24 August to 6 October 2013
Pallant House Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of travel sketchbooks by the Canadian artist Keith Miller. Produced over 40 years, the books document Miller's extensive globetrotting, from the waterways of South East Asia to the crowded villages of Central America, providing an extraordinary visual overview of how the world has changed over the past four decades. Varying from pocket-sized to album-like volumes, the sketchbooks capture the people, places, ports and architecture the artist has encountered on his way, each a unique graphic record of a trip.
Miller created his first travel sketchbook in 1968 while on a cross-Canada bicycle trip with a friend. The appeal was in both the pleasure of painting on the spot and in satisfying the desire to have a visual record of a trip. Originally an accompaniment to a weekly newspaper column, Miller's travel sketchbooks are a meeting of art and journalism, but also a unique memory aid - an antidote to the conventional holiday snap.
Choosing in-situ sketches over photography give the works a personal quality, allowing Miller to present his own vision, rather than a carbon copy. "The problem with a lot of photography is that it captures a lot of extraneous detail while missing the main story", says Miller. "If you sit down and draw or paint something you are essentially editing as you go along - emphasising some details of the scene in front of you and ignoring others. What you decide to leave out can be as important as what's included"
The exhibition reflects the wide variety of approaches to drawing and different media that Miller employs in his work including watercolour, pastel, pen and ink and even collage. Complementing ‘Eduardo Paolozzi: Collaging Culture', currently in the main rooms of the Gallery (until 13 Oct), the exhibition features examples of Miller's ‘mail art', comprised of found objects such as envelopes, stamps, and airline stickers. which have been used to construct a narrative.
Many of Miller's sketches are simple and subtle in design, yet infused with sentiment and meaning. ‘The Navigation Light' captures the heat and colour of the tropics, but also depicts a particularly happy and productive time on the island in Malaysia. It also carries a certain poignancy for Miller, as the tree and wooden tower which are depicted have now been replaced by a modern yacht club building.
A self-confessed ‘lazy traveller', Miller likes to return to places he has known in the past, and many of the images record buildings and streetscapes that are long gone - providing an extraordinary visual overview of how the world has changed over the past forty years. The changes are mostly the result of burgeoning development, but sometimes natural disasters, such the devastation caused by the 2004 tsunami on the island of Phi Phi.
As Miller says: "Some of the older drawings from the 1970s and 80s have begun to look a little like historic documents. The economic energy unleashed in the last few decades has transformed the world and the nature of travel itself. Budget airlines now service Europe and Asia, putting an end to gruelling ten hour bus trips. The world may be a more crowded and homogenised place, but at least it is a more accessible place."
Notes to Editors:
Keith Miller will be available for interviews. Please contact Kate Davey on firstname.lastname@example.org or Emma Robertson on email@example.com for details.
Keith Miller will give a talk at the Gallery on Thurs 22 August, 6pm. Tickets are £8.50 (Friends £7, Students £7.50). Bookings: 01243 774557.
A new publication, 'Keith Miller: Travel Drawings and Watercolours, 1970-2013' has been produced to coincide with the exhibition and is available to buy from the Gallery Bookshop.