The conversation coincided with the showing of Rogers’ latest work at Rook Lane, under the title, ‘Industrious,’ a collection of large drawings that brings attention to the plight of our urban workspaces, threatened as they are by the government’s push to redevelop tracts of inner city land for residential use. This is especially acute in London, where one of the last actions of ex-mayor, Boris Johnson, was to sign off on huge redevelopment plans that will eviscerate a large part of East London and leave any number of artisans, craftsmen and tradespeople without anywhere to work.
Rogers describes herself as a reportage artist. That is, she goes where things are happening and draws in situ, using brush, pen and ink, often for six hours at a stretch.
I wondered if an artist who produces editorial work for many of the broadsheets, both here and across the Atlantic, isn’t something of an anomaly in these days of clip art and stock photography and whether or not she is under threat, too. Rogers talked about the arbitrary distinction between fine artists, who may work for a gallery or a patron and those, like her, who work for the media. Indeed, all art, is someone else’s propaganda, from Michelangelo and Pope Julius II to Damien Hirst and Tony Blair.
Regardless of past paymasters, Lucinda Rogers’ work has always been as beautiful as it is informative. Now, she has the time and resources to pursue the subject matter that is closest to her heart. But these pieces are not in the least polemical; the desire to highlight a particular concern going no further than Rogers’ quiet, unflagging presence, her confident hand and unrelenting eye. As her sometimes sinuous and at other times, fitful line explores every crannie of the space before her, flitting over a worktable, circling some esoteric tool or gliding delicately over the profile of a craftsperson, one is made aware that their evident devotion to their craft is matched by Rogers’ own and that these spaces and the activities they nurture (be they wood-carving, glass blowing or even kebab grill-making) are things to be cherished. We lose them at our peril.
To follow Lucinda Rogers’ unerring line around each drawing is to appreciate the zeal and the love with which they have been made; her attention – not necessarily to detail – but to what is salient about the subject. It is a very special sensitivity indeed which brought people in Frome to Rook Lane that Tuesday evening.
Listen to David’s conversation with Lucinda Rogers on Frome FM here.