Bearded men in miniature

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The impetus behind these drawings was an upcoming miniature exhibition. The title is “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” and it will be held in Juniper Hall, a beautiful historic house on Oxford Street in the centre of Sydney. Oxford Street and Paddington in general is an area where the young men you see are frequently beautifully turned out, with immaculate, chiselled beards. When I started thinking about subject matter, I realised that if they were simply reclothed in the outfits of a bygone era, they could easily travel back in time a hundred years and no-one would bat an eyelid, yet still be part of today, and even tomorrow.

The more references I found, the more fun it became – I did large, loose drawings, not trying to be too literal, then scaled them down and redrew them till I was satisfied with the character that emerged. Only one is intended to represent a real person and that is the one at top right (above), who is based on an old photo of Ned Kelly, one of Australia’s most notorious bushrangers.

Three of them will be framed and submitted for the exhibition – in the main image, the top left (1916), bottom left (2016) and probably the top middle for 2116, but I’m not quite sure about that yet. I thought about adding colour, but in the end have pretty much decided to leave them black and white … I think … (Click on the images below to see more detail.)

The next development of the idea is to draw them again very large, bigger than life size, with a lot of detail, and maybe let them develop into something more abstract.

I used a Pentel brush pen, with permanent ink, on drafting film. It glided on beautifully, very satisfying to use.

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18 thoughts on “Bearded men in miniature

  1. Ned Kelly certainly doesn’t look dangerous and he is the only one gazing back at the viewer. Isn’t it curious how the fashion for beards comes and goes. I think beards are supposed to go hand in hand with coffee-drinking and intellectualism.

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    1. It is interesting how fashion changes, but I don’t remember a time when there were so many beards, and so many beautifully manicured ones. I think the intellectuals had scruffy, nicotine-stained beards, along with tweed jackets with leather patches on the elbows – these are more your street-wise hipsters and gay guys! Except for Ned of course … actually, I have just realised that the one looking at the viewer isn’t Ned. I made the mistake of arranging the single images differently from the way I had them on the single sheet. Ned is the angry looking one with the hair swept up on his head.

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  2. These are wonderful Anna. There was a gentleman that I would see from time to time with the most amazing mustache. He looked so current and yet from an earlier time. I think I might have obsessed on how he was able to grow such a mustache.

    I love the line quality you were able to create on film. There is a slight ghosting that really works, perhaps thats the quality between the past and present.

    I hope these do well in the exhibit. I would certainly enjoy seeing them in person. Looking forward to seeing what happens next.

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    1. Thanks Cathe – I started noticing these guys a little while ago, the care they took with getting the shape and style just right was impressive, they certainly demand a second look! I have loved working on the film, the pen just loved it. Being able to get incredibly fine lines as well as heavy sweeps is so pleasurable! And yes, I love that ghostly feeling. A friend on Facebook commented they were like the ghosts of Victorian sailors, which is an idea I really liked! Hopefully they will be accepted into the exhibition …

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  3. When I think beards I think Dad, When we were away on vacation by the ocean, my sister and I hid his razors wanting him to grow a beard. He did and has kept if for about the last fifty years. I really like your drawings! It will be interesting to see them large taking on their new life.

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    1. That’s a wonderful story about your dad Nancy. Once a man has settled on a beard it is often for life – I have known my husband for well over 30 years and have never seen him without one. I’m delighted you like the drawings – the large ones have started, and I am having fun with them, they are quite different from the little ones!

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  4. Hi Anna – a new departure I see: I like the drawings, but I think it an odd look and its all over the part of London I’m in. I can’t work out what the women equivalents wear in this hipster look. I’m reminded of George V and his cousins …is that what puts me off?

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    1. I don’t dislike the look, most of them are so beautifully trimmed and groomed, but it really has become ubiquitous. I can see the George V and Duke of Kent etc connection, but I think these are a little less establishment! I am having fun just playing with the idea – there are more to come!

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  5. I love this series, I watched a documentary on SBS on makers and the showed pictures of shops in Fitzroy from late 1800s, which sold hats with the bearded men sitting out the front. They then showed a current shot of a bespoke hat shop run by bearded hipsters and they looked just the same! Like you I enjoy this fashion and as I work in Fitzroy I am surrounded by them every day. Karen.

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    1. Thanks Karen – one of the things I really like about this style is the care that goes into the presentation of these beards, always immaculate, and generally the owners are dressed well too, such a pleasure to look at! And I do think that is a link to the earlier times too. I’m having heaps of fun with these, the next post will be on the bigger drawings I have been doing.

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  6. Each has a personality of their own Anna ! I feel I ‘d like to find out a little more about one or two of these Gentleman 😉
    I’m so out of it all I’d not heard of Hipsters until fairly recently when I mentioned to my DD about the proliferation of men in beards 🙂
    Beatuifully drawn Anna .. I’m just about to see how they evolve …

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    1. There may be some interesting characters there Poppy! I read recently that the beard trend is already over … I’m clearly not at the forefront of trendiness, but I found them fascinating to research. Thanks Poppy, lovely to have you back!

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