26 May 2015

Drawing on Tuesday - Imperial War Museum

 The intimidating guns outside the museum (which until 1930 was the Bethlem Royal Hospital) are 15-inch naval guns developed in 1912 and used on 22 ships - like the model below, which sits at the entrance to the WWI galleries.
After a bit of drawing amid the cacophany of sound and low lighting of the galleries (fine for walking through, less good for staying in), we ended up in the more spacious central area, which held planes and jeeps and other larger military equipment. The engine of the V-2 rocket called to me - was it skeleton-like, or more like guts? - but despite my fondness for drawing bones and tubes, it all but defeated me.
 I was not bold and decisive with it, perhaps from some idea that you have to know what things are called in order to draw them [wrong!]. Or perhaps I didn't spend enough time Just Looking before leaping in; in any case, as time went on, my drawing was getting nowhere; written analysis didn't help, nor did trying to start with the darkest bits or focus on negative spaces -
 Eventually a tiny corner took shape -
Being some distance away didn't help. The closer view was fascinating ... I'd like to know what the "dangling" the pipes are for -
Here is the rocket being installed piecemeal at the museum; at the very end, showing the other side of the engine, now covered by the carapace.

The museum cafe was convenient, if crowded (and rather pricey, but aren't they all?). We were lucky to get a table, and Cathy got the prize (had there been one, and there wasn't) for Sketchbook Cover. Neither camera nor photo editing caught how the stitch colours interact, around the printed shapes -
 She had been drawing the doodlebug, suspended overhead, and included a bit of the V-2 to give it some context - and the impression of forward motion -
Janet B turned from drawing soldiers' uniforms to these three toby jugs (the museum has at least 10 in its collection) -
Janet K was interested in soldiers' kit too - 
Sue was drawn to the shapes within a large rusty object - obviously a car of some sort - and later learned it had been donated by Jeremy Deller. Called 5 March 2007, it was rescued after being mangled in the al-Mutanabbi Street bombing in Baghdad, an explosion that killed 38 people in the "street of the booksellers", a centre of literary and cultural life in the city.
" It is more than wrecked. It appears to have been flung in the air, crushed, then burned in an inferno. It suggests a human body in a deeply perturbing way," said a review of its installation in 2010. It toured America - representing the effect of war on civilians - before coming to the museum.

For completeness' sake, my other drawings - , and some grappling with that rocket engine
warm-up blind drawing, funny helmet, uniform (I quite liked
drawing the uniform, with its floating cap
grappling with that rocket engine
some sort of result
Interesting facts about Britain on the eve of WW1 -
-life expectancy was 54 for women and 50 for men, and whereas the median age of death in the prosperous West End was 50, in the poor East End it was 30
-school leaving age was 12, and by age 16 only 6% of children were in education
-only half of men (and no women) had the vote
-a pint of beer cost 2 (old) pence
-there were 300,000 horses in London - and 3000 motor buses, but most people used (horse-drawn) trams
-half the world's ships were built in Britain
-1 in 20 of the British population emigrated

And also -
In 1914 the average wage for a basic 58 hours working week was 16 shillings and 9 pence. By 1918 the working week was 52 hours and the average weekly wage was 1 pound 10 shillings and 6 pence.

1 comment:

Kathleen Loomis said...

what a great museum this is! I agree with you about the dearth of places to sit down. but the new WW1 exhibit is pretty impressive, don't you think?