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Joanna Moore, Artist

November 5, 2012
by the gentle author

Come and see Joanna Moore’s drawings at The Artists of Spitalfields Life opening at Ben Pentreath Ltd on Wednesday 7th November.

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. A couple of years ago, 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 that 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 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 five years ago, Joanna worked as an architectural historian but found herself increasingly fascinated with looking at the buildings she was working on. Then, at twenty-five years old, Joanna discovered what she wanted to do, embarked on a year’s course at the Prince’s Drawing School in Shoreditch and now works as a freelance illustrator.

“The more I draw, the faster I get and the freer I get,” admitted Joanna, her eyes gleaming with determination and passion for her chosen course. “It’s a very pure pleasure,” she continued with a gentle smile, considering her portfolio and aspiring to find words for the dynamic experience of drawing,”That’s why I’m driven, because 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.

Princelet St

Trinity Green Almshouses, Whitechapel

The Brick Lane Beigel Bakery

At the Tower of London

Christ Church, Spitalfields

Drawings copyright © Joanna Moore

You may also like to read about

The Return of Joanna Moore

Joanna Moore & The Spitalfields Nobody Knows

Joanna Moore & The Whitechapel Nobody Knows

Joanna Moore’s Drawathon

Joanna Moore at the Tower of London

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