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Keith Miller’s travel sketchbooks displayed in England

By Janell Meador

Keith Miller travelled to the United Kingdom in August to open his exhibition “Keith Miller: Travel Sketchbooks” at the Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, the home of modern art in West Sussex. Fifty-six of Miller’s travel sketchbooks and selected works from his “mail art” collection will be displayed.

Keith Miller: Travel Sketchbooks
Until Sun, Oct 6
Pallant House Gallery
De’Longhi Print Room
Chichester, West Sussex, United Kingdom

The senior art critic at the Daily Telegraph in London, Richard Dorment, suggested to renowned London art dealer James Kirkman, a friend of Pallant House Gallery, that a show of Miller’s travel sketchbooks would be well received at the museum, which is well known for its collection of contemporary British art. Kirkman, a long-time winter resident of San Miguel de Allende, met Miller here over 20 years ago. Dorment has also visited San Miguel several times and is well acquainted with Miller’s work.

On August 22 Miller gave an opening-night talk to guests at Pallant House entitled “Why Draw?” Using visuals and a PowerPoint presentation, he discussed the motives and impulses that lead artists to draw and the uses to which they put the drawings and sketches. “Doing drawings on the spot is a way to familiarize oneself with the subject matter,” says Miller. “As well as being a visual diary and a chronological record of one’s travels, sketches may become the starting point for a studio work.”

The sketchbooks will be opened to display one image and installed in glass cases. Viewers will be tantalized by what cannot be seen. What is just before or just after the exposed page? “It is very tough to choose which sketch to display,” says Miller. “The curator in the UK will be choosing which pages to exhibit in the gallery space for this show, be it good, bad or indifferent. Fortunately, however, more than 1,000 of them will be viewable by museum visitors on a digital device.”

After keeping a record of his travels through Southeast Asia, Europe, Turkey, Greece and Mexico in sketchbooks since the 1960s, Miller first put them behind glass for a show at the historical museum here in San Miguel de Allende in 1991. Although this manner of presentation presents only about four percent of the work physically, he is looking forward to showing his pencil, pen and ink drawings, watercolors and mixed media works at the Pallant House Gallery. “This is a rare opportunity to exhibit the sketchbooks,” says Miller. “Otherwise, they just sit on a shelf.”

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