Joanna Moore, Artist
When I arrived to meet Joanna Moore at the end of an afternoon’s drawing in Christ Church, Spitalfields, a small crowd had gathered to peer over her shoulder at her work. As you can see from the photo above, it is an interior that presents a considerable challenge to an artist. I would not choose to sit down with a pen and paper and try to draw it, but this was precisely what Joanna had done. It was her first attempt and, in a single session lasting just a couple of hours, she succeeded with such style that as the drawing approached completion, people stopped to marvel at her facility with lines.
I took Joanna to the Market Coffee House afterwards, to celebrate her remarkable afternoon’s work, of which she appeared modestly unaware. In the Coffee House she opened a portfolio to show me her other drawings of Spitalfields. Last year, Joanna came to live in an old house in Hanbury St for a couple of months and while she was here, something extraordinary happened, she discovered a compulsion to draw. “Life started changing and I went part-time in my job because I needed to see how well I could draw. I realised that if I didn’t do it now, I’d never do it. And this coincided with moving to Spitalfields – I found it so inspiring here.” explained Joanna, recalling this last harsh Winter which proved such a cathartic and creative time in her life.
As Joanna produced an array of the fine drawings from her portfolio which record her time here, she spoke of the excitement of the circumstances from which they arose. “It was lonely living here in this beautiful old house, but I was determined to draw – separated from the people around me, I didn’t know anyone, I was just renting a basement. I bought myself fingerless gloves to work outside, but it was so cold I could only do an hour’s drawing at a time. You can deal with the cold in your head and body, though when your hands get cold, then you can’t control your fingers to draw anymore.”
It was apparent from these fluent drawings that Joanna’s achievement was far greater than simply retaining control of her fingers, but more than this, I was inspired by the personal discovery these works manifested. The nest of lines within these quiet yet sophisticated drawings trace the birth of a vibrant talent. Within the pluralism of contemporary art, there is a resurgence of drawing and a recognition that a talent and facility for draughtsmanship – which Joanna has found within herself – is not to be under-rated. In architectural drawing, most people struggle to get their lines in the right place when attempting to record structures, but for Joanna this is second nature, she can do it with ease, and brings wit and humanity along too.
Joanna never set out to draw, she trained as an architect yet became alienated at the idea of life in front of a computer terminal, switching to Art History in the middle of her studies. Since leaving Cambridge in 2007, Joanna worked as an architectural historian but found herself increasingly fascinated with looking at the buildings she was working on. Now, at twenty-five years old, Joanna has discovered who she is and exactly what she wants to do, embarking on a year’s course at the Prince’s Drawing School in Shoreditch this September.
“Now I’ve started, the more I draw, the faster I get and the freer I get – so when I go to drawing school I want to be pushed, because it’s something I have to do.” admitted Joanna, her eyes gleaming with determination and passion for her chosen course in life. The loss of income will mean moving back home to South London to live with her parents, though as both her mother and father also possess the talent for drawing, this could turn out to be the supportive environment Joanna needs to launch herself upon her new path.
“It’s a very pure pleasure,” said Joanna with a gentle smile, considering her portfolio and aspiring to find words for the dynamic experience of drawing,”That’s why I’m driven, it’s the purest art form you can get – to record what’s in front of you. I don’t want to use my drawings as the basis for paintings because I’m more interested in drawing the next thing.”
Too few people follow their enthusiasms, and so I was inspired to meet Joanna Moore at this crucial moment in her life. In learning of the special meaning that Spitalfields has for Joanna, I encountered a young woman of willpower, intelligence and talent commencing a great journey, astute yet open to all the possibilities that life can bring.
You can see more of Joanna’s drawings on her website www.town-mouse.co.uk and I hope you will see more here too because Joanna will be accompanying me upon some future assignments.
Petticoat Lane Market
Spitalfields Antique Market
Christ Church, Spitalfields