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Joanna Moore, Artist

June 14, 2010
by the gentle author

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 and I hope you will see more here too because Joanna will be accompanying me upon some future assignments.

Princelet St

Petticoat Lane Market

Wentworth St

Spitalfields Antique Market

Fournier St

Christ Church, Spitalfields

5 Responses leave one →
  1. Peter Walker permalink
    January 8, 2011

    I’m not surprised at the talent this young lady has, as a family we have been interested in her progress over the years, and as I worked with her mother for a few years, I know that in the future the work will be fully recognised. A great talent that should be nurtured and allowed to progress fully. Good luck and all the very best!

  2. AnKa permalink
    April 25, 2011

    Fantastic! I’m not an artist but I can see the ease and joy in these drawings with which they were done. Good luck for Joanna’s career and for your working together.

  3. Colin Thomas permalink
    May 3, 2011

    As an engineer working on the design of offshore oil and gas platforms I wish the drawings I produced were as pleasurable to look at as Joanna’s!

    A pleasure to look at. Thank you!

  4. Sonia Murray permalink
    August 19, 2012

    Absolutely wonderful! The use of colour washes to make these joyous drawings “pop” is inspired. Joanna, is it possible to buy Christmas cards of your Fournier St drawing, with 2013 substituted for 2010? If so, please let me know. This is such a lovely scene, with the church spire and the cat on the roof – I’d very much like to send it to friends at Christmas!

  5. Amanda permalink
    July 29, 2013

    What a wonderful and inspiring tale…I lve the fact you were overwhelmed with needing to draw like it was born in you! Your story makes us all want to pick a pencil up and have a go! I wish you continuing success and glad you have been brave enough to switch to doing art instead of architecture – something some of us wish we had done too!! I have sent the link to my family to look at this!

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