Friday, December 29, 2006

Plant motifs and art (#1)

Yesterday I visited the V&A Museum in South Kensington with an old friend whose job involves extensive travel to very interesting parts of the world. She has a very keen interest in the traditional art forms of different cultures. The ground floor level of the V&A is a delight in terms of the juxtaposition of European decorative art from medieval and renaissance Europe and the decorative art forms found in China, Japan, Korea, South Asia and the Islamic world. It was great to visit with somebody who'd just got back from central Asia!

The V&A is very civilized and has small folding stools which can be used by artists who have come to draw. Partway through the visit my feet gave out and so I sat on my V&A stool and did a very quick (unfinished) pencil sketch of a palampore in the South Asia (Nehru) Gallery - which is in Room 41. And no - I didn't know what a palampore was either! Mind you I wouldn't mind in the least if I had a nice bit of hand painted chintz from India c.1700 as a bed-hanging.

What I noticed particularly on this visit is the extent to which plants are used as motifs in both realistic and abstract forms. When I got home I studied the website and doing a search on the term 'flowers' produces 2,211 items in the museums's various collections. As a result, I think I'm going to make studies of a number of plant motifs on my SGFA drawing day at the V&A next week.

Here's my list of things to look out for - and this is just based on the things we saw yesterday!
There's a very interesting page on the V&A website "About Plant Motifs". The website of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York also includes sections on vegetal patterns in Islamic Art and plant motifs.

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  1. Oh that is so funny, I thought of you as Tom and I drank a cup of tea in the cafe and I looked at the statue you'd drawn. We used the stools to sit and draw a cast of a George and the Dragon statue.

  2. Hows lovely to be able to take the image away with you. I'm trying hard not to be envious. I would so love to sit on a little stool in the V&A and sketch flowers. Thank you for the links, Katherine. I feel endless hours of delightful distraction coming on. My very best wishes for 2007. ciao Robyn


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