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Wimbledon All England Lawn Tennis Club Residency

Sally drawing by scoreboard Sally drawing in front of the scoreboard at Centre Court

This residency at Wimbledon All England Lawn Tennis Club (Championships) took place between April and June 2012 and gave me a chance to see first hand the workings of this unique institution as it prepared for the one of the most famous annual tennis tournaments in the world.

I first met the staff at the Education Department in 2011, when I submitted a piece for their ‘125 Racquets’ exhibition and entered into casual conversation at the launch event . There followed a dialogue over a number of months which included visits to my local studio to see the materials I used and examples of my previous projects with groups. From this emerged the ideas for the “Behind the Scenes” artist’s residency which would combine both working with groups and time to make my own work as preparations got under way for the Tournament.

With the Education Team I facilitated workshops with Wimbledon Guild, St Cecilia’s Secondary School and Merton Abbey Primary School. The aim of these sessions was to introduce the groups to working directly outdoors on location including Centre Court, Court no 1 and overlooking the practice courts from high viewpoints. I introduced them to using new and unconventional materials, and trying out collaborative work with new formats such as panoramas and concertina sketch books.

Participating Groups

Merton Abbey Primary School made drawings on location on Centre Court and Court No 1. In addition to giving them access to the courts, the teacher commented how this had given the pupils the opportunity to spread out and the freedom to work in a large space away from the class room.

Pupils drawing

Pupils drawing

Pupils drawing

Pupils drawing

Pupils drawing

Pupils drawing Pupils from Merton Abbey Primary school drawing on the Courts

St Cecilia’s Secondary School
The pupils made acetate drawings, balsa wood drawings and concertina sketchbooks from high viewpoints around the site.

Pupils drawing Concentrating. St Cecilia's pupils making collaborative drawings

Here is a quote from Ben, the class teacher, following their visit.
“I know that the group I was with really enjoyed the various mediums with their drawings and I have never seen them so immersed and focussed in what they were doing!"

Wimbledon Guild
Sally showed examples of her work and the group also had a talk from Grant, the Chief Groundsman, giving anecdotes and insights into the history of AELTC. Some participants made drawings and others were given a personalised tour around the grounds.

Making my own work

Centre court panorama Sally working in the Education Studio on a panoramic set of acetate drawings made on Centre Court with detail below
Centre court panorama detail

Alongside these workshops, I was given unique access to the grounds and courts, took photographs, and made drawings and paintings to capture life ‘Behind the Scenes’ at AELTC during the lead up to the 2012 Championships. This included access to Centre Court after hours, ground staff at work, and meeting Rufus the Harris Hawk (the resident bird scarer).

Groundsman painting white lines
Groundsman mowing The Groundsmen painting the white lines on the practice courts and mowing the lawn on Centre Court
Sally with Rufus the Hawk Sally flying Rufus on Centre Court

A selection of the work produced was shown in the Conservatory Café where it was open to anyone attending the Championships during the Wimbledon fortnight in June/July 2012.

Wimbledon rooftops
View of court 2 Two ink and balsa wood drawings showing Wimbledon architecture and a view of Court 2

A final exhibition took place at the Wingfield Cafe in November 2012 for invited guests, including all staff and participating groups and their families to see all the work and visit the panoramic viewing station overlooking Centre Court where I made much of my work.

Paintings of Rufus the Hawk and the “White Line Men” have been purchased by Wimbledon AELTC and remain on show in the offices.

With very grateful thanks to all who contributed to making this residency possible including all ground staff, and the staff at AELTC www.wimbledon.com

Dennis Scarifier Dennis Scarifier, pen and coloured crayon on paper

White Line Men Wimbledon

Pen and acrylic on paper
20 cm x 4 metres

Film of drawings made on a concertina sketchbook. It has been filmed from left to right and has an audio commentary by the artist.

Pen on a green acrylic wash

This book contains a series of tiny sketches made very quickly by the artist as she watched the “White Line Men” painting the white lines on the courts at AELTC, Wimbledon, in preparation for the Championships. The line drawings are fast and scribbly, capturing the stance and gestures of the two men as they worked.

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