Barberium, 2019

2-21 June, 2019

Cassart, Queen Street, Glasgow

A drawing-documentary by artist Sharon Thomas

Entering Glasgow Central Station every day, in June 2017, I felt like I was going mad.  I was running every day from lecturing in one part of the city, to the studio in the other, whilst experiencing the joys of change of medication for my condition of epilepsy.  What I couldn’t stop thinking about was the Russian Social Realist painter Ilya Repin.

“What the f***?????”  One part of my brain kept shouting at me: “Stop thinking about Russian painting!  It has no relevance to what you are doing today.  Take some stronger drugs and cease this conversation!" Then the artist part of my brain screeched in retaliation “No! This is important. There must be something more going on!”.

I trust my eyes.  They are always one step ahead of the rest of my brain.  So I stopped one day and I did just that.  I watched.  I sat in the middle of a chaotic rush hour in Glasgow Central Station and watched all of the people running by me, and I asked myself the question: “why am I in a Russian Social Realist painting?”

Then I saw it.  I was not going mad.  I was in the Russian paintings that I was made to memorise, as an art student in New York.I was surrounded by beards!!!!!!!!!!  Almost every man about me had one!

The men around me were not part of the Russian military (as far as I knew); they were not hollering in Russian across the station, whilst marching and carrying rifles.  But every man (well almost) around me, running, sitting, fiddling with their mobile phones was playing and twisting: a beard!

My hand started twitching.  I needed to draw this revelation or possibly revolution?  When my hand needs to draw I do not question it.  I draw and see what happens next.  I then share this journey with the viewer, who, right now is you!

And here is then the result: a plenary of men with hairy faces.  Some are friends, some strangers, some men that I have now come to know, and one man I knew the most: my dad.  I lost him unexpectedly three months after I drew him.  This drawing has come to be one of the most important works of my life.

Drawing without an agenda is important.  Drawing is no different than singing or dancing in that it has a rhythm and wants to take you somewhere.  Barberium documents an important period in my life, where the pencil captured the portrait that needed recorded.


S.T June 2019