Here is another sketch of Moore’s sculpture in the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. I sat to draw so my eye was aligned with the knot and radiating cracks in the wooden block. One might view this as a mutilated man, two limbs hacked off in battle. From this angle, though, my view was different. Here is a male body. The one leg, bent at the knee, truncated at the foot, and one arm and hand, wielding the shield as defence and weapon, are sufficient. On the side facing me, the limbs are still present, just not actualised, and instead expressive power is given to the shoulder and hip.
Here are three sketches using ink and water, undertaken in half an hour during a family outing then rebuilt in conte crayon later in the day.
Rabindranath Tagore, who, I learn, reshaped Bengali poetry and was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature, is the named sitter for Jacob Epstein’s bronze bust.
Not so Marguerite Milward’s models: anonymous “dancing girl” and “Moorish camel driver” viewed as ethnographic types for the catalogue of humanity. Social anthropology played twin roles in the twentieth century, exploring and understanding the cultural diversity of our one species and contributing to the hierarchical racial concepts that are the cornerstone of Empire.
A source on the net tells me that Milward, a rare woman sculptor, was Tagore’s guest for a time, invited to teach her craft and vision, and apparently playing a role in shaping the development of modern Indian art.
These busts are part of The Past is Now display at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. In a few simple exhibits, a discarded phone, a Birmingham-made bicycle, it shows graphically that the past is indeed now and the waxen cold hand of Empire reaches yet from the vault.
Soho House was the elegant Georgian dwelling of the industrialist Matthew Boulton who, working with James Watt, developed steam power to support mechanisation in factories. HIs mint first struck the large British copper penny which I remember being still in circulation when I was a child.
The Birmingham urban sketching group met there a couple of weekends ago. Walking there along the dual carriageway opened my eyes to the varied urban landscape, dotted particularly with widely diverse places of faith.
My first sketch, a warm up, was lightly drawn in pencil, worked up in pen and then again in crayon. It was intended to be much more abstract, incorporating the lines of the building right into the tree shape, but deviated to become more straightforwardly representational.
I was less interested in the House itself than in the backdrop of smaller homes set at angles to one another yet sharing one roof. This I worked up in pencil then pen, aiming to capture especially the reflections on the windows. Eventually I brought in a wider range of colours and tones with conte crayon.