03 February 2015

Drawing Tuesday - the Spirit Collection at the Natural History Museum

You had to get up close to the jars, and we didn't find any sketching stools, so it was a matter of either standing or sitting on the floor. The contents of the jars could be somewhat ambiguous ... just what are we looking at here? -
Initially the groupings of the jars, and their individual shapes, attracted me -

 ... then I needed to look more closely at the contents, such as the four frogs in this one
or the single frog in a larger jar -
No restriction on charcoal here, it seems, so I could use the prepared page. The drawing seemed to impress a group of schoolchildren, who clustered round to look before being told to form a queue and head off to the mammals section.

There was time for a soluble-graphite snake and then off to the caf -
Nathalia had started with these spiky echinoderms, and went on to others with interesting shapes. She discovered why the labels were now kept inside the jars ... just look at what's happening on the left -
She was using a brush-pen and had other red-browns as well as black and white in a handy box -
 Sue found an amazing octopus -
 ...and then ran out of lead in her mechanical pencil, so had to incorporate colour to finish the drawing -
Below, some octopuses, including one that hides in nautilis shells, that she drew earlier.

Later I had a quick look at the Minerals section of the museum, which has delightfully old-fashioned cases and ornate pillars and walls -
and includes this enormous meteorite that was found in the Campo del Cielo, Argentina, in 1803 and came to the museum in 1826. It was part of a meteoritic impact that, from carbon-14 analysis of charred wood under some of the smaller meteors, occurred between 2700 and 2200BC. The Otumpa mass is solid iron and in some places has been rubbed shiny by touching over the years -
So many different minerals in the cases! Such shapes and textures -- and such wonderful colours! Here are some of the forms of haematite (iron), including the red ochre that is used as a pigment -
Outside the gallery in a dim corner is a case of fluorescent minerals -
and nearby are some dioramas made in 1957 by B.Newman and C.Sheppard. Captain Scott's ill-fated expedition to the South Pole collected stones, 35 kg of them, and carried them to the end -
The story of the pebbles from a penguin's stomach is a reminder that not so long ago the continent of Antarctica wasn't known to exist (click on the text to enlarge) -

Lots to draw in the Minerals gallery - a session there is scheduled for 24 February. Bring colour....

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