Recently it was wonderful for us to be given the opportunity to give the third year Contemporary Art Practice students at Gray’s School of Art a brief tour of our RGU Art and Heritage collections stores including our new facility, complete with a cornucopia of unexpected objects.  In addition to the visit, David Blyth,  the Contemporary Art Practice course leader introduced the students to a few specific objects held in the collection as part of an introduction to the Drawing Machines project.  This included the drawing/rocking chair designed by former Gray’s School of Art tutor Derek Ashby.

The image above features contemporary art practice students with Derek’s drawing / rocking chair which he invented and constructed.  Two chairs in fact were built and he would always have been thinking of design improvements and attachments which could be incorporated into this imaginative but utilitarian creation.  Past graduates will remember Derek sitting in the upper stairwell of Gray’s, aboard his chair whilst sketching out ideas and engaging with the students between classes.  It is fitting therefore to see the chair return to the School and for current students to view and discuss it and even to experience sitting in this very special chair whilst drawing.  We can question how we feel about drawing or being creative in different environments but the chair takes the question that one step further-

How do we feel climbing aboard and drawing in something that is unique which was built primarily for the purpose of drawing?

Former pilot Derek Ashby 1926 – 2018 taught at Gray’s School of Art  from 1960 to 1987. RGU Art and Heritage are grateful to the Ashby family for donating the chair along with other items to the University collection.







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