Donna Huddleston, The Exhausted Student

The Exhausted Student (detail)
The Exhausted Student (detail)Courtesy the artist. Photograph by Angus Mill.



In her first solo exhibition in a public gallery in the UK, Donna Huddleston presents a new series of drawings in pencil, colour and silverpoint within a theatrical environment.

The hours were long, the regime was brutal…
The students of theatre design were, it transpired, supposed to suffer. To
collude with a culture of professional crises.
The world of the theatre, of actors and acting – of the production – was
heady and strange. Small wonder that Tennessee Williams said that his
female characters – “a woman, an important, powerful woman” – were
announced by the arrival of a fog in his subconscious; and this fog came
with the pungent smell of radiators hissing and clanking and rattling in
rooms where he wrote, dreamed, fucked, starved and prayed, in New
Orleans and St Louis and New York.
The watercolours and character sketches she touted around the hotels,
waiting for her father – the oldest living poet – to finish his final poem.
The student took it all in. Took in the all-nighters, too; got jaundiced.
Swore she saw her tutor turn into a lizard.
As a child at the convent school in Sydney, the student had noticed that
the Eternal Flame had gone out – was scolded by a nun for asking why.
“That created a gap.” she said, later.
“Yes, thanks and all praise.”
“So that one of God’s creatures could scramble home, safe and free. A little act of grace, honey.”
“I can make it downhill but not back up.”
“I’ll get you back up the hill.”