Monday, 22 February 2010

Old Drawings #53


Crustacean Root (Charcoal, compressed charcoal on A1 cartridge paper)

In 1999 I was doing research for my BA Dissertation on the Pembrokeshire landscapes of Graham Sutherland and in an effort to get first hand knowledge of the area that so inspired him, I took the opportunity of a stay in Swansea to go for the day to Picton Castle.

Everything I'd read told me that Sutherland had donated his considerable archive to Picton Castle in the form of the Graham and Kathleen Sutherland Foundation, so it came as a big disappointment when we got there to find that everything had been shipped off to Cardiff and the gallery space at the Castle was devoted to contemporary Welsh artists. Apparently funding for the Foundation had proved insufficient and all of Sutherland's papers, drawings, paintings had been lodged with the National Museum Wales.

But the trip wasn't wasted by any means. Before going back we had time to wander along the shores of the Eastern Cleddau where the shaly soil of the banks has fallen into the curious shapes that fascinated Sutherland and where the twisted roots of old oaks poke out into the air.

This drawing is one of three inspired by the roots of the Eastern Cleddau shore. Not done in a terribly Sutherland manner, but they are important to me. As each of them developed, accidental effects made them take on individual characteristics that the original roots didn't obviously possess. This one, for instance began to take on the look (at least to me) of some kind of lobster or other crustacean. These drawings represent an approach not yet explored but waiting for the time to be right.

Just to round this story off, I did get to see the Sutherland Archive in Cardiff. It was unbelievably thrilling to be able to sift through his sketchbooks, squared-up photographs, watercolours, prints and paintings. Definitely a trip to remember.

7 comments:

Casey Klahn said...

Harry, I can't say enough about this composition. Except to say that your technique is great, too.

harry bell said...

Many thanks, Casey!

Anonymous said...

It is always a sad day...you have read about...researched....become a fan of...you go there its closed....the collection is moved...it opens for the season next week...its season closed last week...my wife hates these wasted day-outs...I end up in the dog-house again...

Phil

nanke's stuff said...

This is a wonderful drawing - the values, lines, and textures come together to make a really splendid piece. And it's all the more wonderful for the important meaning it has for you. Well done! nancy

harry bell said...

Thanks for that, Nancy.

phthaloblu said...

Lots of good stuff here. The contrast and the composition are wonderful. Love the loose feel and the boldness of the dark tree trunks. Then the delicateness of the root's lines and the brightness of them, too, as they reach like a skeleton hand. Beautiful!

harry bell said...

Many thanks for your detailed comment.