The Drawing Paper

The Darwing Paper, Mike Carney and Jon Barraclough. Photo c. McCoy Wynne

The Drawing Paper (Jon Barraclough and Mike Carney) (

Members of the Royal Standard studio, Jon Barraclough and Mike Carney curate, design and publish The Drawing Paper, a not-for-profit, independently published, newspaper-based gallery focussed on contemporary drawing practice. It is distributed freely around selected galleries and establishments in Liverpool, the UK and beyond.  They have published four issues since 2010 and continue to provide a platform for local, Liverpool based artists, exposing their work to a much wider audience, as well as linking other artists up with one another.

Q & A – The Drawing Paper (Mike Carney)

Q: Tell us a little about yourself

I’m just a down to earth Liverpool lad with creative leanings. I don’t have a traditional fine art background – I’m a practising graphic designer by trade with almost 20 years experience. Alongside this I’ve been developing my interest in drawing, I publish Drawing Paper with Jon Barraclough and make music. I’m reasonably good at football and competent in the kitchen

Q: Can you tell us a little more about the ethos or thinking behind your work?

Drawing Paper is an independent newspaper based gallery of sorts and platform for drawing in all its forms. We showcase work from emerging, established, local and international artists. It’s a not for profit project and logo free zone, funded and made possible by fees collected from its contributing artists (which pays for printing and some distribution).

My drawings are somewhat minimal, intricate and restrained abstract explorations. Working with fine line ink pens, pencils and dry transfer shapes and textures, I have devised a visual vocabulary of controlled geometric elements alongside loose, expressive gestures. I enjoy the compositional challenge trying to marry these differing elements together. I like the contrast between the controlled, precise details and the expressive marks. This interest stems from my work as a designer where I’m frequently working with software which allows for absolute control and precision. When I’m drawing there’s no undo button so I have to embrace the mistakes and accidents. Sometimes I have a visual starting point in my head, other times I allow drawings to evolve more intuitively. Possibly in an unconscious attempt to emulate the computer screen I tend work on bright smooth or glossy paper.

Q: How/when did you start making art?

Having not really drawn much since my school days and foundation course almost 20 years ago, my interest was sparked again by Drawing Paper partner Jon Barraclough about 10 years ago after a particularly fine homEmade Thai curry at his house one winters eve. I began developing my practice more seriously when I joined The Royal Standard in 2007.

Q: What brought you to Liverpool?

I was born in Warrington but my parents moved back to Liverpool when I was 2 years old and I’ve been here ever since apart from a couple of years studying Graphic Design up the road in Blackpool during the early 90s.

Q: Where do you get inspiration from?

My creative friends, music, books, collections of things, curious objects, overheard conversations, trawling the internet, the countryside… inspiration can come from almost anything.

Q: What do you find inspirational about Liverpool?

Cliched, but there’s always something interesting going on.

Q: What would your dream project be?

Designing my own book showcasing my drawings and having a generous budget to work with.

Q: Do you think there is enough support for emerging artists?

Perhaps the local art establishments could pay a little more attention to talented locals by making purchases and offering opportunities to exhibit in addition to their outward looking programmes and agendas.

Q:  What do you like/what would you change about the Liverpool art scene?

There needs to be more contemporary and critically engaging independent spaces and pop up projects and we need to retain our creative people. Liverpool is traditionally a transient city with people coming and going all the time but I would like to see more people staying and establishing things as they develop more skills and gain confidence.

Q: What other exhibitions/shows/events are you looking forward to in 2012?

The Biennial, Cy Twombly at Tate Liverpool and The John Moores Painting Prize at The Walker. All the shows at The Royal Standard of course.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

On my laptop.

Q: Do you have any hidden talents? 

I know this chap called Bantam Lions who makes electronic music. You should check him out.

Q & A – The Drawing Paper (Jon Barraclough)

Q. Tell us a little about yourself

I’m a 54 year old emerging artist, father of three great sons who are growing up, at last, and giving me (some) time to do my thing. I’ve been an engineer, worked in a shop and, after art school, made a living either as a teacher or a graphic designer. Around fifty I began to think I had something to say as an artist.

Q. Can you tell us a little more about the ethos or thinking behind your work?

Drawing Paper was mostly Mike’s idea – but I was very happy to join him and to get behind it. We both love the printed object and we both love drawing . Our appreciation of the power and magic of drawing, in the broadest sense, and our experience of being visual communicators gives us a shared sense of excitement about drawing – and we are moved by very similar kinds of work. Drawing Paper is therefore a coming together of our shared obsession and it retains an independent, lo-fi  feel that people like. If someone else was doing Drawing Paper I’d collect it and want to be in it.

