As part of the National Gallery study day MA drawing course was asked to respond to a work in the collection that related to our individual studio practice. During the workshop the picture I chose to sketch ‘An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump Room’, Joseph Wright ‘of Derby’ (1768), which I found to be the painting nearest to my studio practice in making drawings around science and health. However, today wandering scientists have all but disappeared & I am rather reluctant to depict modern scientists as mavericks.
The painting I chose to respond to is ‘The Avenue, Sydenham’, Camille Pissarro (1871). ‘The Avenue, Sydenham’ interests me for a number of reasons. Firstly, I am inspired by the Impressions, such Camille Pissarro. Since engaging in the National Gallery study I have also read with interest about how the Post-Impressionist painter Paul Cezanne may have suffered from diabetes & theories about how diabetic retinopathy may have affected his painting in later life. The second reason I am interested in Camille Pissarro’s ‘The Avenue, Sydenham’ is I can see the Church tower depicted in it from my studio. Finally, there is a figure in the foreground of this painting who, intriguingly, has all but disappeared from it. Again, as my studio practice evolves I find it reassuring to think that even imperfect pictures can be well received on such a grand stage as the National Gallery. I planed to redraw a ‘The Avenue, Sydenham’ as it is seen today & reinstating the missing figure. I find who the missing figure might be/or represent an interesting question.
My initial idea was to draw some sort of social commentary on the pandemic of obesity in the UK. However, I was uncomfortable with is as I feel many people in my area are overweight as result of poverty. I may be being over cautious in self selecting subject matter here?
National Gallery Workshop 27-28 March 2014
Post Workshop Exhibition:
From the Wimbledon Blog: