On as warm a day as London autumn could give us, Steve Roberts our senior lecturer invited us to Mudchute Farm for a day of sketching the animals. After getting lost about five times on the way I was able to meet up with everyone.
I started with attempting to draw the llamas, but it became evident quite quickly that the animals weren’t going to cooperate. The llamas sat huddled at the far end of the pen, not great for understanding their posture or movement.
Ambling around I found some curious sheep, hungry for a meal. It was interesting to see how they stretched over and squeezed through bar to get to handouts from the park’s visitors. Also how they laid down, front legs first, seemed incredibly awkward.
The chickens scurried about too quickly for me to be able to capture them.
The donkeys weren’t doing anything interesting either. Their movements though reminded me of Muybridge’s 19th century experiments with animal locomotion, although his subjects were primarily horses (Eadweard Muybridge and Lewis S. Brown, 1957).
I also found some goats bucking, which was a beautiful movement, but difficult to capture.
The drawing was punctuated by conversations about the animation industry. It was a good day of practice but it was evident that I am a long way away from being able to understand and translate animal movement into drawings.
I have recently arrived in the wild lands of London and decided to begin getting acquainted with the city by being a tourist and seeing some museums (typical, fresh of the boat stuff). The Natural History Museum as always is first on the agenda.
To this I decided to invite my classmates to be, wholly expecting maybe one or two people to join. To my pleasant surprise about 10 people responded. Of which 5 people turned up in the end.
The exhibits were meticulously planned and composed allowing clear view of many prehistoric and present day animals. With the dinosaur exhibits it was clear that great care has gone into thinking about posture and movement by scientists over the years, we have come a long way from the 1854 reconstructions at Crystal Palace Park (Darren Naish, 2016) or Neave Parker’s beautiful but now considered factually inaccurate works from the 1960s (Natural History Museum, 2017).
Another exhibit of great interest to the group was the aquatic mammals hall. One person remarked “What is that?!” when looking at the whale skeletons that hung from the ceiling. It would definitely, in my opinion, be difficult for someone to discern what they were looking at if they had never seen a cetacean skeleton before. I suppose this is where rumors of see monsters begin.
When looking at an elephant skull I was reminded of a National Geographic Article that talks about the possibility that Greeks and Romans invented the Cyclops Myth when looking at Elephant bones, and I can understand why (Hillary Mayell, 2003).
All in all it was a great day of drawing the exhibits, getting to know animal anatomy and meeting my classmates.