“When I was a child my family would rent a small farm cottage in Snowdonia. On wonderful walks in the mountains I would catch glimpses of brightly clad figures high up on seemingly impossible rock faces. Years later I found myself in Cornwall at the great sweeping faces of granite cliffs poised between the sea and the sky. My drawings are an attempt to express my excitement at these landscapes, and the sheer drama of the places that I am drawn to.
I count myself very fortunate to live in such a beautiful part of England. Dartmoor is virtually on my doorstep.
All my work is intimately bound up with the landscape. My life-long passion for walking and climbing has led me to explore the magnificent South West coastline and its cliff faces, especially in West Penwith, that part of Cornwall beyond St. Ives to Land’s End. The sweeping granite and slate faces, the quality of the light, the elemental landscape where land meets sea hold an irresistible fascination for me as both a climber and an artist.
I use graphite and compressed charcoal to emphasise the theatricality and the strong chiaroscuro of these impressive places. Each drawing portrays a particular climbing cliff. I identify each one very precisely, not only by the name it’s been given by climbers, but also by an Ordnance Survey grid reference and a small map.
The drawings are nearly all about 100 x 80 cm on a heavy, slightly textured paper. I “map” the drawings out with a hard graphite pencil, which leaves a slight indentation. When I work over this initial line with compressed charcoal, the indented graphite reads as a white line, almost as if etched. I use a finely sharpened eraser for large white areas, I scratch through the charcoal with a scalpel, and for the brightest whites I leave expanses of paper untouched.
Profile of the artist
Kit Surrey SGFA was born in Birmingham and studied at Southampton College of Art and Wimbledon School of Art, graduating in Theatre Design in 1967. He has lived in Devon for many years, working all over the UK and abroad as a freelance theatre designer and a film art director. His drawing Granite Faces XIII, Land’s End, West Penwith, Cornwall won the Stabilo Award for Drawing at DRAW 11, the Society’s 90th Annual Open Exhibition. Kit has exhibited regularly with the SGFA, the South West Academy and the Alpine Club, and in 2013 his drawings were selected for the Draw 13 exhibition of the Royal West of England Academy in Bristol.