Donna Huddleston (b. 1979) is our artist to watch this month. You can see her most recent drawing work, The Warriors (2016), at Camden Arts Centre as part of Making & Unmaking, an exhibition curated by Duro Olowu (b. 1965, Lagos). The large scale drawing (three metres by two metres wide) is made up of separate sheets of papers that combine to form a singular large work. When we visited Donna in her studio in October she was already working on the panels and telling us about how the work is a reference to a netball team she played in from her schooldays in Sydney, the ‘Woolloomooloo Warriors’. Mixing teenage memories, surreal landscapes and rhythmic compositions and patterns, the drawing is an impressive work of what drawing can be and places skills, control and colouring as part of it.
Six teenage girls are standing one after the other and almost look identical, their resemblance pointing to their being part of a ‘team’: either friendship, sisterhood and or simply sharing a delicate age growing up from being a child to young woman. Three drawings of the details of their shorts – shorts that are still owned by the artist – place a greater emphasis on her use of pattern and highlighting the astonishing intricacy of the pencil colouring. Standing like Egyptian goddesses, or Ancient Greek priestesses, The Warriors are imposing their rhythmic march into a scenery that can be a playground, a street or an arena. The piece is indisputably beautiful, with its melancholy, surrealism and tight rhythm, its ethereal pastel tones, typifying the artist’s unique and disciplined drawing style.
Donna Huddleston was born in Belfast and raised in Australia. She worked as a set designer for many years and her approach to image making as a device to tell a story in still recognisable in The Warriors. Her theatre experience is present in her performances of which Witch Dance, held in 2014 at the Drawing Room, was a great example. Based on the famous dance by Ausdruckstanz pioneer Mary Wigman in 1914, the performance dealt with the power of women. We hope to see more works of this multidisciplinary artist, following how the figure and ritual are hammered down in drawings and represented in performances.
Donna Huddleston studied at the National School of Art in Sydney and graduated in Stage Design at The National Institute for Dramatic Arts in Sydney. Recent exhibitions include Interstellar, Isabella Bortolozzi Galerie, Berlin (2015); Donna Huddleston: Smoke Garden, Galerie Juliette Jongma, Amsterdam (2011); Drawing Biennial 2013, Drawing Room, London and Donna Huddleston, Ursula Mayer, Karen Sargsyan And Theater Group ‘T Barreland, Galerie Juliette Jongma, Amsterdam (2008).
Ilaria Puri Purini
Donna Huddleston, The Warriors (2016) will be on display at Camden Arts Centre until 18 September 2016