I’ve been away; to Hamburg and to Turkey, with Walter. I took along a selection of drawing materials hoping to find some time to draw, and was glad I did as I found it a welcome relief at times, to sit and draw.
I also went walking on my own, with my camera, and took lots of photos of the lanscape and small details of local life. The
area we were, the Bozburun Peninsula is still wild and relatively unpopulated, but it is fast being taken over by indiscriminate developments. Some of this is on the wild hillsides surrounding Walter’s house, and it hurts my heart to see the huge, ugly diggers desecrating the landscape, scraping away the maccia, home to such a variety of wild-life, insects, lizards, birds and mammals, and the domesticated goats and sheep which are grazed there.
I was fascinated by the daily life of these animals and their owners, the goat-herds and shepherds who wander the rocky hillsides, in the heat of the day, coming home at sundown.
The house is very basic; few mod-cons. I used some of the kitchen equipment and simple ornaments as subjects for the drawings I made. The sun rises quickly in that area and the house is open and airy and full of light, so it was not really possible to arrange the objects so that the light was coming from one direction.
The drawing here: Retsina Jug was me forcing myself to use hatching, which I do not enjoy, but was determined to try, having seen these etchings by Giorgio Morandi, in the Estorik Gallery in London.
Giorgio Morandi. Still Life with Five Objects 1956
Giorgio Morandi.Still Life of Vases on a Table 1931
I found it difficult to make consistent lines and became bored with the background. I think it was a mistake to use two colours (of ink pens), but I wanted to break the composition up. This taught me that I am not good at repetitive close work. I do like the stylised look, however.
The charcoal and pencil drawing of Dried Flowers, I felt may not fit the brief, but I need practice at anything, just to become more confident with using the materials, and I’d never used the chalky coloured pencils before. The subject attracts me. I gave the flowers, while still fresh, to Walter when I left his flat in Hamburg, 4 months previously, and he kept them undisturbed, as I’d arranged them. I was touched to see them preserved, yet somehow neglected. (This is a characteristic which I see in him.) I like the forms and trying to capture the delicacy of the grass seeds. I think I managed the tonal contrasts quite well, by allowing the paper to show through, and adjusting the pressure I used. I had in mind an oil painting by Thema Hulbert which captures a vase of dried flowers, using similar colours.
Another painting of hers, of shutters, inspired me to draw the shutters in the house in Turkey. Again, this does not follow the brief, but the subject was there, and the inspiration in my mind, and I did not want to lose the opportunity.
The drawings of the teapot, sketches, I suppose, although I have little idea of where the difference lies, I did to see if I could get the shape and perspective (difficult for me still) and I tried in two different media. The brush pens in my hand produce a much more stylised drawing. (Not sure if this might be called an illustration. Again I don’t know where the difference is between drawing and illustration.) I am happier with the pencil drawing, as I think the instrument is more forgiving of my inexpertise.
The same applies to Still Life with Three Objects.
I had a go at drawing a coffee pot and kettle in pencil and charcoal.
The next two, Unstrung Clown Suspended and Tattered Mind are very personal pieces. I have suffered with severe mental illness and there have been times of frightening mental instability when I’ve been in Turkey. The poor clown puppet, who hangs, disregarded from a sort of gallows, signifies something deep within me. Tattered Mind is a natural sculpture (I hope not too grand a way of considering it), I made from pieces of flotsum I picked up from the beach, having swum across a large bay to try to escape my demons. The drift wood I collected on the other side of the bay and swam back with, with the objects tied to it in an old plastic bag. It was a hard swim, and at times I wondered if I would have to ditch my cargo, but I was determined to swim on. It was highly significant to me to challenge and triumph over the difficulty, and I had a clear idea of what I wanted to produce with my objects – a sculpture that captured the disorganisation of my mental state. I look on the slowly disintegrating result of my efforts with compassion, and I wanted to draw it before it disintegrates entirely.