London-based illustrator Charlotte Trounce has travelled to museums and galleries across the UK to create a series of impulsive and energetic illustrations of the art and objects on display. The work has been commissioned by It’s Nice That in partnership with the Art Fund, to celebrate the National Art Pass. The Pass provides free entry to over 240 museums, galleries and historic houses across the UK, as well as 50% off entry to major exhibitions.
With the help of the National Art Pass, Charlotte visited; Natural History Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, Cartoon Museum, Fan Museum, Tate Modern, Jewish Museum London, Ashmolean Museum and Pitt Rivers Museum. Inspired by the wealth of art and design on show at these different places, Charlotte’s agile series of scaled-down drawings come together to form a tapestry of exhibits that represents just a snippet of the art available to see in the UK.
“I love visiting museums and galleries and drawing what I see there, so to receive a commission to do just that was great,” says Charlotte. “I was really excited to visit new places, as well as some of my favourite spaces.” The illustrator was given the brief, Volume of Art, and was asked to convey the magnitude and diversity of art and objects on display: “From the start of the project I knew I wanted to visit a variety of places and make as many drawings as possible in the time. On my first day of visits I filled a sketchbook.”
Over the course of a week, Charlotte created around 100 drawings of the works of art on show. She spent anything from ten seconds to a few minutes on each drawing, which suits Charlotte’s nimble style. “I liked working quickly – the fastest sketches with just one line are probably my favourite.” Charlotte tried to see “everything and anything”, including minuscule fossils and animal skeletons at the Natural History Museum, large scale masterpieces like Matisse’s The Snail at Tate Modern and 1930s ceramics from Keith Murray and John Ward at the V&A. Each museum presented the illustrator with a mix of natural history, modern art, mid-century furniture, records and iconic objects, which she’s depicted in her uninhibited and free-form style.
With so much art and artefacts on display, Charlotte didn’t want to over plan her visits and followed her instincts in terms of what she wanted to see: “At the V&A I headed straight to the top floor for the ceramics, where I drew pots for hours! But in other museums I would walk from room to room and take it all in,” she explains. “It could be quite random, on one of the spreads of my sketchbook there’s a bronze buddha, a painting of Saint Mark from 1461 and a violin.”
This cornucopia of objects on show meant Charlotte had to work out what suited her approach to working. “I learnt very quickly which ones would be great to sketch and which wouldn’t translate well in my style. Some objects, like a wonky Egyptian pot, worked perfectly, whereas a Monet landscape painting couldn’t be reduced to a few black lines.”
To enhance Charlotte’s expressive markings, the illustrator added in swatches of rich colour to add movement to the project. “I made all the sketches during the visits with the same black brush pen as I felt it gave them a nice consistent energy. For the final artworks I wanted to bring some colour and vibrancy to the drawings, yet didn’t want to overpower the line work, so I chose to add some painted colour to help certain objects stand out.”
The simplicity and naivety to Charlotte’s sketches make the numerous exhibitions and collections digestible yet still identifiable. The National Art Pass allowed Charlotte to step into an Aladdin’s cave with just the flash of a card, and it reminded the illustrator that there’s truly something for everyone. “There is so much to see, it’s incredible. Think of a subject and you can be pretty certain there’s a museum of that!”
A National Art Pass offers 50% off major exhibitions, plus free entry to hundreds of museums, galleries and historic places across the UK. The really good bit? Funds raised through the pass allow the Art Fund to help museums and galleries buy important works of art for everyone to enjoy. Learn more about the National Art Pass here and use the offer code ITSNICETHAT to receive a free limited edition print by Charlotte Trounce (pictured below) with your purchase of the National Art Pass.