These last few months I’ve been taken up with making prints and framing things for my show, and starting a new job (not too far, I now work part time for the Prince’s Drawing School) and I’ve barely done any fresh drawing. And its been eating away at me like a slow rot, I hadn’t realised quite how much until this recent burst at the Royal Academy got me happy and skipping my way home down Piccadilly afterwards. It’s a smashing show. It might be a little frustrating for historians as its themed by genre, not period. But for an artist this was a refreshing change, as I could make direct comparisons in style and gesture between centuries, over entire continents, in a way I just couldn’t in all the divided and categorised areas of the British Museum. It made me want to find wax or clay and push-pull-mould-smooth my own creations.
Here are my favourites (well, from my first visit, I’ll be back!)
‘The Levite’ from Giovanfrancesco Rustici’s ‘The Pharisee, St John the Baptist and The Levite from The Sermon of Saint John the Baptist’, 1511.
It instantly reminded me of my ‘little’ brother ( Nic, Junior Champion of the UK Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation National finals 2011). With his hair shaved, his jaw strong, he appeared relaxed but self-assured, as if he’d just had a good work-out and was hanging around, in a slightly mincing cross-legged pose, for all to admire him. I like that such a brutish-looking man has been given so much elegance in his floaty, cascading tunic.
I’ve been trying to draw my own feline recently and she’s not the best sitter (unless I want to draw her asleep in a ball). This is the classic ‘waiting for dinner’ pose.
I like cats. I have never seen one like this incredible winged creature. He is streamlined but hunky, lively but elegant. His neatly folded limbs and smooth curves make him look like an Art Deco character from the 1930s, who should be holding a lamp. But he’s actually a 7th Century BC Spanish cat. I would have loved to have taken him home and sat him outside my front door.
This is one of four handsome men holding four corners of an Ottonian altar of the 11-12th centuries. I liked them initially as their neatly-kept beards reminded me of how my boyfriend’s own defined his face. These men have lost their hands and their bodies seem overburdened by the weight of holy altar, you can almost feel the tingling in their knees. But they raise their heads and stretch out their chins with noble dedication. Their faces are serene, characterised by long almond eyes that arch to meet the top of the nose.
I am off now to explore New Zealand for a few weeks and so will be quiet for a while, but promise to return with some drawings of places that look suspiciously like Mordor, and whatever else catches my eye. In the meanwhile my show at Southwark Cathedral remains open every day for another four weeks, hurrah!