Critical Distance: Aleppo Kids 1 + 2

The image on the left – of a young boy crouching and sheltering his even younger sister in Aleppo – did the rounds on social media a few months ago. It was soon outdone by the picture of the poor lad looking bewildered in an Aleppo hospital, but it it hit me quite hard. I have a younger sister and it made me wonder how I might have reacted in similar circumstances. I am grateful that I’ve never been tested in this way. It was soon followed by the image on the right of a shell-shocked child in an Aleppo hospital

Each drawing is 1.26 m x 1.26m, graphite on paper. It was a much quicker process to make these than previous large works. I edited the photographs in PhotoShop. In doing so each section became quite blurred and so when I was working it wasn’t clear what I was actually drawing. When assembled the image reveals itself.

When Chris Graham and I made the first Sans Terre/+ installation I printed out large pixellated versions of photographs of charred corpses. Seen close up, they didn’t make much sense, but from across a room the pixels coalesced to form recognisably human shapes. It struck us that this was a manifestation (it seemed to concrete to be a metaphor) of how drone-centred foreign interventions take place. From a long distance things seem simple and clear, but close up – on the ground, as it were  – it’s messier and less clear. Making this drawing in a fragmented unclear way that, when put together, re-enacts some of that experience. I’ll be honest, it’s very muddled at the moment, but there’s something very real about distance and comprehension. It’s usual to talk about ‘critical distance’ in contemporary art practice, but I wonder if we really know what that means. It’s easy to subscribe to an oppositional ideology that is unlikely to ever manifest itself.


Digital Rain

Since completing the Garden of Earthly Delights and Mona Lisa drawings (see below) I’ve been working out what I’m going to do next. This isn’t unusual after completing a PhD as much of the thinking I’ve been doing has been geared towards the completion of an academic thesis and the work made during that period was less concerned with ‘content’ than might have been the case if I’d been making the work for other reasons.

I have, as avid followers of this blog will know. been working on and off with Chris Graham on the Sans Terre/+ project which is very content heavy, being concerned with refugees, Beyoncé, terrorism, wars in the Middle East, Mickey Mouse, Géricault’s Raft of the Medusa,  drone strikes, classical history, and so on. I have returned to this area to make an ever-expanding set of digital images, a selection of which are shown below. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure where these will end up. They feel like a set of inter-related images that could stand alone, raw material for further work, or both.

UPDATE: I have edited this collection down on this blog, but if you want to see more of them, you can follow me on the following platforms, where I post the works as they are made:

INSTAGRAM: @bryaneccleshall



Massacre of the Innocents
Stop The War In ________ NOW!
Carry On Englund
Aleppo Ghost Mother
Move Towards the Light
Babel Surveillance
Tower of Tumour
Can’t Take My Eyes Off You
Here Is The News
Sea of Eyes
You Make Me Feel Brand New
Science and Religion
Is Abstraction Bad?
Drill Baby Drill
Queen of the Night
Coming Over Here With Their Cuneiform Script

After Da Vinci: The Mona Lisa


While trying to finish my PhD I engaged in a little distraction and made a start on a life size drawn copy of the Mona Lisa.Aside from the distraction it afforded me (though I abandoned it and knuckled down to writing after a relatively short while) it gave me a chance to see if I could capture something of the expression that is so well known. In truth, I saw this as a technical challenge and not as a work of art as such. The Sans Terre / + I make with Chris is much more interesting as art, but part of me is still fascinated by trying to achieve something that is perhaps beyond my grasp.

Last weekend I made an effort to finish it, at least for the time being. I think that there is still some tweaking to around the mouth (though I’m loathe to do too much as the expression can change in an instant), but for now this is complete.

What next? I’m thinking that that this ought to be exhibited on the wall that now masks my painting of the wall of the Salon Carré from which the Mona Lisa was stolen by Vincenzo Peruggia in 1911. I might then erase it.

After Hieronymus Bosch’s ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’


I have now completed a drawn reiteration of Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights. For now, I’ll leave the image here (and if you click on it you’ll be taken to a larger version so that you can have a better look).

