Tuesday 25 February 2014

Malta Sketchbook #4: Tigne Battery - Gun Emplacement

Tigne Battery - Gun Emplacement
(2B mechanical pencil in A4 sketchbook)

Sometimes it's great to just sit and take the time to make a careful drawing of something. That's what I did with this page of the sketchbook, using only a 2B pencil to capture the tones of this concrete structure which used to house some of the defensive weaponry.

Thursday 13 February 2014

Malta Sketchbook #3: Tigne Battery - Gnomon

Tigne Battery - Gnomon 
(Rotring Art Pens, black and sepia, over two pages of A4 sketchbook)

For some reason, I stopped dating the drawings in this sketchbook, so I'll have to give them titles. This one I've called "Gnomon" after the part of a sundial that casts the shadow.

You can see that this concrete building was badly damaged by the Luftwaffe during the War, leaving it shattered and pockmarked. I find this sort of ruin every bit as fascinating as some ancient archaeological site, like Stonehenge or Lanyon Quoit. It would be better if the graffiti, drinks cans and bottles, used condoms and syringes were cleared away, but hey, you can't have everything when it comes to urban archaeology.

Wednesday 5 February 2014

Malta Sketchbook #2: Tigne Battery 15 Sept

Tigne Battery 15 September 1995
(Charcoal and compressed charcoal over two pages of A4 sketchbook)

I went back to the Battery the next day and with two kinds of charcoal, got this image down. I loved the grooves of the concrete walls and the way the arm of the metal hoist curved across the darkened entrance.

Tuesday 4 February 2014

Pension Kastelli

Pension Kastelli (Oil on canvas, 12 x 12 in) Private Collection

I painted this after our last trip to Crete and gave it to Pat as a Xmas present. It's a picture of Pension Kastelli, the place we stayed in in Chania and I'm posting it now because we're going back again!

Last year I was so dogged with poor health that there never seemed a time when a holiday would have been enjoyable. Things in the eye department have settled down now and we think a trip abroad to see the Spring flowers on Crete in May is just what the doctor ordered.

We decided on this almost immediately after seeing the John Craxton Retrospective at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. Although he always rejected the label of Neo-Romantic, John Craxton was certainly influenced by the 19th century sources of that movement, William Blake and Samuel Palmer, as well as Picasso's Cubism and spent some time with Graham Sutherland in Pembrokeshire.

However, it was his discovery of the idyllic landscapes of Poros, Hydra and Crete that opened the way to paintings of breathtaking shimmering light with a fascinating technique using coloured lines "to explain the play of light on contours."

John Craxton: Landscape, Hydra (Tempera on canvas)

Of all the paintings in the show, I think it was the one showing asphodels that decided it for us - asphodels are always dead and shrivelled in September when we normally go on holiday: 

John Craxton: Reclining figure with asphodels.

Saturday 1 February 2014

Malta Sketchbook #1: Tigne Battery 14 Sept

Tigne Battery 14 Sept 1995 
(Charcoal, coloured Conte and 2B pencil, over two pages of A4 sketchbook)

A couple of days after arriving in Malta, I came across Tigne Battery. Barely discernible through graffiti (including a swastika), a commemorative stone read:


Looking about, it was clear the Battery had been badly deconstructed after that, during the Seige of Malta in the Second World War, but to me it was immediately fascinating. Broken and stained concrete, rusting metal; what's not to like?

I hurried back to the hotel, collected my drawing bag and discarding the smaller sketchbook, got to work in an A4 sketchbook. This is the first drawing I did, showing the entrance to a gun emplacement, the gun having long been removed, of course. There's a long tradition of pictures looking through from one room to another and this a variant, I suppose. I like the feeling that something or someone may be waiting in that darkened interior.