Artist's Statement: Dryden Goodwin on Unseen: The Lives of Looking at the National Maritime Museum

| 02 March 2015

Dryden Goodwin on the trio of characters in his first feature-length film, Unseen: The Lives of Looking, at the National Maritime Museum

A photo of a man in a shirt in a garden
© Courtesy NMM
“In the exhibition I’m using drawings and film to observe and record three individuals, each with very particular relationships to looking: an eye surgeon, a human rights lawyer and a planetary explorer.

I’ve always been fascinated by questions around portraiture – you know, what it is to make a portrait of someone; the inability of any portrait, really, to truly capture someone, the attempt to do that, the attempt to distil something about someone’s physical likeness. And through spending time with them, also maybe to try and capture something about things that maybe can’t be easily seen.

The Royal Observatory and the National Maritime Museum have always been places, to me, that draw a focus to how, as human beings, we’ve tried to find ways of mapping huge expanses both on earth and also beyond, out into the universe. So there’s something very resonant, I think, about creating a piece of work which is about looking.

What’s fantastic about having the opportunity within The Queen’s House to show the drawings that were made within the film’s making is that these can be looked at closely within their inanimate state.

A photo of a drawing showing people looking out of telescopes through windows
Francis Place, Prospectus intra Cameram Stellatam© NMM
In the film you see them being made but here they become these pockets of time, these kind of captured experiences. With my own role as the weaver of these fragmented parts, there’s potential for a kinship of looking.

And then there are also the artefacts, the tools that have been used by the eye surgeon, the human rights lawyer, the planetary explorer and by myself, the artist.

A viewer is seeing it from my point of view when I’m making the drawing – the camera is in that position. They’re not given the whole picture, they’re given fragments and that’s really important because there’s an activity between what’s being seen and what’s being constructed in the imagination.

A montage photo showing an artist drawing various types of landscapes and portraits
© Courtesy NMM
I think that that’s part of what’s happening between what I’m doing and what these three individuals are doing in their work. There’s this kind of conversation that takes place across history.”

  • is at The Queen's House, London from March 5 - July 26 2015.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

Click on the picture to launch the gallery


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