Thursday, 3 September 2015

Sketching Barkcloth at the British Museum

 This weeks ' drawing Tuesday'  expedition was to the  Pacific Barkcloth exhibition at the British  Museum ( which as the main  print /drawing gallery was closed, involved going up  through the Japanese gallery and then down again).  As I've already visited twice  before ( see here)  I already had an idea what I wanted to draw but  looked at it in a new perspective.
I settled on trying to capture the patterns of this loincloth  - through a very quick fine pen sketch  for a rough overall layout and then some details in thicker felt-tip.  The more I looked and drew, the more I felt a connection with the maker - the unevenness of the ink and line,  the variations in the surface,  and the riffs on  what seemed initially like the same  pattern.

 Concentrating  on the  patterns painted on the cloth , my attention kept being drawn to the fringe at the bottom and it's shadow, liking the  positive and negative shapes  so I   then attempted drawing this in 2H and 2B pencil. Lots of counting and rubbing out - it's still not quite right.  The light was so poor I didn't realise until I looked at the photos on the research pages that  its constructed  with 1  strip 'stitched' through the edge to leave 2 strands dangling - makes more sense than cutting into the edge.   

  I then turned my attentions  to this headdress  of barkcloth with bound feathers, drawing it from some distance   from a convenient bench then looking closer at the details of the bindings.  The feathers I particularly enjoyed drawing - pressing hard with a 2H pencil from the base and using my whole arm in a 'whoosh' of lighter pressure to the tip. Very satisfying to engage with materials - for years I've shunned pencil  wanting to dive straight into colour  but the City Lit drawing course   challenged my prejudices.   
 I  was trying  to remember what the feathers ( and the action of drawing them ) reminded me of , then looking through my photos from my first visit  to the exhibition in April I remembered- the etchings of paintbrushes  by Jim Dine which were in the next  gallery. I was then about  to start my printing course and look on them now with even more awe knowing what's involved. 


Kathleen Loomis said...

we saw both the barkcloth and the Jim Dine exhibits when we visited in April -- I'm surprised they're still up! I enjoyed both of them but didn't have time to stop and sketch.

Debbie said...

Love your sketches, sounds like a fascinating exhibition. I was very sad when the Museum of Mankind closed down many years ago now. Its great to see more of this kind of exhibit on show again even temporarily.