Cally Trench's Face drawings are a collection made between 2012 and 2018 of lifesize pen-and-ink drawings of the faces of her friends and family. These are people that Cally likes or loves; they are not celebrities. The people lie on their backs, and their disembodied heads stare coolly at the viewer as if from their bed of sickness or death; gravity pulls back their flesh, and they look as if they are flying off the paper into the wind. All the drawings are in ink on watercolour paper, 76 x 53 cm.
Two of the drawings, Hepzibah H and Cally T, were shown in Surfaces: Works on Paper at Sput+Nik Gallery, Porto, Portugal in 2012 (an AMBruno event, curated by Steve Perfect and John McDowall). Thirty-two Face drawings were shown in Faces by Cally Trench at the Buckinghamshire County Museum, 15th July to 9th September 2017. Four of the drawings were shown in 2018 in Rebel Daughters by Doncaster Community Arts at The Point in Doncaster.
Cally Trench spent days over each drawing, and often returned to them weeks or months later, until she felt that the person is looking back at her. The experience of spending so much time with each face was that she ended up feeling very affectionate towards each person - an experience which was, of course, not reciprocal.
The drawings look quite different depending on how far you view them from. At a distance, the faces seem to observe you and wait for an approach, so that the experience is like meeting a person. Close to, the individual ink marks, dots, lines and squiggles become obvious.
These drawings are effectively maps of people's faces. They were based on photographs that Cally Trench took of each person while they were lying on their back and gazing directly at the camera with a dreamy relaxed look. Cally used 0.1mm Rotring Tikky Graphic drawing pens containing black pigmented ink to make an equivalent of each photograph, by translating colour, form and shadow into a system of cross-hatching, dots, lines, and squiggles in ink. This she perceived as similar to the task of an engraver in the 18th and 19th centuries, who had to make the same sort of decisions when producing engravings based on oil paintings.