Q. How/when did you start making art?

When my dad taught me how to draw from imagination. I would watch him with fascination as he created something out of nothing on a scrap of paper. I’d be about 5 or 6. Then I had a painting of a cityscape chosen to be in the Bradford School’s Junior Art exhibition in 1966, at the Cartwright Memorial Hall. I’d seen work there by Henry Moore and Hockney and figured I was on the way to fame and fortune.

Q. What brought you to Liverpool

I’m an estranged Yorkshireman.  I came to Liverpool from London, where I had my first studio, because I wanted more time and space and because I was offered some teaching at the Poly. It was a definite choice to come to Liverpool though. I knew I had to get back up North, to reality.

Q. Where do you get inspiration from?

Everything and nothing. Or maybe the connectedness of all things and the traces we leave behind us.

Q. What do you find inspirational about Liverpool?

It’s pride, it’s scale and it’s faded grandeur. There’s a romantic and edgy feel about it too.

Q. What would your dream project be?

To open a drawing centre in Liverpool. To write a sensible, useful, and helpful book about drawing.

Q. Do you think there is enough support for emerging artists?


Q. What do you like/what would you change about the Liverpool art scene?

A greater sense of collective passion, ownership and sharing between institutions and artists – and the audiences they reach.

Q. What can we expect from the work you’ll show at the Liverpool Art Prize exhibition?

Drawing and hospitality.

Q. What other exhibitions/shows/events are you looking forward to in 2012?

The Liverpool Biennial, Cy Twombly and David Hockney at the RA. Oh and the show I’ll being putting on at the Victoria Gallery and Museum in June with artists from New York and Louisiana.

Q. Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

Drawing Paper number 15? Happy in my work?

Q. Do you have any hidden talents?


Robyn Woolston

Robyn Woolston Photo c. McCoy Wynne

Robyn Woolston (

Robyn Woolston’s practice involves installation, photography, moving image, print and on-line projects.  She is passionate about people, relationships and the way the world works.  This is reflected in her work, which raises questions concerning social, economic and ecological perspectives.

Q & A – Robyn Woolston

Q: Tell us a little about yourself

-I am an artist and filmmaker. I began my career working in broadcast television but soon sought a platform that offered me greater freedom and ‘space’ to create. After being commissioned to Produce and Direct a short documentary for ITV called ‘Émigré’ I decided to study Fine Art full-time.

These days I install large-scale sculptural interventions created out of ‘waste’. As well as working with lens-based media in terms of Artists Film and Video / Photography. I also work with everyone from primary school children through to prisoners, as well as vulnerable and hard to reach adults, across a myriad of Art in Education settings.

Q: Can you tell us a little more about the ethos or thinking behind your work?

-I play with the symbols and products that a culture uses to create its meanings. My sculptural interventions comment on the co-dependent relationship between consumption and power, identity and autonomy, and the documentation and harvesting of processes within the socio-psycho geography of our collective experience.

-For example, we are fundamentally disconnected from the ‘waste’ that is generated by the commercialised systems that service, and profit from, our basic needs. I’m talking specifically here about the large-scale waste that is, in turn, creating large scale impacts upon the planet and our quality of life. Many corporate processes are fundamentally, and structurally, orientated to benefit their shareholders rather than the larger community. Thereby putting profit before people.

Q:  How/when did you start making art?

– My earliest memories involve being immersed in ‘making’ whether that was drawing, painting, pasting or sticking; as well as long summer nights exploring the world on my bike until the sun-set. So, really, I don’t remember a day when art and nature weren’t a fundamental part of the way in which I ‘process’ life. They are both a window and a mirror.

Q: What brought you to Liverpool?

-I took my Fine Art degree with Wirral Met College through John Moores University and stayed for the Capital of Culture in 2008. The possibilities really started opening up in terms of the city and its creative networks and in many ways it’s continued to flourish despite the fact we’ve lost some key players.

Q: Where do you get inspiration from?

– Systems, processes, patterns, cultural idiosyncrasies and perpetuated memes. Plus ‘waste’ products from the socio-political to the literal.

Q: What do you find inspirational about Liverpool?

– I love port cities; they have an ability to mirror the tide in terms of the delivery of ideas, people and fresh air to the shore. Each day new truths alight upon the city then flow back out to sea, having been realised, experienced and digested. It’s a pattern that repeats bringing life and energy to Liverpool’s people and places

Q:  What would your dream project be?

