21 April 2015

Drawing Tuesday - medieval gallery, V&A

Downstairs in the medieval section, it was "the lady in the window" that caught my eye - actually a 15th century English alabaster (another such in the V&A is here). The lady is St Catherine of Alexandria, the one represented by the spiked wheel, which shattered when she was strapped to it. So the nasty emperor beheaded her, as well as promptly killing the 200 soldiers who she converted to Christianity while imprisoned - and his wife, who also converted.
The point of maximum frustration occurred about halfway through the morning, when having worked first on the figure on the right, I realised that my hand had obliterated him while drawing the figures on the left. That wasn't such a bad thing really, as the reason for moving on to those figures was the knowledge that Mr. Right(side) was in the wrong position. So out came the rubber and it was on to a second version.
The vignette at bottom is St C. in the window, sideways on. I love the ribbons - medieval speech-bubbles (write your own text?) - and the dove/holy spirit blown down from heaven.
Unwilling to start on anything else of a similar scale, I found an old (1738!) bit of paper tucked into the sketchbook and drew St C. et al from memory. The folds of the cloaks weren't easily remembered. It will be interesting to draw it again from memory today or tomorrow, given that a week will have passed since the first attempt and since writing this blog post.

Emerging into the sunshine on the way to the cafe, we found the courtyard crowded and a multitude of happy tots splashing in the pool -
Caryl had been revisiting a sculpture of St Michael, using watersoluble crayons, but hadn't quite finished nor had she decided whether or when to add water. Sue's focus was a piece from 11th century Spain, each saint in the frieze with individual haircuts and gestures. She had used watersoluble graphite and crayon, and had applied water only to some areas -
 On the way out of the building I saw this chap and was intrigued by the "tassels" on his cloak -
 He's one of four figures in niches on the west staircase -
 From the side you can see that he's got a serious weapon -
 ... which I hadn't seen when sitting down on the convenient bench to draw him.
His colleague, with the elaborate scabbard and different dangly bits on the cloak, is further up the stairs. 

Bristol High Cross, the source of these wood sculptures, is shown in Robert Ricart's map (about 1500), the first such plan of an English town -
Erected in 1373, the cross was enlarged in 1663 to add four more statues of kings. It was moved to the Stourhead estate in 1730, and the statues of kings John, Henry II, and the Edwards (if indeed it is they) were replaced by copies in 1980. A replica of the original cross was started in 1851 and finished in 1870.

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