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

More Artist's Statements from Culture24:

Hew Locke on creating a naval intervention at HMS Belfast

Alex Chinneck on hanging a car upside down outside the Southbank Centre

Bob and Roberta Smith on running against Michael Gove in the 2015 general election
Latest comment: >Make a comment
More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
  • Back to top
  • | Print this article
  • | Email this article
  • | Bookmark and Share
    Back to article
    Your comment:
    DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted at are the opinion of the comment writer, not Culture24. Culture24 reserves the right to withdraw or withhold from publication any comments that are deemed to be hearsay or potentially libellous, or make false or unsubstantiated allegations or are deemed to be spam or unrelated to the article at which they are posted.
    Museum Crush digest sign up ad