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Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Choose wisely, Dr Jones....

Petra in Jordan, one of the Seven New Wonders of the World and famed fictional location of Indiana Jones's Holy Grail. We didn't have much time there despite leaving at 2:30 am and returning to our hotel at midnight,so this is a very quick sketch, but you don't see a wonder without a bit of pain.

Jordan is mostly desert but spectacularly beautiful. I hope to return.

If you'd like to find out more about Petra, Married to a Bedouin is a great biography of Marguerite van Geldermalsen. She is a New Zealand woman who married a Bedouin souvenir seller and moved to Petra during the 70's and 80's.

Egypt 2

Isis carving at Philae in Aswan. 
Tombs of quarry workers on the Nile bank.

Kom Ombo temple at sunset
Kom Ombo temple

Hieroglyphs in the tomb of Rameses IV

Some more sketches of Egypt. The paintings in the Valley of the Kings were amazing. They are bright, vibrant, graphic, and much bigger than I expected. In one tomb, KV14 , you could see the outlines that the artists drew onto the plaster thousands of years ago.

I've never been much of a fan of Ancient Egyptian art, it can look twee and formulaic in reproductions and it's analytical approach (some pictures are the artistic version of a circuit diagram) seems strange when you're accustomed to the Western artistic ideas of self-expression or realistic representation of a scene.

 This trip changed my mind. The real thing has much more of an impact than I expected, especially the hieroglyphs which included at least five identifiable species of birds (You might have gathered from some of my previous posts that I don't like generic pictures of birds, I like to know what I'm looking at) This is something that I didn't expect from an alphabet. Some of them are in the sketch above.

Egypt 1

 The hypostyle hall, Temple of Hathor, Dendera
 The Colossi of Memnon, Luxor

Just come back from 2 weeks in Egypt- here are some sketches from the trip.

 I have always been interested in Orientalist art- drawings and paintings by 19th century European artists in the Middle East and North Africa.  There is some controversy about this style. At worst, it can be imperialistic, stereotypical and ethically questionable but at its height it produced some spectacular and beautiful art. It inspired me to travel (as did Herge's Tintin comics which have some similar issues)  
 This genre of painting includes some amazing landscape paintings with ruined temples covered in drifts of sand and tiny figures thrown in there to add some scale. David Roberts' pictures of Abu Simbel are maybe the most famous examples of these. It was inspiring to draw in some of the same locations.

 Egypt in summer can reach 50 degrees C, and any artist who bothered to visit before the invention of air conditioning has my respect whatever their motives.