Melbourne-based, New Zealand-born architect Jonathan Gibb of Studio B Architects won third place at the inaugural The RIBA Journal (RIBAJ) Eye Line drawing competition. The competition was “a toe in the water” for the Royal Institute of British Architects, but attracted 250 entries worldwide. Gibb’s series of eighteen drawings entitled Empty Windows and Undercroft attracted critical praise from an esteemed panel of judges that included Cornelia Parker from the Royal Academy of Arts, Narinder Sagoo (Foster + Partners), Professor Alan Dunlop (Robert Gordon University), and Hugh Pearman (RIBAJ editor). Part of the prize was to have the work published in the August 2013 edition of RIBAJ (it appears on page 29).
A delighted Gibb had this to say: “As with many of my drawings, the aim of each drawing I entered in the competition is to explore the effect of light and shadow on geometries, captured as a still image. A degree of hyper-realism, and as the judges rightly said – ‘film noir’ – informs the banality of a scene, tempering each with a potential emotion, interpreted by on-lookers from their own point of safety, or unsettling to a point of uncertainty.”
Here’s what the jury said: “Curtainless windows were the inspiration for New Zealand[sic] architect Jonathan Gibb, using the medium of graphite on polyester film, in his foray to the dark side. Gibb’s drawings have a inky intensity so strong that Parker wondered whether he started with a graphite covered sheet and revealed the film beneath with a putty rubber. Whatever one thinks of the seeming plainness of the subject matter, Gibb has managed to evoke what Parker called ‘the moodiness of a film noir.’ Dunlop appreciated the ‘chiaroscuro effects that demand a hell of a lot of skill.’ While the drawings say nothing overtly, the judges all began coming to their own grim conclusions. Sagoo imagined ‘a form about to walk past the window,’ while Parker asked if ‘skulls lurked in the shadows.’ The unspoken narrative and evident skilled hand of the renderer made this effort worthy of singling out. ‘They are like a beautiful, blurred photograph,’ said Sagoo. ‘I imagine that in the flesh these drawings have a real physicality to them,’ remarked Parker, adding: ‘The crack of light in that last image is just gorgeous.’ A worthy third place.”
See the competiiton results in full in RIBAJ.