Eliza Turner

My current practice is concerned with the relationship between people and how we occupy public spaces; in particular I have been looking at cafes and libraries. I am constantly documenting observations through live sketches in pen and also back in the studio as more-finished oil paintings. 

I began my practice with live drawings from a cafe in the city centre. I returned multiple times, each time recording new people and documenting snapshots of conversations in sketchbooks. I was intrigued by the concept that the space was constantly filled with different individuals, relationships, life-stories, and emotions. People would sit in this space for a short time and then new people would replace them. I was interested in the way the space remained constant, and the people would constantly change. 

From this explorative work, the Library became of interest to me because of how people experienced that space differently. There is a public code that libraries should be a solitary experience, yet the space itself (much like the cafe space) is occupied by a multitude of people constantly coming and going.

A central part of my work has involved a collaboration with the University Libraries. I have utilised the library cataloging system to permanently archive my drawings as single page books. There are 5 books, all placed in bookshelves near the spaces that the drawings were taken from. The drawings are recordings of people working in the library spaces; they are energetic to encapsulate the temporary nature of people occupying the space and then leaving again. Each drawing focuses on a singular person to imitate our solitary experiences of the Library; however, through documenting them on the Library website as a collective series the drawings become connected, emulating how we share the space with others. The collection forms a trail of observations from spaces that many can relate to. 

I also chose to exhibit my observational drawings in the Libraries because it disrupts the viewing process. A drawing can often be viewed quickly if it is displayed on a wall, but if someone has to use a coding system and spend time looking for the drawing it is more likely that they will spend longer considering the drawing. 

Through my explorations, I have found that public spaces unite strangers through familiarity. Spaces that are familiar to people (such as cafes and libraries) creates a sense of intimacy within these spaces that is reality are so public and exposing.


⅖ 25/03/22 13:21, 2022, Ink and Pen on paper, 21×29.7cm

⅗ 25/03/22 13:21, 2022, Ink and Pen on paper, 21×29.7cm

Common Ground 25/11/21, 2021, Pen drawing on paper, 20x16cm

Midday, 2021, Pen drawing on paper, 42×29.7cm