Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Chieftains

I got into traditional Irish music while at high school. One of the less commercial bands we listened to was the Chieftains. While working in London in 1990 and 1991, we often travelled up to Leeds to visit my wife's mom. She booked us tickets to see the Chieftains at a hall in nearby Bradford.

I had a field day, or evening, drawing the band members in a tiny sketch book. I don't know any of the musicians' names, but these drawings mean I'll always remember them, including this harpist.

A Chieftains flautist.

This was, if I recall correctly, a purely instrumental group. This guy may look like he's singing, but I think he was on the bodhran.

The uilleann pipes are the Irish answer to being short of breath. Whereas the Scots have to blow into their bagpipes, the Irish squeeze the thing under one arm.

The inevitable penny-whistle.

That bodhran player.

And the piper, again.

This is that harpist in a music trance.

The fiddlers were out in force too.

Another old hand on the fiddle.

Then a vast switch. My wife Robyn worked for a time teaching on the academic side at the Barbara Speake Stage School in East Acton. This is the eponymous head of the school, which had one claim to fame: Phil Collins, he of Genesis fame, was a product of the school. Phil's mom was still working at the school as secretary while Robyn was there.

I did a walk around the grounds of St Paul's Cathedral, where I came upon this weathered sandstone carving.

A detail of Big Ben - though of course it's the bell not the tower that has that name.

On another trip up north, we attended a show by a Russian ballet company in Leeds. It is not easy drawing in a theatre - firstly because it is quite dark and secondly, in the case of ballet, because the performers don't keep poses very long.

So essentially it is about capturing the feeling of movement, rather than doing accurate drawings.

I remember mouse-type costumes among the male dancers.

And some with cowboy hats.

This is possibly the most complete sketch I got of a ballerina.

Here, the dancer appears to wear a mask, but I think it was just erratic drawing.

Yes there were definitely mouse- and cat-like creatures about.

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