In December 2017, Fred Clark embarked on an artist’s residency at Borana game conservancy in Laikipia, Northern Kenya. Drawing the animals from life, in their natural habitat, he hoped to capture something of the wild encounter, and to convey a direct and dramatic perspective on a reality that is fast perishing around Africa. Since this residency Fred has continued to work on a series of large scale black and white drawings in his studio in London.
The culmination of this year-long work will be shown at NoHo Studios, London in November 2018. ‘On The Line’, references the precarious nature of the wild game in East Africa as well as the artists preoccupation with the endless possibilities of line drawing. Bold and linear, the black paintings, often poured, dripped and dribbled onto the paper with speed or drawn with charcoal, become a metaphor for the transience of their subjects.
Fred is an artist who has always had a feeling for line. He was awarded a bursary at the Royal Drawing School where he received a grounding in the importance of drawing
“Every day I draw, even if it’s a squiggle on a pad of paper. I am always curious about what extent my hands already feel what my eyes see.” Despite this, the drawing process remains mysterious to him: “I try to draw in a way that maximises my instinctive feel and takes away my rational eye. When drawing from life this happens automatically because I rarely take my eyes off my subject, but in the studio, I sometimes use a blindfold or draw on the floor to re-create the element of the unexpected.”
His influences for this show were the great draughtsmen and painters of black; Goya, Picasso, Rembrandt, Pollock, and, he says, his art teacher Maggi Hambling, who had a show of drawings at the British Museum in 2017.
“She is a massive inspiration, her drawings are so full of life, there is never any doubt that what you are looking at is real; seeing the show there just brought home to me how beautiful drawings on their own can be. It’s also nice to be able to ask for her opinion, something I can’t do with any of my other heroes.”
Fred is hoping that this show will highlight the need to protect Africa’s iconic wildlife as well as the amazing positive work being done by conservations like Borana; one of Africa’s newest rhino conservancies and one of its most successful: In 2013, black rhinos were reintroduced to Borana Conservancy: the first time rhinos had roamed on its land for more than 50 years, and they are now thriving. Proceeds from all the work sold will go directly towards conservation efforts on the ground at Borana.