Visiting Christy Burdock in Her Studio

Behind the scenes with our Illustrator in Residence.


  • Christy Burdock
  • Residency

Generally speaking it takes a bit of time to get under the skin of an organisation. It’s never about the overt conversations but always about patterns of behaviour, quips and throwaway comments.

The stuff that made you all quite tense, the ‘oh my god she’s looking and listening’, none of that was of deep significance really; it was more the way you moved, how you reacted to your space and moved around each other.

I had to pretend I was drawing you – observational drawing – but I don’t really do observational drawing very much. I was just listening and watching. What’s very interesting is what you’d be saying just as I was leaving and that was the most revealing: we all let our guards slip when we are getting comfortable.

I think about the material I’ve collected for quite some time - for weeks - and work out what ideologies and feelings are attached to those slips and quips and see what images I get out of what I feel. I will have a photograph lying around, and references, but everything is created from my head.

The references are paintings (I spend my life in London’s galleries, mainly the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery) and I like contemporary philosophy - the light version! I’ve got a Freudian background, I have a basic understanding of psychoanalysis, but humour is used to convey ideas and there’s a lot of irony in my work, obviously. If I find something that’s really interesting I’m not about to make someone feel exposed so I use metaphor, irony and humour to communicate.

Coming into the office I felt like I was intruding. I usually feel intrusive doing what I do but I have to do it anyway as it’s my work. My ‘voice’ is best heard in pictures, I feel. I talk through drawing.

Like to hear more? Join us next month, when Christy will be in conversation with Sacha Craddock, the curator of last year’s Turner Prize and co-founder of Bloomberg Space.

Christy Burdock: The People in the Gallery runs until 8 July 2018.