Speech by Nicholas Harding
judge of the Kedumba Drawing Award 2005

Firstly, on behalf of all the artists, past, present and future I’d like to acknowledge the passion and hard work of Jeffrey and Marlene Plummer, whose dedication makes the Kedumba Collection possible.

It is an honour to be this year’s judge and I congratulate the artists on their achievements and to paraphrase Brett Whiteley, someone who knew a lot about drawing, this was a difficult pleasure. My initial responses are always visceral but then these impulses have to survive repeated scrutiny. The more I looked the more the works I have selected revealed as their virtues grew.

I must begin by announcing my selections with two works whose level of achievement I cannot separate.

They are Ann Thomson’s “Continuum” and Lisa Roet’s “Pri-mate Hand”.

As different as the means and languages of these two works are, they share a dialogue with our primal compulsion to draw.

In Ann Thomson’s “Continuum” we find our innate need to draw given an adroit aesthetic structure that alludes to both organic and industrial forms as Ann’s mind, eye and hand skip and dance with thrust and parry across the paper. The soft shimmer of the subterranean-like void of the image in the bottom right is countered by the vigorous abundance of invented form elsewhere, in particular the budding bloom of the emerging vertical growth in the top left image.

In Lisa Roet’s work the primate’s hand is our evolutionary ancestor’s anatomical tool, capable of articulating thought and feeling with dexterous action. The Latin word digitus gave us the origin to the word digital which is now found everywhere in our computer oriented world and whose previous common usage as the word digit, means “finger”. Could the fingers here be gently clutched and if so what could be secreted within their grasp? On the other hand, could it be the premonition of a clenching fist? Lisa’s graphic power charges the image with a languid self-possession and ambiguity.

My other selection is Peter Kingston’s delightful “Denton’s Day”. This composition of suffused creamy light and shadowed foreground form where trees billow like clouds on an overcast day also reveals a tremble of melancholy as we dissolve into the warm glowing vacancy at the image’s centre. And the black dog, like Arthur Boyd’s crows, bears witness to the disposition of this atmosphere and aqueous vapour.

Congratulations to those I have selected.

Nicholas Harding
Judge 2005