Thursday, October 07, 2010

Mermaid fountain, Trafalgar Square, London

Trafalgar Square Fountain © Peter Gander
Returning from The Mall Galleries in my lunch hour the other day where I saw and met Yorkshire artist Ashley Jackson at his ‘Power and the Passion’ exhibition, I emerged short of sketching time. I had only a quarter of an hour or so to sketch and returned to one of my favourite drawing subjects, the fountains at Trafalgar Square. This particular mermaid fountain is by Sir Charles Thomas Wheeler (1892-1974). There are two like this in Trafalgar Square dating from between the World Wars. The other one is by a different sculptor and features mermen. There is something about these verdigris-coloured figures and their mystical nature that reminds me of the Ray Harryhausen films I watched when I was young in the 70s where such mythical creatures came to life, like Medusa, harpies and cyclops. Fantastic stuff! The tiny sharks visible here skim the scales of the mermaid in such a skilful way and the sculpture reveals new surprises from whichever angle you view the piece. Quite an achievement. I hope to produce a 'fully-fledged' painting of this fountain, people, National Gallery background et al at a later date, it's such a rich view. 5B carbon pencil (the ones without the wooden surround) and watercolour on heavyweight cartridge pad.

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