Friday, 5 August 2011

Strength, courage and majesty

The kitchen fitters have done their work so I have my studio back now. The daily drawing slipped somewhat over the last couple of weeks (not that it was daily before that – more like every other daily…) so trying to get back on track now.

Continuing the theme of still life with narrative, this drawing is of part of an old standard lamp which my grandmother had in her sitting room. I remember the carved lion’s head with the brass ring through its mouth fascinated and spooked me when I was a kid – it is slightly sinister (and appealing to my inner goth). I’d like to know how old it is and where it came from; I have a vague recollection that someone said something about it being used as a prop in theatrical productions somewhere but sadly there’s no one left to ask now so I guess I’ll never know.

Apparently the motif of a lion’s head holding a ring in its mouth dates back to Roman times when it was a popular decoration on furniture, the ring often being used as a handle. It regained popularity in the early to mid-18th century and can still be seen today in the form of door knockers. In Roman times, the lion head mask was a symbol of strength, courage and majesty.

I made this drawing over the course of three balmy summer evenings this week, sitting with the doors of the studio wide open. Sweet. I find it very useful to look at the scanned image afterwards; it often appears quite different and highlights elements I hadn’t noticed before. And sometimes I have to resist the urge to tinker further with a finished image.

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