Earlier this year I was given access to objects from the Zoology collection at Manchester Museum.
Below are a series of watercolours on paper. Paper size 11″ x 15″.
Here are of life-size drawings of specimens from Manchester Museum’s zoological collection.
I chose to draw skulls because they are like natural sculptures. In them, complex forms, hollows, curves, bulbous swellings, plates and ragged cavities flow and change direction from one part to another.
I have foregone traditional use of cross-hatching to show tone and shadow. Instead, using a steel nib dip pen and Chinese ink, I have taken clues from growth rings, pits, dots, edges, lines and squiggles on the skulls and translated them into a type of calligraphy.
By drawing many skulls, it has become apparent to me how topographically similar they are. Although the skulls differ in appearance, the separate parts of different skulls are roughly in the same relative position to each other. This applies whether reptile, bird or mammal and an ear cavity or jawbone in a bird has the same function as that in a baboon.
The drawings are also a meditation on death. I encountered the objects deep in the storerooms of the Museum. I have tried to bring something of these dead animals back to life and light by drawing them.