happy boxing day!

Heh heh, I bet you were expecting cosy Christmas photos, not a drawing of a fat Nazi.

Today Stuart and I met up with some friends at the Tate Modern and I was rather transfixed by an exhibition of historical portraits by German photographer August Sander. Some of the faces and outfits were brilliant.

I copied a of the photos few straight out into my notebook without using pencil, which I like doing sometimes. I never quite know what I’m going to get, so I draw very differently, a bit recklessly. (‘Ah well, that line’s down, nothing I can do about it…’) I didn’t really feel I got into the swing of it until I was drawing the third page (the fat Nazi).

We visited Chinese artist Ai WeiWei‘s exhibition of Sunflower Seeds in the Turbine Hall. It was pretty amazing, a whole lot of very busy Chinese people painted 100 million little porcelain pieces to look just like sunflower seeds. Yup, that’s a lot of seeds. The museum used to allow visitors to walk on them, but the seeds were kicking up dust and the museum thought it might be hazardous, so you can only look at them now. But it’s quite something, looking at that many individually painted items.

They had a video response thing you could record, and, true to form, I just hit ‘record’ without gathering a single thought in my head. Our friend Alisdair gave a much more thoughtful response which you can watch here on the Tate website. Here’s me rabbiting on nonsensically, another with Stuart and one with me and our friend Jamie.

And our fab friends, the Walkers, whom we know from when we lived in Moscow.

It’s beautiful walking from London Bridge station to the Tate Modern; I love this map of the riverbank displayed under one of the bridges. I bought a pretty little map book in the Tate bookshop, Maps by Nigel Peake, which you can pretty much read online here. I love maps.

Along the way, you’d see a replica of Francis Drake’s ship, The Golden Hind. I boarded this ship when I was a teenager and it was docked in Seattle, which proves it can really sail and isn’t just a bit of decorative fluff.

Speaking of lovely walks, there’s a great video here with some photos from Highgate Cemetery that Stuart just found on the BBC website. It includes Jean Pateman, former chairman of the Friends of Highgate Cemetery, to whom the writer Audrey Niffenegger dedicated Her Fearful Symmetry and who appears as Jessica in the book. (Here’s my post from earlier in the year about the book and the cemetery.)

And Christmas photos. In the late morning, Stuart and I cycled over to see Dave and James and have some bubbly. Here’s David O’Connell and me; we should have a picture book (based on a comic we made) coming out with David Fickling next Christmas, if all goes to schedule.

David O’Connell and Sarah McIntyre

And we had an amazing turkey dinner with all the trimmings in Greenwich, over at the house of our Kiwi friends Heather Kilgour and her partner Perraine. Heather writes and illustrates picture books, but her training’s in sculpture, and she worked on a lot of the city and elvish landscapes for the Lord of the Rings film trilogy. So she has lots of good stories about the sets and how you can make anything out of foam.

Sarah, Perraine, Heather, Stuart

Okay, and the rest of these photos are probably only of interest to people who know me from Moscow days, but several of them read this blog, so here you can see the Walkers and us (and say the inevitable ‘my, haven’t they grown’ type things. The kids, I mean.) We had lunch at Leon, which is just behind the Tate Modern and far preferable to their overcrowded, overpriced cafe.

Here’s Stuart and his goddaughter (who got Candy Gourlay’s Tall Story for her Christmas prezzie).

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