Life has got in the way of art for the past couple of months, but I have begun new projects, among which are small clay figures. It’s early days on these and the time it takes to do them is not in proportion to their physical size. The first one is a representation of one of the mummies I saw in Palermo (photos show work in progress and the finished figure).
The final effect will depend on the surface treatments. I won’t be using ceramic glazes but intend to use various forms of paint and collage.
This worked out pretty much as I intended but I wasn’t satisfied with it. It seemed too clean, too organised, compared with the way I paint. At the end of my work session I created a very rough, simple form based some watercolour drawings. Although it’s quite crude, I feel it’s the more effective way to go, just squidging the clay roughly and using hands as much as tools. Again, the addition of colour will be part of its evolution.
Last week a long weekend in Palermo to visit something I have wanted to see ever since I first heard about it – Catacombe dei Cappucini. This extraordinary underground burial chamber contains thousands of mummified bodies, the first mummified in the 16th century, the last in the early twentieth. It is well catalogued in websites, so worth looking on a search engine to see the variety and arrangement of the remains. There are several broad corridors, categorized for the monks, priests, men, women and children. Out of respect and to help preserve the bodies, no photography is allowed, so I spent my time drawing. (Incidentally, I don’t understand why some visitors seem proud of themselves when they manage to flout the no photos request.) Each mummy has an individual character, and the clothing enhances the differences. It is a truly astonishing and humbling experience to be allowed to see this.
I have about 25 drawings and some diagrams, so I’m not going to post them all, but these are probably my favourites, the last (below) a marvellously simple form – not quite fully skeletonised and bound in a plain robe.
The drawings were done in black ballpoint in a small Moleskine sketchbook. (There is a ghost image in these scans which is the drawing on the next page showing through.)