The Ribs

The idea for this image clearly has its origins in China Mielville’s steampunk masterpiece, Perdido Street Station.

Ribs 11

In my imagining, an urban density of neon-lit blocks and dwellings, surmounted by a tall temple’s spire, has risen beneath the gigantic fossilised skeleton of an ancient beast.

So this image does not truly depict Mielville’s vast diverse metropolis, New Crobuzon. where the Ribs jut over Bonetown, a makeshift market of temporary stalls, with scanty brick buildings and abandoned lots edging dirty scrubland. Tools break and cement remains fluid.  A baleful influence from the gigantic half-exhumed bones limits development on the gravesite.

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This piece started as an A1 size memory of the fallen tree in backlit woodland, drawn in chalk pastel, washed and blotted.  Seeking to further disintegrate it, it was wetted and covered in inks and white gouache.  Weeks later, I drew the Ribs into the dried-dark image in oil pastel and painted onto this resist with diluted white acrylic.  This still exists in that form, awaiting further work. I took a digital image and explored future directions of travel on the iPad in ArtRage.

9 responses to “The Ribs

  1. I like how you re-imagined and reworked your earlier piece. I’m too precious with my pieces and only try to tweak them even though they’re just going to be filed away pending a future clear-out. However, I can see the value in what you did – the organic origin comes through really well, which sounds like it matches the spirit of the fictional city.

    • Thanks Tim.
      I am precious in the same way. The Experimental Drawing workshops help like group therapy so we are brave enough to destroy work. Also, taking photos on the way helps me let go.
      It is worth it, I am sure. Perfect art is kind of dull in my view.

  2. My friend Martin Bridge works layers of paint almost as incantations. He talks about how the underneath layers shape and inform the finished piece, even if they are obliterated or removed. It’s interesting to think about the connection you may have felt between the fallen, rotting tree and the vital-amidst-decay urban landscape imagined by Mieville!

    • Hi Kate
      Thanks for the link. I liked Martin’s work. I was reminded by your comment about how Mark Rothko was said to work, building up surfaces from successive layers. As for me, its rather simpler. I don’t have a sense of direction when I start a big piece like this.

  3. I keep coming back to this to have another look. The more I look, the more I find in it. I read ‘Perdido Street Station’ as a result of one of your previous posts (Garuda) and the book is quite amazing and I definitely see the link with this.

  4. Pingback: The garden beneath the bones | kestrelart

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