’ whereas he’s affectionately recalled as ‘Clogger’ on a fans’ forum!