A rogues gallery

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In the Police and Justice Museum in Sydney there is an array of mug shots of criminals from the early part of the 20th century. These faces each tell a story, whether it is of violence, or petty crime or a life lived in poverty and desperation. Each is unique and powerful. I have used some of those faces as a loose reference for these drawings, trying to get a little insight into the characters behind the faces, choosing men in hats as being typical of their era.

The drawings are in graphite on cigarette papers cut in half, so are very small, about 3.5 cm square. The cigarette papers seemed like an appropriate surface, as something that would have been very familiar to these men. It wasn’t easy to work on, very flimsy, so the drawings are a little scratchy. I have kept the glued edge on the left hand side of each drawing, and will probably make use of it when putting them together to make a book or album of some kind, I haven’t quite decided yet what it will look like, but with another miniature exhibition coming up in August I will need to make some decisions fairly quickly. I will do another post when the final is created! Below are the individual drawings.

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Kangaroo Paw

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Travelling last year in Western Australia, one of the things I particularly wanted to find was a Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthos manglesii) growing the wild. They are surprisingly hard to find – cultivated ones are found in gardens throughout Australia, but the green and red wild ones are much more elusive. So, I was very excited when we came upon a few plants growing in a wilderness area. These particular ones are not large, generally a single flower on a stalk about 50 – 60 cm high. It is a strange flower, with several tubular parts that split open at the top for anthers to pop out. It is pollinated by birds as pollen is deposited on their heads when they are searching for nectar in the tubes. The flowers are covered in tiny hairs which give them a velvety texture.

This drawing is an exaggeration – much enlarged, it is 42 x 41 cm which 7 or 8 times its real size, and I haven’t drawn the form with botanical accuracy, I have added fleshiness and an almost animal-like, aggressive quality.

It is drawn with coloured pencils, with a loose, textural background.