Surrounded, but Still Drawing

I spent the afternoon at the British Museum with my drawing class this week.  Free to choose anything in the Egyptian or Greek rooms I set up camp near Ramesses II.  Measurement and proportion are the focus for this term, and I thought the clear lines and smooth planes of the bust would make it less difficult than something with more curves and swags.

I’d not factored in the effect of the sunshine, or rather not the sunshine per se, but its variability.  Sometimes it blasted the stone with bright white light, and for other moments, especially those when I was trying to work out how to shade my sketch, it disappeared completely.

There’s no hiding the size of the thing; it’s big, and it dominates the space in the Museum gallery, dwarfing the crowds of people who pass by.  And the Museum is a big draw, mainly for tourists if the evidence of my ears, was anything to go by.  In the three or so hours I occupied my little encampment only one group who passed by were English speaking, and they, oddly enough were a group of parents and toddlers in the company of a guide who was giving them a toddler friendly tour.

‘And look at this.  He was a boy called Tutankhamen who became King when he was 10 years old.  And how old are you Charlie?’


As I’ve found on previous occasions of drawing in galleries and museums, no matter how out of the way the corner I sit in, because I’m there, people will come to see what it is that I’m looking at, and to take a more or less surreptitious look at what I’m doing, and make more or less flattering remarks in languages I may or may not understand.

Because of the preponderance of people who go around the British Museum as part of a group, and probably because the Egyptian artefacts at amongst the biggest of attractions, I was frequently surrounded by people.  It takes a lot of concentration to pretend not to notice. 

But I carried on regardless, as mostly I was still able to see the statue, so high above the crowds does he sit, and by the end of the afternoon had arrived at this point.

Leave a comment


  1. It’s impressive you could work skillfully with all the hustle & bustle around you… I can rarely do that.

    • Interesting that I could sit there sketching, something I don’t feel any good at, but I’m easily distracted when it comes to writing.

  2. What Samir said : an exercise in more than just sketching. Perhaps some of the people thought you were a “piece” of performance art in your own right. Which, I guess, you actually were.

    • I think I did feature in a few holiday snaps, but then that often happens in London unless you keep moving….

  3. You’re doing well, Rowena – you’re obviously concentrating!


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