Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Drawing Tuesday - Birch Baskets at the British Museum

Yesterday  was the first Drawing Tuesday of 2017 and  10 of us turned up at the British Museum ( must be all those New Year resolutions about drawing more...)   We had a very convivial lunch  spread over 3 tables, but  first the drawing . The  venue was room 91 , the shadow puppets,  which were wonderfully  intricate, colourful  and diverse but  after my visit to the BM in December, I knew I wanted to spend more time with the vessels and prints  next door in Room 90

 This  display was the print 'Winter Soderstorm' by Gunner Normann  with various  baskets by Finnish artist Markko Kosenen.  I loved the  combination of the delicately observed trees in the lithograph with the vessels made of the  material of the subject matter.  
  I started off with a very rough sketch  of the objects over a faint version of the trees, soon discarding the idea of drawing the willow basket, , gorgeous as it was.

 The notes on the construction of this birch bark basket were informative  about the use of  white birch  asymetrically woven  so the outer white part of the bark was inside. It really glowed.  It was challenging to draw, I kept getting lost, but persisted.  So many ways it could be represented, I  got involved in the quality of the edges, it would be interesting to have a go drawing it on a larger scale.
After such a labyrinthine  subject , I turned my attention to  the more substantial vessel made from layer upon layer of birch bark  which was then hollowed out, very satisfying to attempt to capture it's combination of fragility and solidity.  

 This exhibition   is so well thought out , every object and print so pleasing,   that I'll definitely be  making a repeat visit.  That  could not be said for 'South Africa' Art of a Nation ' which I visited after lunch.   I wanted to like it having  very fond memories   of a plant conservation  work trip there  several years ago but was underwhelmed.  It was just too broad  with  tribal artefacts  mixed up with contemporary art, neither a historical  or an art exhibition but a mish-mash.  The African  gallery downstairs is  far more interesting.    

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