A Zoomorphic Carving
Fig. 1 Fig. 2
The idea of seeking change in my Acceptance drawings and paintings, the notion of becoming something that, perhaps, one feels one should have always been, has led me to think more deeply about change. My attention was focused on this point when I visited Gateley Church, Norfolk, and came across a fascinating late medieval bench end carving of a creature climbing up the bench arm on the south side of the nave, aisle side (Fig. 1), which I subsequently drew (Fig. 2). This is a zoomorphic carving, with such carvings being, no doubt, not uncommon in the medieval period, though, of course, six hundred years has not only reduced their number dramatically, but their meaning can now only be guessed at. The Gateley figure is a fine example, though the end of the tail is broken off, which I added in my drawing.
The size of the creature and the height of the bench end ‘poppy-head’ carving can be seen in Fig. 3. The bench end behind my mother shows the remnants of what looks like another example of the creature, thought this time crawling down the bench end.
The creature portrayed is not intended as a representation of a real animal, but is, rather, a mixture of different types, a kind of multiple portmanteau animal. The body, legs and feet are reptile-like, the ‘wings’ are stegosaurus-plate-like and the head and face, mammal-like, in the form of a bear or dog. It is, most certainly, a curious beast to say the least.
Fig. 5 Fig. 6
I decided to experiment with the life-size latex skin, or parts of it, that I had made (e.g. Figs. 4-6), working on the isolation of the figure on a pew. These just did not work for me and what I wanted to express.