A Day with my Father, A Day with my Son, 2018

TT Journal, ISSUE 5, 20th January 2023

By Dryden Goodwin

As I grew up people would often say, “You look a lot like your Dad”, my eldest son often gets the same response.

For ‘A Day with my Father, a Day with my Son’ I first spent a day with my Dad in Bournemouth in the house I grew up in, experiencing the day in his company, continually drawing him. Two weeks later, when back in London, I spent a day drawing my teenage son. I drew each responding to what they were doing, sometimes we were in conversation, other times they would withdraw into activities such as reading, homework and playing a keyboard, or moving outside to water the garden or play basketball.

I was thinking about all three of us collectively but also the different combinations. There’s something diagrammatic, some sort of blue print here, but not fixed, in fact vertiginously ever moving. Making the drawings, it started to feel like a widescreen moving image, part of a slow animation – both of physical appearance but also emotions. A snapshot cross-section of a tree trunk. I was drawing facial features, gestures and expressions somehow similar to my own.

It constantly intrigues me what it is you discover when you draw someone – through the intensity of the engagement, what you find out about, what’s recognised, what’s unfamiliar. Also, what’s revealed and what’s concealed, what’s understood and what’s misunderstood, a forever evolving matrix of connections and disconnections, similarities and differences.

‘A Day with my Father, a Day with my Son’ felt like writing two short chapters, an attempt to hold in some way these two days and these two people, shining a light on this small section of the continuum, with so much time before and hopefully so much after.

Drawing always feels like a negotiation, an attempt to find an insight, in this case into spheres of experience different to my own, but travelling alongside me for this time. These emotional measurements felt like I was trying to work out where I was, attempting to have some purchase on existence by looking at the people in it – who they are in themselves, but also in relation to each other and me.

Making many drawings back to back you start not to ‘think’ about drawing, you’re just engaging and encountering. You can’t capture everything, the drawings inevitably feel incomplete – but what’s held within these husks of the experience? It’s both celebratory but there’s also a sense of the mortality of everyone and every moment. There’s a tension between holding and letting go – wrestling with and coming to terms…. 

A Day with my Father, A Day with my Son, Dryden Goodwin, 2018

A thumbnail gallery: you can click on any of the images to see it in an enlarged form, as part of a sequence selected by the artist.

Dryden Goodwin’s work is defined by a rich dialogue between drawing, photography, film and sound. He has consistently focused on the human figure, exploring individual and group identities and narratives, the infrastructure of the city and its effect on human dynamics. Questioning the portrait form, his work offers a speculative vision that considers the uncertain processes of looking and representing, both in relation to what is experienced and what is seen. Centring on people’s personal, social and working lives, contexts include transport networks, hospitals, domestic spaces, airports, court rooms, prisons, and research laboratories – often reflecting on people’s desires, philosophies, vulnerabilities and motivations. He has shown nationally and internationally including solo exhibitions at Quad, Derby, The Photographers’ Gallery, London, Queen House, Royal Museums Greenwich, London, OCAT Xi’an, China, Hasselblad Foundation, Gothenburg, Sweden. Group exhibitions include Venice BiennaleTate ModernCOCA, Christchurch, New Zealand, Wellcome Collection, London and Drawing Room, London. Feature length and short film screenings and nominations including CPH Dox Copenhagen, Denmark, 24th edition of Camerimage Bydgoszcz, Poland and International Film Festival Rotterdam. Public collections include MOMA, New York, Tate Collection, National Portrait Gallery, London and Science Museum, London. Projects for public space include Linear for Art on the Underground, London, Breathe and Breathe:2022 with Invisible Dust. He is a Professor at the Slade School of Fine Art, UCL.