The judges - AJ/Kingspan Benchmark Sketch a facade
If we take a sketch as being ‘a hasty or undetailed drawing or painting often made as a preliminary study’, then Paul Middleton’s drawings come closest to that definition. The things that bother me about Adrian Baynes’ drawing is that I think it’s actually more of a presentation drawing.
I feel less that way about Richard Hutchinson’s work (even though you could say it’s quite fastidious) because I get a sense of his struggle to capture the materials of the structure in pencil on the paper.
One of the reasons that Paul Middleton has not been my front- runner, is because that struggle is rather lost in both his pen and pencil marks; there is little unevenness in his lines, which makes the energy of the picture less interesting.
This has definitely got me thinking about how quickly sketches must be done in order to describe them as sketches. I know I take ages if I make a sketch myself - speed doesn’t always satisfy the level of detail required to get a full impression of the subject.
Having said that, I can see that Middleton’s drawings best fit the definition outlined above.
Had Richard Hutchinson won, I’d have been in agreement, as his drawing was flawless and, frankly, left me in awe. But, in my opinion it was a finished rendering, not a sketch, though stunningly executed. It’s funny that Adrian Baynes looked like the favourite as we all shortlisted him but in the end he was third, in my opinion, for the reason you mentioned, it is a presentation drawing.
I take the point about the preciseness of Paul Middleton’s lines but for me, a sketch is not about quickness at all, it’s about observation, done on the spot, on the site and in real time. As fas as I’m concerned, Middleton’s work meets my definition of a sketch better.
The other judges may have all come to separate conclusions. It comes down also to subjective opinion, a drawing that just gets you, reaches the parts where other drawings can’t reach.
It was a great debate, I enjoyed it and it has made me think about how we define sketch and drawing and I’m heartened that there are architects and students still interested enough in hand drawing for the competition to encourage 500 submissions. That, I think, has been the real success.
There’s a confidence in Paul Middleton’s work that shows that the artist understands how to compose an image on the page and how buildings fit together; how they are actually constructed. I also recognise the parts of the city he’s drawn, not through the iconic nature of the subject - he’s drawn ordinary, everyday stuff - but more by the look and feel of the townscape and materiality. These are the facades we see when we look out of train windows and see the backs of housing, or when we’re taking a shortcut. It may be everyday stuff, but it looks beautiful.
In the purest sense, Paul has sketched a facade (or two), probably on site, and that puts him above Adrian Baynes for me. Bayne’s drawing is very cool. You’d frame it. It feels classic. But it also feels like a presentation drawing, and doesn’t crackle with energy the way a winning sketch should do.
Richard Hutchinson’s work is intense, gorgeous, painstaking. It doesn’t quite show evidence of being truly special however - it’s just very, very good.
The artist is quite clearly talented, but this isn’t the best drawing they will do. A runner-up in my opinion.