“I had always enjoyed the simplicity and beauty of line. But I found a way of working with pencil that had real depth of tone, too. And I wanted to start drawing in a bigger, stronger way.
I was also researching ideas around the experience of looking. I found that I could leave out quite a lot of an image and it would still be understood. Rather than weakening the work of art, this approach strengthened it.
An early piece created in this way was Ian, a drawing of a friend. At the time I was a mature student in the BA programme at Wimbledon College of Arts. The reaction during the crit was very positive. Some even thought he looked like a super hero.
Before this I had been making drawings that looked abstract, sort of glorified doodles in which I tried to remember and replicate marks in drawings I had made before. In the photo at right I’m creating one for an exhibition at Wimbledon College of Arts.
This work led to the featured drawing, Bodies 1. It was so large I had to draw it whilst lying on my studio floor (not comfortable!). This married up line work and tonal work with my love of life drawing, which I had taught.
I then drew Bodies, in which the figures were even larger. Some large areas were left out, others were heavily worked, and nearly all line was eradicated. This piece was selected as part of the Drawing Prize exhibition at Wimbledon. Thanks to the very positive feedback on this piece and other work, I was presented with the Rootstein Hopkins Foundation Student Award, as their focus that year was drawing. The award paid my MA fees. Without it I would not have been able to undertake my MA studies.
These ideas of focusing on the most important aspect of an image have influenced a great deal of my subsequent work in watercolours, oils and pencil drawings.
An example is Self-Portrait and Other People IV, one of a series that uses either very large or small self portraits to explore ideas of emotions that we all share.
Viewers say they find them very moving. Self Portrait and Other People IV sold when it was first exhibited – the larger ones didn’t!”
Profile of the artist
Jill Iliffe ASGFA lives and works in London and divides her time between her studio and part time work at a college as Head of Arts and Community Learning. She dropped out of art studies at age 19 and never thought she would start again, but 21 years later Jill returned to art and achieved a BA and an MA at Wimbledon College of Arts. This changed her life entirely. Making art is again an integral part of how Jill lives.
Since then Jill has exhibited widely. She has shown her art with the V&A, the Peoples History Museum, the Rugby Art Gallery and Museum and the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, as well as other public galleries and a number of privately owned galleries. She recently had her first solo exhibition, and in 2013 was elected as an Associate Member of the Society of Graphic Fine Art.
For more about Jill and her art, please visit her web site www.jilliliffeart.co.uk