‘Drawing Room at 20’ Artists’ Reflections: Mark Dion & Simryn Gill

Online talk Tuesday 3rd May 2022

In 2022, Drawing Room celebrates its 20th birthday. To mark the anniversary we are looking back at momentous exhibitions from our recent and more distant past and talking to the artists and contributors who made them happen, examining the centrality of drawing to creative practice from the perspective of artists. In the third of this yearlong series we look back to the exhibition Modern Nature (2019) which explored our interaction and fascination with plants in relation to aspects of social change, personal well-being and scientific research.

About the speakers: 

Mark Dion (born August 28, 1961) is an American conceptual artist best known for his use of scientific presentations in his installations. His work examines the manner in which prevalent ideologies and institutions influence our understanding of history, knowledge and the natural world. The job of the artist, according to him, is to "go against the grain of dominant culture, to challenge perception and convention." By locating the roots of environmental politics and public policy in the construction of knowledge about nature, Dion questions the objectivity and authoritative role of the scientific voice in contemporary society, tracking how pseudo-science, social agendas and ideology creep into public discourse and knowledge production. Some of his well known works include Neukom Vivarium(2006), a permanent outdoor installation and learning lab for the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle, WA.

Born 1959 Singapore, Simryn Gill lives and works in Sydney. Gill often works with materials and imagery from her immediate surroundings, making large series in processes that include photography, drawing, printing, making collections, and making and altering objects. She also works with texts, writes and publishes. Selected solo exhibitions include Soft Tissue, Jhaveri Contemporary, Mumbai (2019); Passing Through, Utopia Art, Sydney (2019); Works on Paper, Kohta, Helsinki (2018); Traveling Light, Lund Konsthalle, Lund (2017); The (hemi)cycle of leaves and paper, Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent (2016); Floating, three accounts, Tracy Williams Ltd, New York (2015); and Hugging the Shore, NTU Centre for Contemporary Art, Singapore (2015).

Katharine Stout has been Director of Focal Point Gallery in Southend-on-Sea since May 2019, previously Deputy Director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London since 2017 and Head of Programme there since 2013. Stout oversaw the ICA’s creative output as well as curating exhibitions with Morag Keil, Richard Hamilton, Tauba Auerbach, Hito Steyerl, Prem Sahib, Betty Woodman and Sonia Boyce. Prior to the ICA, Stout was Curator of Contemporary Art at Tate Britain (1999 to 2013), curating exhibitions with artists such as Gary Hume and Patrick Keiller, as well as the Art Now series, Turner Prize exhibitions and Collections displays. In 2001, she co-founded the Drawing Room with Mary Doyle and Kate MacFarlane. She serves on the Board of Artist’s Studio organisation, Tannery Arts and is Co-Chair of the South East Creative Economies Network (SECEN). She has written numerous texts on contemporary art and artists and her book Contemporary Drawing: 1960s to Now was published by Tate in 2014.