Roy Eastland – Silverpoint Photobooth Portraits

Above is one of a series of silverpoint drawings based on photobooth images. The artist is Roy Eastland. He is based in the UK where he exhibits widely.

His work is centred on drawing. He is especially interested in art about human presence, memory and trace.

Roy talks about this series –

These silverpoint portraits are based on photobooth images of my Mum. They were most likely done for bus passes. The photos I’ve drawn from are the mistimed and unflattering ones which were never used. I like them because they capture familiar facial expressions and the hints of  personality which better-posed photographs would never have caught.

The photographs are the starting points but the drawings are never straightforward copies of them. They slowly emerge out of a painstaking drawing-process of repeated loss and revision. The drawings are repeatedly scratched-away and redrawn so that the resultant drawings are traces of time as much as they are drawings of people.

The drawings contain blocks of handwriting too. Handwriting is also a kind of drawing. The texts are made up of lines of remembered speech and familiar stories repeatedly re-written and altered in each re-telling. Some phrases and words become more prominent over time but complete sentences are hard to see and the presence of it all is always fragile, like a memory.

Silverpoint drawings are made by drawing a point of silver wire across a prepared surface onto which tiny traces of metal are deposited. These traces are extremely subtle; pressing the point harder will not make the line any darker or its presence any stronger. The delicacy of silverpoint lines makes it an appropriate medium for an art about presence, trace and memory.

My drawings are based on photobooth images but they are really drawings about the presence of life in insignificant and otherwise unrecorded moments. Drawings condense moments in time into traces of touch. They take time to do and the sense of time is subtly replayed whenever someone spends time looking at a drawing. My drawings are a kind of meditation on an imagined single moment of a life in which someone was still for a while and at which no one else was present.

I find his work extremely interesting and moving. There is a strong sense of being pulled into the image, as though we are leaping through a time barrier in order to be able to connect with the person, face to face. Roy’s drawings achieve something which I aim to convey in words when I describe a photobooth photo on this blog. I love the subtle relationship of materials between the silverpoint used to make the drawings and the silver gelatin process that was used in photobooth photos for decades.

Two more of Roy’s works are below. You can see a lot more of his beaautiful images at his blog, here.


  1. Mike said:

    Yes, they are lovely and somewhat haunting. I like them quite a bit.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, haunting is a great word for them. Glad you like them, Mike. He has so many other beautiful works on his blog.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. stephen said:

    not only is the work itself interesting, but seeing the kinds of places people go to create art is a wonderful journey.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I’ve never heard of that kind of drawing before – have ordered a book as it looks so fascinating. The drawings are so ethereal. Thanks for bringing these to my attention Kate – I’m now following Roy’s blog and Instagram feed.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I love silverpoint and watched my first wife illustrate meticulously using this method. This guy is awesome.

    Liked by 3 people

    • That must’ve been wonderful to observe, Barry. Presuming she no longer works in that medium?


  5. Silverpoint requires an endless amount of patience. Roy’s drawings are haunting (as someone already pointed out!) but also beautiful! I’d love to see them in person!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you for you lovely comments about my drawings. If any of you happen to find yourself anywhere near Salisbury in the U.K., I have a small solo show running at The Young Gallery until 25th August (silverpoint drawings are so hard to see properly in photographs or scans). Thanks for your comments!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. A few years ago, I watched a couple of episodes of a crime show, called “Lie to Me,” with Tim Roth as a sort of consulting detective, who studied people’s “microexpressions,” to determine when they were telling the truth. These very interesting drawings reminded me of that – – despite what sounds like a time-consuming and intensive process to create, capturing these fleeting moments of someone’s life, and their fugitive facial expressions.
    I confess I’d thought of photobooths as places to mug and make silly faces, but not as a place capturing hints of personality. You have a very interesting blog here, R.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks for the compliment, Robert!

      I loved that show ands was very disappointed when it was cancelled. That is a great parallel and to me, describes what Roy has captured perfectly.

      Liked by 2 people

    • I do see some parallels between some of your recent photos and Roy’s work. Some of your work has that wiped back and layered feeling that Roy speaks of, though yours is, of course, a stylistic, not literal means of achieving that. If that makes sense!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve been spending a lot of time collecting 19th century cabinet cards and cdv portraits this year. Much like Roy’s mother’s bus passes, these are similar artifacts: inexpensive and overlooked portraits.

        I guess something of all that works its way in.

        Liked by 2 people

  7. Thanks for sharing Roy’s images Katherine, I haven’t heard of him before but will be checking out his work : )

    Liked by 1 person

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