– I’d love to work with harvested plastic waste from the North Pacific Gyre. It’s the world’s largest eco-system yet the waste contained within it covers an area larger than Texas. It’s so far out to sea that it seems there’s a complete ‘disconnect’ in terms of personal responsibility on the part of the polluters.  The responsibility lies with both on-shore and off-shore processes and for me the waste is representative of non-circular thinking. Within holistic paradigms every part of the process is a part of the people that create, make, use and utilise its reason-for-being, it’s circular. There is no disconnection as the waste is as important as the product or service that generates it.

Q: Do you think there is enough support for emerging artists?

-It can be incredibly hard to sustain yourself whether you’re emerging or mid-career as there are very few financial ‘guarantees’ along the way. But what is abundant are opportunities in terms of locations, material and peer-to-peer support.  Nationally there are some great bodies ‘defending’ and re-defining the boundaries of Contemporary Arts practice and I would encourage new artists to become members of both AN and Axis.

Q:  What do you like about the Liverpool art scene?

– I love the density and variation of work on show during the Biennial & at the same time I admire ‘emergent’ galleries such as Curve. They actively seek to promote professional practice at an emerging level, and by doing so are re-defining the power structures of the city in a ‘rhizomatic’ fashion. I also adore Liverpool’s architecture, with all the innate possibilities it offers, there’s space to create, intervene and exhibit in conjunction with people like Camp and Furnace at the former A Foundation. The fabric of the city calls for sculptural interventions that reference migration, trade and industry against an ever changing sky-line.

Q: What can we expect from the work you’ll show at the Liverpool Art Prize exhibition?

-It’s my most ambitious work in terms of the opportunities and constraints presented by the space. I’m working with the Accumulator Tower so I’m dealing with shifting, and at times ephemeral, light. Plus the height of approximately eleven metres is offering up some exciting engineering conundrums.

Q: What other exhibitions/shows/events are you looking forward to in 2012?

Damien Hirst / Tate Modern

Rachel Whiteread / Whitechapel Gallery

The Biennial / Liverpool

Documenta (13) / Kassel, Germany

Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

– Hopefully continuing to ‘broker’ relationships between materials, locations and people.

Q: Do you have any hidden talents?

– I once ran the London marathon and a few years later fasted for three days, on my own, in the middle of the Sinai desert with just 16 bottles of water and a sleeping bag….so probably, resilience.


Tomo (James Thompson)


Tomo Photo c. McCoy Wynne

Graffiti artist & painter Tomo (

Tomo’s work can be seen as a kind of storytelling through the materials he uses. The work is informed by a strong DIY ethic and he strives to make the best he can with whatever is available, often working with discarded items.

Q & A – Tomo

Q: Tell us a little about yourself

My name is Tomo, I grew up mostly in sleepy suburban Liverpool in a neighbourhood known as ‘Two Dog’s Fighting’, my Pop’s is a Joiner and my Mum a Social Worker which is probably why I’m alright with my hands and sometimes with people. I like being still and also being on the move but I normally find myself alternating between these states.

Q:Can you tell us a little more about the ethos or thinking behind your work?

There’s a few different things going on but mainly I like to think about my process as a kind of alchemy, especially when I’m working with reclaimed or discarded materials. Sometimes I even think of it as akin to music sampling, taking things from different era’s and areas, mixing, chopping and changing. Although there’s a bit of me in there of course, the human element is probably what makes it interesting.

Q: How/when did you start making art?

I always made art since as long as I can remember. As a kid I was always drawing and my family encouraged me. When I was a teenager I discovered graffiti but I kept that one more to myself, like you do. I’d still watch Watercolour Challenge but I liked the adrenalin aspect of graffiti. Later on I went through the education system and studied graphic design which was great but then I fell in with the wrong crowd and soon enough I ended up making more personal work.

Q: What brought you to Liverpool?

I grew up here, although often I venture afar, even when my finances require me to improvise. Last time I was brought to Liverpool I think it was via a car.

Q: Where do you get inspiration from?

Everywhere really, I find a lot of ideas in normal everyday life, in the so called mundane, if you look beneath the surface there’s all kinds of jewels and gems waiting to be discovered..

Q: What do you find inspirational about Liverpool?

There’s a good diverse mix of people here, a lot of movement and you can feel that over time different forces have shaped the city. There’s always something to do here if you want but there’s still enough quiet to be found which I think is very important. Compared to some of the bigger cities one can end up in the pace here is quite slow and this suits me well as I have quite a slow pace myself. Also it hasn’t reached a point where any place feels culturally over-saturated; you can see gaps and missing pieces and then find a way of infusing them with your own energy. The negative space is equally as important as the positive space. I love exploring all those neglected sites and derelict buildings too, here one can find a wild untamed energy and maybe a little glimpse of freedom.

Q: What would your dream project be?

