Thursday, November 20, 2008

Trees at Tate Modern

Yellow Silver Birches and the Thames (at Tate Modern)
8.5" x 11.5", pencil and coloured pencil in Daler Rowney sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Yesterday, after I heard Cin's news (see end of story), I had that 'there's no time to lose' feeling - and saw three exhibitions in one day, sketched the Thames from both sides of the river and finished up buying some books about Edward Seago. Keeping busy also seems to help when you have very sad news.

I remember watching Melvyn Bragg's amazing interview with an incredibly lucid and articulate Dennis Potter just before Potter died of cancer of the liver/pancreas. He was swigging morphine for the pain, announcing he had christened his tumour Rupert (after Rupert Murdoch who he detested) and talked about his plays and how he was was in a rush to make sure he could finish his last plays.

He also described how his senses were heightened by the news that he didn't have long left and how he was finding he noticed things in a completely new way. I'll never forget how he described the blossom which he saw outside his window in Ross-on-Wye as being
"...the whitest, frothiest, blossomest blossom that there ever could be".

I suspect the same thing happens to many people who know somebody who's dying or has just died. I know it always happens to me - and it's always about the visual.

Yesterday, I had lunch in the restaurant on the 7th floor of the Tate Modern. It has the most spectacular view of the City of London skyline.

As I looked out the window, my eye kept being drawn by the intense yellow leaves of the silver birches which are planted in serried ranks in the forecourt of the Tate.

The trees had been demanding to be noticed from the point when I'd sat on the other side of the Thames sketching. Having noticed the trees yet again, I had to try and draw the trees - and the wash from the boats which juxtaposed wonderful diagonal lines against the slim white trunks of the birches.

This is a drawing for Cin as she can't come and share the view right now.

[ UPDATE: Cindy Woods - learning daily (1956-2008) ]


  1. It's a very thoughtful and touching way to share your feelings, Katherine. She's been much in my thoughts since yesterday, even though I never commented on Cin's blog, it was one of the first I bookmarked and I've popped in many times over the last couple of years to enjoy her beautiful, elegant and sensitive sketches.

  2. Thanks Robyn.

    It's a very sad loss, but I'm glad for her as she had decided enough was enough.

    I didn't know how to say anything at all on Wednesday, got slightly better on Thursday (which I actually think was all about my response!) and then after she died tried again. I don't know if it's any good (I've added a link) but it's what I feel right now.


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