I’ve been racking my brains to think of something to write about the making of this piece which is neither banal (‘it was difficult’) or predictable (‘it took longer than I thought’). Perhaps the best thing to do is to simply list some thoughts and see how they stack up as reflection. Here goes:

  • Each panel I drew was like a mini-painting in itself in that there was rhythm and composition and visual interest, often narrative or at least amusing. It’s a complex work when taken as a whole but that complexity arises out of the complexity ‘on the ground’, so to speak.
  • Notwithstanding that level of detail there is an overall rhythm to the piece that is its structure. The circling parade around the central pool might be obvious but there’s also a large ‘X’ below that.
  • There is no sex on the picture, despite all the nudity. Derek Jarman (who is trying to make a film based on the painting) reckons that there’s one couple copulating, but unless it’s couple who are mostly hidden, I have no idea who they are.
  • The ‘Hell’ panel was hard to make purely because creating a solid black with a .5mm 2B pencil is a slow process. There’s a rhythmic quality to the resulting surface which is missing form the source painting. Drawing and painting are not the same. Bosch could add opaque white to a coloured/dark background whereas I had to excavate the white back from the grey or black. One other solution is to leave the light or white parts and work around them but that can create the impression of an ‘aura’ or rhythmic surfaces that envelop the objects in the foreground. It is hard to make any brush marks on the painting.
  • In previous drawings (After Joseph Beuys’ Wirtschaftswerte and After Caravaggio’s The Incredulity of St Thomas, for example) I left a white border around each panel which formed a grid that appeared notionally ‘before’ the image and stood, in some ways, for my intervention. In this work (an in After Picasso’s Guernica) I didn’t bother with the white border. The grid, though, is still visible in the rupture created by the details not quite matching up.

Since completing this work, I have shown it with the Guernica drawings in an incomplete form as a response to Bank Street Arts ‘LEAVE // REMAIN’ call out for their 2016 members’ show. I titled the conflation: After Picasso and Bosch (The majority of this drawing remains at home. A minority has been left here for you to see).


‘Collateral Damage’: A Micro-Exhibition + Book Launch in Sheffield, 12th + 13th August


Last year I collaborated with Chris Graham on a complex and disorienting  installation at Bank Street Arts that was eventually called Sans Terre / +. The work sprang from a re-consideration of Théodore Géricault’s painting The Raft of the Medusa in terms of the then burgeoning refugee crisis.

After the installation was dismantled we began work on documenting the work in book form. What began as a record of something that had passed soon sprouted legs of its own and became an altogether new work. The images that accompany this post are details of the books.

The books – a printed collision of an arms catalogue and photographs of the installation as well as fragments of the source material that inspired it – have been extensively reworked by hand with paint, ink, scissors, and collage, and have become a visceral reworking of the source material and a new work that reflects the complexities of migration, terrorism, the military-industrial complex, exploitation of the Third World, Beyoncé, depleted Uranium, art, Disney, Gorgons, drone strikes, and spray paint.

On August 12-13th a Bank Street micro-exhibition will re-present elements of the installation and provide a platform for launching these books which will be available to buy for £25 each. If you want to pre-order one, look at the Sans Terre / + Facebook page. Search for @artiscomplicit

The ‘+’ in the title of the work is a deliberate allusion to the idea of ‘more’. For this iteration of the project we will be joined by Richard Bolam who has created a film that uses a film he made last August of us in the space when the installation was nearing completion but also includes material from other sources and images from the new books. This film is an integral part of the new show.

Join Sans Terre / + for the launch of these books. There will be a performance / reading at some point during the show (details to be confirmed).

Show Details:

Admission is free

Friday 12th August: 11am – 4pm

Saturday 13th August: 11am – 4pm

Banks Street Arts, Bank Street, Sheffield



Twitter: @BankStreetArts

My PhD thesis, available to buy

cover of thesis

I have produced a version of my PhD thesis using the print-on-demand publishers Because there are some images in it that are not mine I am selling it at cost price (just under six quid plus p+p). I will not be making any money on it, but have been asked by several friends and colleagues if it will be available, so here it is. Click on this link and you’ll be taken to the right page (I hope). You should also be able to buy it from your ‘local’ version of lulu if you aren’t in the UK.

The submitted thesis is accompanied by three other publications, two of which are available commercially, 365drawings and After After… The third title – Interviews –  is not available commercially as I promised my interlocutors that it was ‘appendix material’. If, however you have an account you can find them all under my name.

Studio Drawings

blog compound

It’s been a while since I posted anything here and I thought I ought to remedy that.. These three small drawings (each is about 10cm square I think) are all based on pictures people posted of their studios. The first was an impromptu bed, I think, the others are more obviously connected with making. I thought I’d make a lot of these (and may yet continue as the studio fascinates me as a place where work is done and tried out and junked and so on), but have been distracted. However, if something catches my eye – my basic criteria for drawing anything – you may see more of them.