Pentagram Papers 43: Drawing McCarthy is a publication by Pentagram that compiles a collection of drawings that depict the Army-McCarthy hearings of 1954.  The series of drawings were made by Pentagram partner Emily Oberman’s mother, Arline Simon, directly from the hearings as they aired on live television in 1954.

Arline Simon noted in the book that “When I began to draw I didn’t realise that I would be drawing history in the making”.




It’s interesting to consider how the physiognomic commentary made by Arline’s illustrations took place ‘on-location’ in a seemingly different but similar manner.


‘Drawing of everyday scenes and situations in an objective way is a very different discipline to the much more dynamic and proactive of drawn visual journalism, which aligns itself more closely to photojournalism and the visual essay. Illustrators in effect work as journalists, interviewing, sketching and photographing their subjects, often composing and interpreting the visual, aural and textural material in a layered interpretive way. Much of the narrative and commentary finds its way to the published artwork through annoyed notes and transcribed conversations.”

Gary Embury editor of
Extract from ‘Thoughts from the chair’ Gary Embury, ‘Witness’ reportage and documentary illustration forum, Falmouth university 2014

People & Place: Hayward Gallery

Had our critique for People & Place and we had to answer the following questions for each other’s works:

  1. Say what you see! Describe
  2. What is effective about the image/ technique
  3. Suggest something to improve the image

Honestly, I like this kind of critique sessions where we have to literally write down our analysis and evaluations because:

  1. I am bad at verbalising my thoughts out instantaneously;
  2. I like analysis and evaluations: it helps to sharpen one’s visual skills though I am really not good at it;
  3. You get to keep them and they serve like physical reminders/encouragement of your work 🙂

Personal issues encountered during critique:

This time round, we have our final work presented in an A4 format with our final work in A5 and a 50 words-limits description. Therefore, while evaluating works of others, I find myself having to reference the description a lot before coming to an understanding of the context of the images. It reminds me of the functions of image-text relationships and their interplay in visual social semiotics:

For e.g., the 3 possible image-text relations identified by Barthes:

  1. text supporting image (anchorage): language has a function of elucidation
  2. image supporting text (illustration): images elucidate or realise the text
  3. two begin equal (relay)

Probably because I feel that the focus of this brief should still be the image itself and hence the image should always have the ability to convey the intended message effectively by itself, this was giving me a lot internal conflicts during the evaluations. However, going in this direction, in retrospect, I think my outcome also seemed to fail in effectively conveying the place and specifically the brutalist architecture of Hayward Gallery? Confused :S

Final Outcome:

Anyway…here is my final outcome:

Germaine-Hayward Gallery copy

My place is about Hayward Gallery but my focus is actually on its brutalist architecture and its impact on the people. My intended message is as my text description: the place (brutalist architecture) is as cold and brutal as the people who walked past the place; as though neither are concerned about each existence.

Because the final presentation has 2 components, I didn’t want the text to feel awkwardly empty beside my work, so I actually set the description against an image of the Hayward Gallery that I did and I tried my best to make the background image and my final work look congruent as much as possible.

Oh yea, this is the first time I tried rendering my image digitally. I had those people drawn in photoshop and they were horrible; the lines were scrawny and disconnected. My lousy photoshop skills are also the reason for the bad feathering of my image. I didn’t realise it until I had to upload the image on our uni website and it got me so distraught to see those mess >.<  Time to improve on my photoshop skills!

Summary of Peers’ evaluations and feedbacks:

Strengths: heavy large brushstrokes, textures, scale and composition of the building relative to the people, contrasting styles of the building with the minimalistic depiction of people

Improvements: more characters to the people

People & Place: Hayward Gallery