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