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Roger Burnett Art Blog


A haunting vision from long ago...

by rogerburnett , August 3, 2013—12:00 AM

Topics: bathing, life, models, mythology, sculpture

A subject that I saw at a glance twenty-three years ago, has haunted my memory ever since. The place is a secluded riverside on the island of Grenada and the subject is women washing and bathing.

I alluded to the scene in my book "Caribbean Sketches" and noted that I have learnt more about drawing the figure at the riverside than I have before the artificially posed model in a life class. To sketch the figure in real life, be it at the market place or the riverside, one has to take time to become familiar with the subject and accept ribald comments with good humour. The befriending stage can take days or weeks, but finally the subject relaxes and accepts the artist as part of the natural scheme of things.

Such was my patience rewarded when one day, a young woman, undeterred by the teasing of her mates, planted down her basket of washing on a boulder close to my chosen spot. I rapidly made sketch after sketch until she had scrubbed, beaten, and rinsed her last item. But her day's wash did't end there, for she next deftly took off her dress and added that to the wash. Then, unabashed, she soaped herself down and - using a calabash bowl as a ladle - knelt and poured the cooling river water over her naked body.

Who says that idyllic scenes of nymphs bathing are restricted to past mythology!

That cherished memory is the subject for my next piece of sculpture and today's picture shows one of my preliminary sketches with the beginning of a 1/12th scale plaster maquette.


 

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