Anything where my work can have a positive effect on people or help them see things differently. I like it when there’s a chance to get through to people who would not normally take an interest in art. That’s one of the reasons why I occasionally work outside in the street. This Liverpool Art Prize thing is a kind of dream project too. Not because of the prize element but because I’m considered worthy to share the shortlist with a very talented group of creatives, all of whom more experienced than myself. Recently I heard that the folk at Metal routinely walk around the train platform and invite commuters into the gallery, this got me rather excited.

I’m talking reality though aren’t I? A ‘dream’ project would be me stumbling through the darkness of a strange far away city installing artwork on government buildings. Just when I’m about to get caught a limousine getaway vehicle picks me up and the driver informs the police that it can’t be me, because I’m now wearing a designer suit and am being escorted to an expensive restaurant to meet a lady-friend. The next day I fly into another country where a man meets me at the airport with my name on a card. We travel by horse to a secret location, some great art gets made, then there’s a party in my hotel room, everyone is invited and we smash it up like rock stars and the telly gets thrown out the window.

Q: Do you think there is enough support for emerging artists?

Depends what you mean by support? I work with a sort of D.I.Y. ethic and the kind of support I’ve been fortunate enough to receive is that from likeminded individuals in similar positions to myself. If you can get even a small bunch of people together and share skills you can develop something much more powerful and wholesome than if you were just given a cheque. I think Liverpool is great for its creative support networks and a lot of the time things grow from the bottom upward very successfully.

Q: What do you like/what would you change about the Liverpool art scene?

It’s great, lot’s of energy, although maybe it could be more radical? No one likes this bullshit government we didn’t even vote for, and a bit of creative muscle wouldn’t go astray. Something to think about…

Q: What can we expect from the work you’ll show at the Liverpool Art Prize exhibition?

It will be like the work you’ve already seen but more ambitious, I’m going deeper, you’ll have to wait and see…

Q:  What other exhibitions/shows/events are you looking forward to in 2012?

Wolstenholme Creative Space I hear is planning some exciting stuff for Liverpool Art Month, a little bird tells me. I also heard that Liverpool’s Hip Hop scene will be starting to wake up again after a long rest. Most interestingly though, last year a man in a pub told me that this year on the 15th of March at precisely 3.30am – everybody’s level of consciousness will suddenly become elevated, no effort required! If it really happens that would be nice.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

I never really think that much ahead, I could be dead or in jail, or even living the dream.

Q: Do you have any hidden talents?

They wouldn’t be quite so hidden if I told you.


Alan Dunn

Alan Dunn Photo c. McCoy Wynne

Wallasey-based artist Alan Dunn (

Alan compiles CDs of artists’ audio works on themes such as the Mersey Tunnels, revolution or numbers, with contributors including Pete Wylie, Yoko Ono, Andy Warhol, David Bowie and Carol Kaye.


Q: Tell us a little about yourself:

I was born and brought up in Glasgow by an engineer and a secretary who ran evening classes in art in the local community centre. I grew up loving art and football, in that order, and my teens were soundtracked by the Liverpool of the Bunnymen, Wah!, Teardrops and OMD and by watching Dalglish and Hansen on TV. They never performed that well for Scotland so I got the idea that Liverpool must be a magic city.

I studied at Glasgow School of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago then left Scotland in 1991 to explore a few different cities. I ended up in Merseyside in 1994, with Brigitte and my two kids Heidi and Zak, one a red, one a blue.

Apart from that, I was Under-13 Player of the year in 1981, the first gig I went to was the Cocteau Twins at Glasgow Empire in 1983 and my desert island discs would include ‘Pale Blue Eyes’ and John Cage’s ‘4’33’.

Q: Can you tell us a little more about the ethos or thinking behind your work?

My work tends to be free, accessible, somehow refer to the ‘real world’ I see around me and usually take a few years to make an impact. I do a lot of collaborate work too and spent six years as lead artist with tenantspin at FACT and developed content with high rise pensioners, the Communist Party of Liverpool, ethical bankers, Mike McCartney, Margi Clarke, Jayne Casey, UFO spotters, John ‘Spoons’ McGuirk and Bill Drummond. The Rooney billboard I did at the Bluecoat in 2004 while he was still at Everton sums up what interests me, making works about things we find on our doorstep but seeing them from new angles. I’ve been more recently working with sound and I put together the ‘Soundtrack for a Mersey Tunnel’ CD while travelling on the 433 bus every day through the Wallasey tunnel. It was a collection of tracks that lasted exactly 2’33, the length of time it takes to cruise through the tunnel. I worked with Chris Watson who does David Attenborough’s sound recording, I arranged to record poets in the tunnels when they were closed and set up a choir of tunnel workers. I’ve also done a CD for the Williamson Tunnels and one about revolution, one about the colour grey and one about the number 4. I raise funds for these CDs and give them away free of charge around the world. The Mersey Tunnel ones for example were given away from the tollbooths.

