23 June 2015

Drawing Tuesday - the South Seas, mostly

The destination
Having read about "the boats" somewhere, I went to the Oceania section - and sure enough, the boat collection was impressive ... but poorly lit, too distant for my dim eyes, and incredibly complicated -

So I settled down with the "Stabkarten" from the Marshall Islands, which have long intrigued me - how can these things be "maps"? -

A sort of plan of attach evolved as I did the first blind drawing, following first the lines of the sticks and then looking at the spaces formed -
In the "careful" drawing, other details surfaced - the interweaving of the sticks, the placement of the shells (islands? stars?), the way they were tied together - which of these were meaningful to the users? Were "we" meant to decode them?

I've been intrigued by these maps for some time. This one was collected by Winckler in 1893 - he is the authority on these charts -
In this one section the museum has much to offer -

Forms of money - shells, feathers, "salt money", worked items

The "hooked figures" from the Sepik valley of Papua New Guinea where fascinating -

Suddenly I realised I was getting too involved in looking at the exhibits, reading the labels - rather than looking at the objects and drawing them. This was quite confusing ... and easy to do when you're on your own. Indeed, it can be part of the "project" - today I was looking at cultures that were new to me, so I got involved in the little film of cooking sago in the traditional pottery bowl, which allows a fire in wooden houses, and the associated traditional pan in which the sago breads are fried - a short excerpt (filmed in 1973) that raised questions about how the sago was prepared before it was cooked, about the time all this would take up, about much more.

The display of different sorts of houses
 was complemented by a case of models
 which I drew from another angle -
Artefacts from a men's house - at the back, painting on bark cloth. The spikes were used to hold trophy heads obtained in warfare -
The colonisers got represented too -

Large masks, collected in 1912 from the Baining people of Papua New Guinea -

and some dancing staffs from Duke of York Island

Another Baining barkcloth mask
Attached to the Ethnographic Museum is the Asian Art museum. On my first visit in 2009 I drew the Thai pots, some of which were made about 1200 BC, and they called to me again this time -

This delightful jar in the shape of a water buffalo was made about 2300 BC (Lopburi culture) -
Several attempts to draw him just didn't turn out; it was the end of the day.

An extra drawing day on the Friday took me back to the ethnographic museum, Africa section this time, and to the adjacent Museum of European Cultures ... more about that another time perhaps.

Today I'm off to the Bode Museum - Byzantine and early Italian sculptures.

(This post is linked to Off the Wall Friday.)


magsramsay said...

What a wonderful museum, I can see how you got distracted!. Any amulets?

Gillian Cooper said...

My favourite museum from my visits to Berlin. It has such a fantastic collection. Is the cafe still as good?!

Regina B Dunn said...

I've always been fascinated with anything from the Pacific. And when you take the time to sit and draw something you really see what it is. What a great museum visit.