Monday, 29 October 2012

Ta Prohm, Angkor, Cambodia

To sit amongst the temple ruins of Angkor and draw has been a burning desire of mine for many years now. When I finally got the chance to visit last month I was smitten. The atmosphere and mood that this ancient place evoked was everything I hoped it would be. Within moments of arriving at the site I gravitated straight to this beautiful example of a giant strangler fig tree bursting through a temple opening and fusing together with the stonework to become an integral part of its structure. I estimate that the resulting drawing took about 5 hours to complete:


For the first part of the day I seldom glimpsed the doorway itself because of the sheer volume of people being herded into this small area by eager tour guides. So, I decided to focus my attention on the intricate root system which extends upwards and frantically sketched in elements of the doorway at every fleeting opportunity. Here is a ‘work in progress’ shot that I managed to snap during a brief moment when there were no other tourists posing in front of the iconic doorway:

In my experience of drawing on location, this was definitely the most mentally draining and it was not due to the complexity of the subject matter, no no! Instead it was the sea of camera lenses that were relentlessly pointed in my direction every time a large bus tour group came through. I am used to the curiosity of bystanders and typically relish the opportunity to speak to people that take an interest in what I am doing. This was different though - it was completely wild and never ending!

Despite feeling overwhelmed by the unsolicited attention at times, it actually turned out to be one of the most rewarding sketching experiences I have ever had and I hope to return someday to make some more studies.