Q: How/when did you start making art?

My dream was always to go to the imposing building at the top of the hill in Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street, the one up behind the cinema that was Charles Rennie Macintosh’s Glasgow School of Art. I was actually working for Britoil on a school placement writing computer programmes for oilrigs, but my heart wasn’t in it so I followed my ambition of going to art school. I spent six years at Glasgow School of Art, surrounded by future Turner Prize winners like Douglas Gordon and Martin Boyce and some of the radical community artists of the early 1970s. It was hard work, challenging and genuinely life-changing; we were in the studio from 8am-8pm virtually every day. There was a strong work ethic and sense of not waiting for people to offer openings, but making your own instead. When I was 19 or so my gran marched me into Easterhouse Housing Office and said ‘my grandson is great at drawing, give him some work’, which they did and I was soon cutting my teeth in community art. For ten years after graduating I did workshops with the Big Issue, Wirral Drug Service, European Special Olympics, libraries across Manchester and primary schools in Bootle.

Q: What brought you to Liverpool?

I came here because of work and a real curiosity about the city. Since moving here the city has been incredibly influential for me and very supportive and provocative; it keeps me working hard and it keeps me grounded.

Q: Where do you get inspiration from?

I was taught to be alert in the gaps between home and work. I also get inspiration from listening, working with people like Chris Watson, lecturing in contemporary art three days a week at Leeds Metropolitan University to 20 year olds, parenting a 12 and 14 year old, reading, the Internet and other artists such as Bill Drummond or Yoko Ono. I recently had a short train journey with Liverpool artist John O’Shea and hearing about his work was very inspirational.

Q:  What do you find inspirational about Liverpool?

It never seems quite finished, there’s always flux, building sites, projects coming and projects going, people leaving, people arriving, it feels like one big urban station under construction. I also like the loyalty of some people that have been in their jobs for a long time, such as Bryan Biggs at the Bluecoat, people that have really given a lot to the city. I also like how people that were highly influential in the 1980s are still contributing to the cultural landscape too.

Q: What would your dream project be?

I don’t think in terms of dream projects – if I have an idea I go all out to make it happen. There are however some projects that got away and I recently wrote an article for Ben Parry’s book ‘Cultural Hijack’ outlining some of them such as the billboard artworks that would appear in a Brookside script or my 6am tightrope walkers in Bold Street.

Q: Do you think there is enough support for emerging artists?

I think you have to make your own support sometimes and Liverpool has always had incredibly interesting energetic artists and creatives. What is always useful is for Councils and private agencies to trust emerging artists with funds and it’s crucial that influential people sitting in seats of influence (eg funding agencies) actually get to know some of the artists who apply for funds.

Q: What do you like/what would you change about the Liverpool art scene?

I like that it is very diverse and not just focused on one particular visual arts venue or scene. I also like some of the ideas emerging from the Wirral and St. Helens in recent years from artists such as Phil McHugh or Claire Potter. There is also a really interesting young Liverpool artist called Michael Jenkins who is studying at Leeds just now, he produced some work for the recent ‘Democratic Promenade’ exhibition at the Bluecoat. His piece was around the tradition of ‘sleeping on the rope’ and on the opening night, both Michael’s dad and Ken Dodd shared some time on the rope. I really like those cultural moments and experienced a lot of them while working with the sadly missed John ‘Spoons’ McGuirk.

Q: What can we expect from the work you’ll show at the Liverpool Art Prize exhibition?

I’ll be showing a set of seven CDs that I have put together, allowing people to hear rare and amazing material from locals artists, David Bowie, Russian poet Irina Ratushinskaya, ex-Pogue Jem Finer, Mexican rappers, youtube amateurs and revolutionaries. There will also be display cases of related objects, including a fragment from Apollo 8 that was flown around the moon in 1968 and an illustration of the Mersey Tunnels from a 1951 Eagle comic. I am also aiming to develop a new live performance piece with Pete Wylie & Jeff Young for the opening night.

Q: What other exhibitions/shows/events are you looking forward to in 2012?

I’m looking forward to the European Championships, spending a couple of days at Bill Drummond’s Curfew Tower in Antrim, a family holiday in Cyprus, Documenta 13 in Kassel and I’m developing a big project with Jeff Young for this year’s Open Golf Championship in Lytham.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

About to turn 50.

Q: Do you have any hidden talents?

I am great at Lego.