I am very grateful to the Greek and Roman Department at the British Museum which gave me permission to work in charcoal in their galleries and these drawings are among my interpretations of Pheidias' Elgin Marbles and the warriors in the Mausoleum of Halikarnassos (Room 21) which is kept extremely cold to preserve the delicate and beautiful pieces. The staff are only allowed to remain in the Halikarnassos room for short periods because of the cold and they were extremely considerate and took turns on duty thereby allowing me to complete my work albeit by the end of the process, with extremely cold hands!
Whilst sketching from the Elgin Marbles I became increasingly aware of the way Pheidias has depicted extreme violence in an almost balletic form. I was disturbed by this as we live in an era of 'spin' in which, for example, the death of civilians in war is described as 'collateral damage' - to me an unacceptable hijack of language designed to desensitise us to the consequences of war.
'Spin' is obviously an historical device to make war acceptable, so I decided to depict these young warriors as well trained killers caught up in the machinery of State during a war and the goddesses as culpable through their cold natures and cynical use of sexuality in their encouragement of violence in young men.
Drawing With Charcoal
Drawing with charcoal, I often spend many hours creating the surface on which I want to work before commencing the drawing itself. These surfaces are on various papers and I will often create a textured surface behind the paper I am working on to make marks that add an almost 3 dimensional sense to the final drawing.
The different types and different hardnesses of charcoal combined with the tremendous variety of papers and boards (in the case of Roseotypes® painted panel) mean that similar images can appear to be either radically or subtly, different.
The sounds of the different charcoals on the variety of surfaces also affects the way I feel both physically and emotionally which of course affects the final drawing both compositionally and atmospherically.
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