Wednesday, 24 June 2015

The fascination of gabions

The word gabion comes from the Italian word gabbione meaning 'big cage'. Gabions can be cages, cylinders or boxes filled with rocks or concrete and are typically used in large-scale construction projects like civil engineering, road building and landscaping. They are also becoming increasingly popular as structures in domestic gardens.

I could see this ceramic sculpture from
where I was sitting. There are quite a few
of them along dotted along the canal
So I was strolling along the tow path looking this way and that and then these gabions caught my eye. They are supporting the bridge that was the subject of a previous drawing. I had in mind that I would try and draw the rocks, the metal cage as well as the leaves and produce something that would be very representational. I was to discover that I had set myself quite an ambitious task and became sidetracked into something rather more painterly and achievable.

I set up my sketching stool on the grass verge by the side of the wall to avoid being run over by cyclists, joggers and dog walkers and got stuck in. I can confirm that those leaves on the left hand side of the photo above are stinging nettles and it wasn't a great idea to brush my hands over them (I couldn't see any dock leaves nearby to rub on my hands to take the sting away).

It was a breezy day so I had to contend with paper flapping around and art materials flying away. There was regular foot traffic going back and forth over the bridge and I was surprised how clearly people's voices carried. I met my friend the car mechanic walking his boss's dog. He took a good look at what I was doing and was very encouraging. Then he said 'I expect you'll work that up more when you get home' and I realised that I wouldn't do that because once I've left my location I've lost my frame of reference. So I've realised that feeling the sun on my skin, or the breeze that blew my water bottle away and the sounds I'm listening to are as important as the sights I can see while I'm working.

Here's the finished sketch

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