Saturday 29 August 2015

Sketching Ceramics at the V&A

 I thought I knew the V&A pretty well having been a regular visitor since the 1980's when I was at  university just round the corner.  But I  haven't been  up to the ceramics  on the 6th floor before  which was the destination for Sketching Tuesday  earlier this week.  With excellent light , sketching stools readily available  and a vast  collection,  it was a fantastic if overwhelming choice.  So many shapes, textures and colours, where to start? I spent  almost an hour wandering around,  gazing into cabinets. 
My preference is for early, relatively  plain  wares : when I did pottery evening classes in Shepherds Bush years ago  with Marta  Donaghey, my inspiration was prehistoric/ Neolithic pottery  and  I made masses of thumb pots incised with different marks.  When I go on holiday  I'm actually  really interested in seeing  all those broken bit of pots in  dusty museums!

I loved all the examples of oil lamps  ( above) it looks like the curators had fun arranging them - all  similar shapes yet unique , handmade.

  The colours of the stacks of bowls  in the  Middle Eastern section with their lovely glazes   and the subtlety  of the  Korean? dishes really appealed  but as  I  only had  graphite and ink as drawing media   I sought out some interesting shaped  vessels  to draw

 Some of these early  Chinese ceramics  caught my eye

 In the end I settled  for this pert   Chinese  ewer  with 3 feet from about 2500BC  - made from the same clay as porcelain  but before the high temperature kilns had been invented , it remained as porous earthenware ( but more resistant to heat than other clays) . This and it's distinctive shape  suggests it was placed over a fire for boiling water. I'd intended to  draw it with the  amazing coiled structure behind but ran out of time.

From my viewpoint I could only see 2 of it's  feet ( with the shadow of the third in the glass)  and  found it far more difficult to draw than I'd anticipated . Huge amounts of rubbing out and correcting were involved - get one part right and then another would be incorrect !   Over coffee and custard tart later , I was trying to explain to the others  the frustration  of capturing  something that is irregular and imperfect   - between eyes and pencil , your mind tries to correct it, drawing what you think ought to be there rather than what you actually observe.   I  was pleased with the handle though!

1 comment:

Rayna said...

Elegant ceramics and an elegant sketch. Thanks for sharing these, Mags.