Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Hold still, this won't hurt a bit

Between two successive waves of student cohorts (one out, another coming in) I snatch a day off. Scroll around the map looking for a place containing Interesting Things to Draw, that is also open on Mondays, in a reasonable travel radius.

Up to London then, but then divert from my usual route to London Bridge. Out of the maze into the ancient stable yard of The George for a pint and a pastrami sandwich. Round the corner to the designated attraction. Up the incredibly narrow windy staircase, popping out in what must have been the bell chamber.  Pay, and squeeze through the gift shop, up yet more stairs into the main room, which is an attic spaced stuffed with displays and artefacts, going by the self explanatory name of The Old Operating Theatre

This is museum of medical relics somehow in the ancestry of Guy's and/or St Thomas' Hospital. The collection is well cared for, and there is evidence of an active outreachy pedagogical approach but they've avoided the neat and tidy BBC effect. It's more akin to the old cabinet of curiosities beloved of the Victorians. The biggest category is Miscellaneous, but the two main sub themes are surgery and biologically derived medicine. Bones, skulls, drawings, books, diagrams of the inner parts of Man (and Woman, and Child), models, pills, stills, pots and pans. Tools of unknown gory function: needles, knives, clamps, saws. Forceps, dilators etc for the beginning of life. Unimaginable instruments for the ending of it, before it has even begun. Samples and boxes and tins of drugs. Apparatus for turning herb into potion or pill. Baskets of herbs and seeds and other plant material giving a warm spicy aroma. 

I settle in and sketch a scene of cases and piles of stuff, incidentally containing one flayed model human and a live pair, talking about museum things. 

Switch to close up for an impression of a still of some sort, surrounded by willow twigs (Aspirin). Fail to capture the quality of the twigs, but the roundness of the iron vessels is quite pleasing 
Pot and Still
Take a couple of shots of the Theatre itself, half heartedly.

The drawing wears me out prematurely (beer was the error?). So I stroll back to Waterloo. There are plenty of tourists around, and my eye picks out all the Nikon and Canon straps. Other middle aged blokes favouring lumpy SLRs, younger crowd into these snazzy looking micro things. Plenty of phones, obviously. We manoeuvre along the Southbank, and past, or rather through, Tate Modern (more quick sketches, loads of school trips amongst the weekday tourists) and various other stops such as Gabriel's Wharf. The sun pushes itself into the scene, so the ambience is delightful.  I manage a bit more photography, but I don't get into it somehow) and finally get back to my station before the rush hour starts.