At the life drawing session, the model was once again Sophie who holds the most amazing positions and whose animated features still shine with humour as we draw. Previously I have worked in charcoal pencil and conte crayon. Today, I worked in pen and ink, grabbing the wash off the nib with a water brush. The first 2 minute poses were drawn free but subsequently I built a construction in pencil.
Sophie has beautiful tattoos. For the first time I tried to at least reference these in the longer drawings.
Last week I went to my first live gig since lockdown. Lara Jones opened. Lara is a saxophonist who builds tracks that incorporate sounds she hunted down and recorded, from the noises of the railway station to her wife’s heartbeat. This was in St John’s Church in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham. I was drawing in the dark and some distance away. A diminutive fiigure in that setting, she cast huge shadows.
Lara was opening for an hour long performance of Pendulums by Andrew Woodhead. This is a sumptuous piece in which a six piece jazz band improvised, synchronising with pre-recorded animated visuals, depicting shifting geometric shapes representing the mathematics of campanology, and with eight church bells sounded by ringers in the belfry.
This week the model was willowy, so different from the solid man last week whose bulk naturally filled an A4 page. The page was mostly space. By the time we reached 20 minute poses my charcoal and conte pencils were blunt and I was trying fine lines with the edge of conte blocks. Mostly I could not wrap my brain round how to draw her. She had a lively curious face, holding a pose while her eyes darted across us. I wish I could have captured that.
I found an advertisement for a Meetup for weekly life drawing. 90 minutes, starting with 2 and extending to 20 minute poses. Taking my lead form Rosie Scribblah, I worked in black, sanguine and white conte crayon on toned paper.
In the 1927 film Metropolis, Maria captivates the workers through libidinous behaviour and leads them in a destructive orgy until, fearing for their families, they turn against her. Bound and burning, unrepentant, she is revealed to be a robot, a doll, a false prophet manipulated by the ruling class. The true Maria defends her honour on the cathedral roof until rescued by the hero.
This corny myth could be used to signify the whole history of the 20th century and from any perspective.
My aim was to deconstruct the lino printmaking process to reflect the destruction of the robot. I experimented with sprinkling the block with a little finely crushed salt but this near completely prevented transfer of ink to the paper. I also worked into the paper with white conte crayon, which works well as a resist with watercolour, but this failed to inhibit printing of the water-based, but much thicker, printing pigment. So I resorted to cutting back into the lino, extensively removing the image, then rebuilding it in gorilla glue. Activated with water, this adhesive froths and expands before drying. I sliced it level with the lino leaving a minutely cratered printing surface. I cut back into this to restore some of the lines. I varied the inking and pressure to get different effects.
The twitter hashtag #WOMENSART brought to my attention the poem Dangerous Coats by Sharon Owens linked to a surveillance photograph of suffragette Olive Beamish from 1914. In this linocut I don’t capture her facial likeness but I have explored textures of the coat with large pockets.
Here are a range of sketches I undertook.
From Wikipedia I learned of the Cat and Mouse Act passed by the Liberal government, legislation designed to thwart the suffragettes on hunger strike in prison.
In her poem Sharon Owens equates “sedition”, at that time, with commonsense, fairness, kindness, equality. Faced with a law-breaking, lying, callous, killing government, we may all need pockets to promote these values.