Last Wednesday I decided to take myself up to London after work, to do some drawing. Several months ago Donall and I had wandered into the newly reopened Topolski Gallery, where Memoir of the Century by Feliks Topolski is on display to the public. This huge series of drawings, paintings and magazine layouts used to be viewable free, in a series of dark, dingy cavern-like spaces under one of the railway arches at Waterloo Station, London. The atmosphere in the old gallery used to be a part of the exhibition's allure - Topolski recorded, often at first hand, most of the important events of the twentieth century, in his strongly expressionistic way. The high grimy walls wore his (often large-scale) images like tattered posters from the past. Walking through rooms that faded at the corners into pitch black, viewing the crowded scenes at Hitler's rallies, celebrations of the coming of peace or the signing of world-altering treaties was very moving. There's a lot on the Internet about the old galleries, if you Google Topolski's name. I've been trying to add links to it but can't seem to find anything that will make a link.
Anyway, the gallery under the arches was closed for a couple of years, and then reopened in the same place, after a revamping by the local Council (to whom Topolski had given all the work before he died) funded by the National Heritage Fund. Now there's an entrance fee and considerably less of an atmosphere of danger and doom, and some people (including me) wonder if it is an improvement. However, one new development I do like - one of the rooms is now used as a life-drawing studio on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. Donall and I had discussed going along there but never done so. (Poetry Cafe on Tuesdays and Bang on Thursdays used up all my time, energy and money for travelling up to London midweek in term time)
So since I haven't the heart to go to Poetry Unplugged and Bang said the Gun on my own while Donall is in Ireland, I thought I would try the class out. And it was great - a very good model and a calm atmosphere, with music playing softly in the background, and about ten different poses in three hours! The longest pose was half an hour - most were much shorter, including a lot of two minute drawings. It certainly made you look and draw fast! By the end I felt like an athlete must, after a heavy training session following a long lay-off!
I shall probably go again before Donall gets home here again, and maybe we'll both have a couple of sessions after Easter....
Here's a half-hour drawing in brush-pen (a drawing brush with an ink cartridge) from Wednesday's session.... Rather paltry when you look at Feliks Topolski's life's work ...
An occasional diary of days in the life of Jan Windle
- Jan Windle
- Guildford, Surrey, United Kingdom
- Like a butterfly emerging painfully in several stages I've morphed a few times in my life, from art student to teacher, from rebellious confused twenty-something to faithful wife and well-meaning mother, from bored middle-aged art teacher to egocentric freethinking Italophile and painter. For the last few years I've been writing poetry and painting, drawing illustrations for my own work and other peoples's, and sharing as much of my time as possible with Donall Dempsey, the Irish poet who has owned my heart since I met him in 2008. We've spent working holidays together since then, writing, painting and enjoying ourselves and each other's company in a variety of places from New York to Bulgaria. We visit the Amalfi Coast in Italy every year, on a pilgrimage to the country that that I believe saved my life from sterility and pointlessness back in 2004. I'm looking forward to a happy and creative last third of life - at last I believe I've found the way to achieve that. I have paintings to sell on my website, www.janwindle.com, and books and prints at www.dempseyandwindle.co.uk. But I'll keep on writing and painting whether or not they find a market!