Subject of chalkboard drawing also composed of chalk


This cliff in Chalk Fall 2018 (illustrated) seems solid, like the massive wall of a fortress, however on closer inspection, we see the rough waves churning beneath, and realise the cliff-face is giving way, falling into the ocean. Tacita Dean’s monumental chalkboard drawing evokes the famous White Cliffs of Dover which are eroding evermore swiftly as a result of climate change.

Detail of ‘Chalk Fall’ 2021

Chalk Fall (detail) 2018

As Dean began to create Chalk Fall, a close friend was diagnosed with a tumour. ‘Every day’, she recounts, ‘I wrote the date on the board, chalking chalk with chalk in a sedimentation of time and emotion that had a terrible constructive intensity.’ We can also make out chalked notes such as ‘aerial view’ and ‘fade to black’ that are anchored in Dean’s practice as a filmmaker. Chalk Fall is at once a drawing, a journal, a history painting and the record of a deep friendship maintained across an ocean.

Tacita Dean ‘Chalk Fall’ 2021

Tacita Dean, United Kingdom b.1965 / Chalk Fall 2018 / Chalk on blackboard / Nine panels: 121.9 x 243.8cm (each); 365.8 x 731.5cm (overall) / Purchased 2021. The Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Charitable Trust / Collection: The Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Charitable Trust, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Tacita Dean

Installing 9 panels

Installing Chalk Fall 2018 / Photograph: C Callistemon © QAGOMA

Watch | Tacita Dean discusses ‘Chalk Fall’