Drawing the White Cliffs Visitors Centre and the Dover Totems


Perfect day. Looking forward to the next one. (participant feedback)

For Marcia Teusink’s fourth drawing workshop we met at the National Trust Visitor centre where there is plenty of parking and delicious refreshments.  We were very pleased that the drawing group included quite a few National Trust volunteers. Gareth Wiltshire, Operations Manager for the National Trust, introduced the group to the Visitor Centre building making available the original architects’ plans. Although the building is in many ways no longer adequate for the huge increase in visitor numbers, Gareth said that through his research he had discovered that the architect had indeed provided the Trust with what they had asked for at the time. This brought up  interesting thoughts about buildings being living things, requirements changing, managing expectations and dealing with the reality of how a building is used, resulting in a decision to co-produce, later in the year, an evening’s discussion provisionally titled: A retrospective view of the ChalkUp21 structures with their owners and members of the public at the White Cliffs visitors centre.

 The workshop took in :

  • The van Heyningen and Haward  National Trust White Cliffs Visitor Centre  … a deliberately modest building which sits on the cliffs overlooking Dover harbour. Its shallow vaulted roof is topped with grass so that the building merges into the landscape when seen from higher up. At ground level it explores a tectonic marriage of high-tech detailing and arts and crafts materials: welded steel elements resting on rustic brick piers.  (Charles Holland)
  • Artist Elaine Tribley’s Dover TotemsThere are six totems in all which mark the climb up to the white cliffs from the eastern end of Dover’s sea front. The walk is steep and vertiginous and offers amazing views of the Dover’s Eastern Docks and the English Channel. The totems are of various heights, some acting as markers and some as seats on which to sit and take in the view. They are fabricated from steel sheets, lazer-cut with the outlines of the fossilised plants that form part of the chalk cliffs, flowers and birds. Read more about Elaine Tribley’s process here

 Participants made drawings of the Visitor Centre itself and/or some of its architectural details as well as drawings and rubbings of the Totems and their motifs and/or the surrounding landscape. In the afternoon  there was an opportunity to create collages inspired by cut-outs of flowers, birds and coccoliths.