PG Lecture: Rachel Goodyear on her practice

Rachel Goodyear specialised in sculpture during her Fine Art degree at Leeds. She had done a lot of drawing but saw it as a private activity and drawing generally as a supporting medium. But when she had left university, was working and had to manage her practice alongside, she found herself drawing on anything to hand, and ‘mapping the everyday.’

In the early 2000s she co-curated an art-run gallery space in the basement of an architects’ office which helped her learn about the business. She showed us a piece from a show there, Minimised Culture, the work of artists making work while also working at other jobs. Her piece, Mountains 2003, was a topography made of an accumulation of graphite drawings on crumpled found papers.

160310 PG lecture Rachel Goodyear 01 lioness


A serious illness in 2006 which left her with reduced concentration and energy led to a rethink of her practice towards a simple system to produce a series of small drawings. This is one of the 30 drawings that make up Unable to stop because they were too close to the line 2006.



160310 PG lecture Rachel Goodyear 02 bear-kissAs she recovered both her concentration and her energy, she wanted to draw more and in a more detailed, observational way. She worked on recognisable images put together in strange ways, commenting on issues of who is in control of the situation.  Here’s Bear Kiss 2009.

She was using herself as a model, initially for practical reasons of cost and availability. But then it became a theme of her work. She was now adding more detail and narrative to the work. But then, in an interesting echo of something Sarah Woodbine said at the DR@W event this week, she began to worry that her work was veering too close to fairy-tale with the drawing being mostly a means to an end – the finished image – rather than an important process in itself.

160310 PG lecture Rachel Goodyear 03 dancing-devils1

In 2011 she started expanding her practice, moving her drawings off the page with porcelain sculptures spilling into drawings that fell over the edge of the plinth or with animations created from hand-drawn frames on a loop, like this Dancing Devils 2011. I like the potential of this combination of static drawing and animation in the same piece. The light from the projection and the colour used in the drawings add interesting, different qualities.

160310 PG lecture Rachel Goodyear 05 Blind-Spots-th 160310 PG lecture Rachel Goodyear 06 Facing-the-wall-thShe thinks of all her drawings as being ‘fragments’; there is no clear distinction between a sketch and a finished drawing.  They can work together in a ‘cluster’ but editing is important. She says her latest work is less about characters. She has introduced new motifs, as well as new materials, like watercolour, and new techniques, and her drawings now have backgrounds!


She is also experimenting with ‘live drawing’, where her body is manipulated by dancers inspired by an improvised live music score. She draws with charcoal in her hands on big sheets of paper laid on the floor.