nunhead cemetery

Another try at drawing trees, this time at Nunhead Cemetery. I love this place, it’s one of the ‘Magnificent Seven‘, which includes Highgate Cemetery (where I made the recent post about Audrey Niffenegger & Tracy Chevalier).

I didn’t know how to tackle the leafiness of the ivy on the tree trunk; I wanted to capture its texture and darkness, but I didn’t want to make it over-fussy either. My amazing sculptor friend Eddie Smith has also been making tree drawings at the same cemetery (he pulled a wad of them out from under his kitchen sink when I was last at his house). His tree marks are so gestural they’re almost unrecognisable as trees. Which looks great, and very energetic, but I quite like capturing interesting details as well and making everything very solid and, well, ‘tree-ish’ (as the hobbits would say in Fangorn Forest). So hopefully practice will help me navigate between large gestures and fine detail, I’m still not sure what I want to go for. My marks got more and more gestural toward the end, when I saw how I was running out of time.

Like Highgate, Nunhead Cemetery’s being left in an intentional state of ‘managed neglect’, which means there are all sorts of hidden wonders to be found amongst the ivy. Here are two tiny gravestones just next to the one I was sitting on. (Mine seat was someone’s dad.) And lots of dogs off leads. I’ve been well and properly licked.

I had the most therapeutic sight, in front of a school between home and the studio. The Deptford JAWS OF DEATH. I wish I’d caught on film the bit when it munched through a huge window. The sound was incredible. (Sorry, it’s rubbish quality filming.)

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