NAS Retake: Todd Fuller
For this month’s edition of NAS Retake, we take a look at the work of NAS alumnus, Todd Fuller.
‘I first came to the National Art School as a 17-year old during the HSC intensive program, which proved a highly transformative experience. When I am in the studio, or teaching a class, or even just talking about drawing, the words of my lecturers still guide me. My love of drawing was incubated here, where I learned to see this art form as a religion, a science, a language, a symphony and a way of life’. (Fuller, 2018)
Fuller graduated from NAS in 2010 with a Bachelor of Fine Art in Sculpture (Honours). He now teaches drawing at NAS, as well as lecturing, curating and performing on campus.
His practice combines animation, sculpture, drawing, performance and painting, yet is still very much underpinned by his love of drawing. The work Chapel (with whom I was united by every tie), is a recent work depicting the roof of the Chapel, the central building on the NAS campus. The drawing is one from a series made for Fuller’s animated film about the life and death of Darlinghurst Gaol prisoner Andrew George Scott, known as Captain Moonlite. The chapel represents a view seen by Moonlite at the gaol. The building was designed by Mortimer Lewis and built in 1847-72, and was originally designed as a surveillance tower for the gaol. However it was soon realised that guards would be vulnerable in a central tower. Its usage was changed to be a chapel and bathhouse, and its floor plan forms a perfect circle. Today the former chapel is used by the Drawing Department as a studio space.
Artists’ books come in all shapes and sizes: some are spiral-bound, some are sewn, some have tear-off pages, some have quality paper, some are cheaper lined notebooks. More often than not, they contain creased, crossed out and missing pages, with dog-eared corners, and extra drawings or collages stuck in.
In 2019, Todd Fuller donated five sketchbooks to the National Art School Collection which relate directly to his hand-drawn animations that grapple with ideas of love and loss. They also document his experiences with new sites and histories as he undertook residencies in Paris and Rome between 2011-13.
There are 65 sketchbooks in the NAS Archive and Collection, with the earliest examples dating back to Marion Eich’s anatomical and architectural books from 1926-27. Other early sketchbooks belonging to Gwenna Welch, Freda Rush and Lorna Nimmo are important documents that show NAS students’ ideas, memories and observations in the early days of the art school. The sketchbooks of Douglas Dundas, Dorothy Thornhill, Robin Norling, Jocelyn Maughan and Guy Warren contain quick sketches from the studio and excursions, as well as detailed anatomical studies and drawings of fellow students and teachers.
More recent donations by Merilyn Fairskye, Sophie Cape, Catherine O’Donnell, and Reg Mombassa offer valuable insight into their artistic journeys. The sketchbooks are deeply personal, filled with notes, memos, paint tests, names, influences, telephone numbers, addresses and all manner of lists.
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Keep your eyes peeled on our page as we feature new works and artists straight from the NAS Archive and Collection. Follow the hashtag on Instagram to stay up-to-date with our latest posts.
Images: Todd Fuller, Chapel (with whom I was united by every tie), 2018, chalk, charcoal and acrylic on timber, (40 cm diameter), National Art School Collection, donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program via the artist, 2019; Todd Fuller, Sketchbook Paris 2, 2011, pencil, crayon, charcoal, chalk and collage on paper, 21 x 29 cm, National Art School Collection, donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program via the artist, 2019 © the artist; Todd Fuller, Sketchbook Rome, 2013, pencil, crayon, charcoal, chalk and collage on paper, 21 x 29 cm, National Art School Collection, donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program via the artist, 2019 © the artist