Drawing the exhibition -Robert Hannaford 

On a visit to  Adelaide a week ago we saw the retrospective of the work of Robert Hannaford, a South Australian portraitist, at the Art Gallery of South Australia. It was fascinating to see what 50 years of work looked like, particularly the many self portraits Hannaford has made over that time. I also enjoyed seeing that he made the type of quick sketches in coffee shops and bars that many of us make, which are worthwhile in themselves.  

What did surprise me were two sculptures that were included in the show. His understanding of the figure in space I found to be even more compelling than his painted portraits. As I was with other people opportunities for sketching were limited.  I  sketched two versions of his bronze sculpture ‘Handstand’.

Rather wonky, but I couldn’t resist the dramatic shadow being cast by the left leg over the torso of the sculpture

You can find more of his work at his website

Art and the Beach

It’s rather embarrassing but I have just found this post from early February 2016 which I forgot to post, so somewhat belatedly, here it is.

I love visiting the city of Adelaide and a trip to the Art Gallery of South Australia is always on the ‘to do’ list. On this visit I wanted to see The Power of Pattern: the Ayako Mitsui Collection, which highlights kimonos and the stencils and techniques used to decorate fabric. While there I also took the time to do some drawings of some of the sculpture in the main gallery.


Statue of Eros, 1892-93, by Alfred Gilbert, new casting in aluminium, 1986-88; and Torso by Jean Broome-Norton, 1935, painted plaster. Pencil on grey-toned paper 5 February, 2016

After a bit of culture it’s also good to catch a bit of nature, in the form of one of Adelaides beaches. Saturday was near perfect beach-going weather with a clear sky and very little breeze. The water was crystal clear over a white sand bottom so visibility was excellent. After quite a bit of decadently floating around, my nephew and I started looking at the various things we could spot underwater. Apart from ‘the usual suspects’, seaweed and razor clam shells, we found a big chunk of smoothed bottle glass and somewhat unexpectedly a large piece of an old LP record. The latter had also clearly been in the water for quite some time so I couldn’t say exactly what music had been entertaining old Neptune.


Sea ‘treasures’, pecil on grey-toned paper, 6 February 2016

Brushing up

During my brief stay in Adelaide I visited the Art Gallery of South Australia to see a ‘mini’ exhibition of calligraphic works on display in their Asian galleries. The exhibition, Brush and Ink, Contemporary Asian Calligraphy, displays large scale calligraphic works from China, Japan and Mongolia.

Japanese artist and commercial designer, Hiroko Watanabe’s installation takes up the end wall of the room. According to the room notes the 3D nature of this work is reflective of her work making commercial light-boxes to be placed on buildings. I always like to see ‘gesture’ in drawing and this work has it in bucket loads. I gather from the various reviews of this work that it was actually made during a performance with the group Above the Clouds, as part of the OzAsia festival. An interesting review of Watanabe’s performance can be found here.

"The value of the so-called invisible wind", Hiroko Watanabe, ink on Japanese paper (washi), 2014

“The value of the so-called invisible wind”, Hiroko Watanabe, ink on Japanese paper (washi), 2014

The Mongolian calligrapher’s were a revelation, quite literally I have never seen any of this calligraphy before and I only recently learned that there was a Mongolian script. This plaque attached to the Yonghe (Lama) Temple in Beijing is written in 4 distinct scripts from left to right as you see it Mongolian, Tibetan, Chinese and Manchu.

Inscription on the Yonghe Temple Beijing in  four scripts, (l to r) Mongolian, Tibetan, Chinese and Manchu.

Inscription on the Yonghe Temple Beijing in four scripts, (l to r) Mongolian, Tibetan, Chinese and Manchu.

The exhibition room notes say that ” calligraphers from Mongolia often describe the physical act of writing from the top down in one fluid motion, ‘as a man riding a very fast horse’, or like a falling coin'”. I can only concur as the overwhelming sense I had of these works was of their dynamic motion. This ceiling to floor work by D Ganbaatar is a case in point.

"Mongolian Pride" , by D. Ganbaatar, 2013, ink over 6 sheets of papyrus

“Mongolian Pride” , by D. Ganbaatar, 2013, ink over 6 sheets of papyrus

I’m still trying to understand how this work “Aspiration”, by Lkhagva Tuvshinjargal, has been made (apologies for the light reflections in the photo, they were unavoidable). I couldn’t tell if this was white ink on a previously prepared paper or some type of reductive technique, like bleach taking colour out of a dark cloth. If anyone knows how this technique is achieved I’d be interested to find out.

"Aspiration", by L

“Aspiration”, by Lkhagva Tuvshinjargal, 2013, ink on papyrus

If you would like to see more of  Lkhagva Tuvshinjargal work I found some on this Hungarian blog (Google translate works well as my Hungarian is non-existent).

I also enjoyed this small collection of calligraphy on ceramics, from the AGSA’s own collection, also on display as part of the exhibition.

Ceramics by Shoji Hamada and Milton Moon (and possibly another artist who's name I've forgotten)

Ceramics by Shoji Hamada and Milton Moon (and possibly another artist who’s name I’ve forgotten)

Additional images of Mongol calligraphy can be found on the following sites:

Mongolian National Modern Art Gallery – calligraphy

Mongolian Calligraphy on Facebook


Virgin of the Offering

When I opened my sketchbook this morning I found another blind drawing that I had made almost a month ago, while I was visiting Adelaide.

This drawing also took place while I was having coffee, at that time in the courtyard of the Art Gallery of South Australia. The drawing is of the Virgin of the Offering by Emile-Antoine Bourdelle, 1921.

The Virgin of the Offering, Emile Bourdelle, 1921, bronze

The Virgin of the Offering, Emile Bourdelle, 1921, bronze

I was also interested to see that an almost identical sculpture by Bourdelle, The Virgin of Alsace, is located at the Dean Gallery in Edinburgh. In the Edinburgh sculpture the Virgin is looking out at the viewer, the sculpture in Adelaide has her with her gaze lowered. Quite clearly clever Bourdelle has made two versions of the same work with only minimal reworking.