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?