I’ve been away from my studio for a while, attending an artist’s anatomy workshop in Edinburgh over two weekends with a trip down to London in between. Time to learn and see new things, time to recharge my batteries, time to ponder new horizons.
Waiting for a train into central Edinburgh inevitably feels like a lesson in perspective, looking at how the lines converge into a vanishing point in the distance..
You know that lingering doubt when you’re heading to a workshop, entering a strange building with your fingers crossed you are indeed in the right place at the right time? Well, standing on a fifth-floor landing in St Margaret’s House, after deciding I couldn’t face the stairs and would get in the lift with its “no more than four people or you will get stuck” notice, wondering whether to go left or right for the anatomy workshop, there was a skeleton pointing the way to the studio. It’s the second time I’ve done Alan McGowan’s Anatomy for Artists workshop, and I’m pleased to be able to say a lot more of the information has stuck and I found myself seeing/recognizing a lot more. (There are a couple of photos from the first weekend’s anatomy drawing here.)
In London, my first stop was Tate Britain, with its relatively new rehanging “500 Years of British Art”. Four bus loads of school kids were waiting for the 10 o’clock opening too! Some of the gallery is still undergoing rebuilding, but there’s another, new circular staircase leading downstairs. With all the arches it felt like being in an Escher drawing. Nevermind the art, this architecture isn’t to be missed!
Amongst the artworks that captivated me this visit was a sculpture by Barbara Hepworth, titled “Corinthos”. The interplay of shapes, light, dark and shadow. What you see through it, depending on where you stand.
Next cultural stop was the Maritime Museum in Greenwich, for the Turner and the Sea exhibition (on in London until 21 April; travelling to Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts from 31 May to 1 September 2014). I particularly enjoyed seeing some of the paintings that inspired Turner. (I’ll be writing an exhibition review with some photos soon.)
I also popped into the National Gallery to say hello to Monet and Van Gogh. Outside, in Trafalgar Square, the latest Fourth Plinth is a giant, blue cockerel. Position yourself right, and Nelson’s column becomes a birdfeeder.
Last culture-vulture stop was the Victoria & Albert Museum (known simply as the V&A). It’s home to a mind-blowing, inspiring collection of cultural artifacts from across the world. I specifically wanted to see Constable’s cloud studies again (up in the Paintings gallery, where few people get to) and Leonardo da Vinci’s notebook.
The V&A has five of Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks, known as the Forster Codices, which you can page through online. The sketches on the page on display are shovels for digging. I find it a powerful connection across history, visualising him holding these sheets of paper, selecting what ideas to write down (and being thankful to live in an era where paper is an affordable item).