Wednesday 8 April 2015

Sketching Amulets at British Museum

  After a couple of weeks of endlessly moving boxes around and weekends dismantling a wardrobe and bookshelves, it was time to get out the house and to finally get round to  meeting up with Margaret Cooter et al sketching in museums. The destination this week was the Islamic Gallery in the British Museum - the streets were solid with buses due to  Kingsway being closed after the fire last week and it took 20 minutes queuing to get in the building (lots of foreign student groups) so I was a few minutes late. So much gorgeous subject matter  to choose from -  I was sorely tempted by the glass but  got fascinated by the case of amulets including this fabulous cloth covered skull ( love those ears!) . 4 of us met up in the  Galley Café to look at each others drawings and  discuss favourite sketching implements ( a visit to Cornelissens  was a must). It was such a pleasure to  be with like-minded people after a few weeks home alone.

 There were several examples of clothing showing a variety of forms both in the gallery itself and in the section on 'life and death' in the main part of the museum

 I didn't get round to drawing this lovely drum-like  discs containing scared texts finely embroidered around the edges -  I had a preference for the more roughly hewn.
  The necklace above  had alum to  heal bleeding and prevent fires and a tortoise shell for longevity ( but not for the tortoise....)
 This Turkish amulet for a bellwether sheep  was fun  - loved the exuberant tassels and the crude stitching on the leather triangles. As it happens I have some  rusty sheep/goat bells at home in the garden bought in  a very non-touristy market in Turkey in  1990's  - each one has a different tone.

Travelling in  Greece, Turkey,  Tunisia, Iran and Syria , I've long had an interest in amulets and talismen. My copy of Sheila Paine's book is much thumbed even if she did mistake  rue for chickpeas, but then I did myself initially.  The photo above was of the  windscreen of the taxi we had in Syria in 2004 winding up a very narrow steep track to Saladin's castle  I'd wished he's had rather fewer and a better view! You can see how close we were to the taxi in front.
I've been thinking for a while of revisiting my idea of amulets against lost earrings. The journal quilt above I made in 2004  taking photo's of earrings and printing them on fabric combined with real examples attached to 3d  Flying Geese ( perhaps they could be found trapped in the folds...)
I think a visit to Pitt Rivers is long overdue.

1 comment:

Felicity said...

I nearly died of envy reading this post!British Museum, Margaret Cooter (I was so happy to meet her on our last trip to the UK), Pitt Rivers...

How wonderful!