I have been working steadily since beginning my three-month visit as a visiting researcher at Glasgow University. I am now a little over half way through my time here and I have been reading so much about life lived by William Hunter and his peers in London in the 1700’s that I feel as if I almost live there myself! So much so that it is a jolt to the system to step out at the end of the day from the library or from my borrowed office into the 21st Century milieu of Glasgow’s West End.
I have also been drawing however, from the anatomical specimens in the anatomy museum and also from the original Rymsdyk drawings themselves in the University Library Special Collections department. My aim with the latter is not to make slavish copies, but rather to use my own form of mark making and technique to respond to the work I have before me. The images below are drawings that are still ‘in process’. The adherence to the original is still a major factor in them but I feel that this is bound to change as work progresses. In the first piece I am using a ballpoint pen – an instrument that I believe was not invented until the late 19th century – and I wondered as I worked on this drawing (after Table Vi of The Gravid Uterus) what Rymsdyk himself would have had to say about it. Seems he was never too backward at coming forward with his opinions, as evidenced in the little disguised rant that accompanies his and his son’s beautiful drawings in his Museum Brittanicum, Being an Exhibition of a great Variety of Antiquities and Natural Curiosities belonging to the Noble and Magnificent cabinet, the British Museum, illustrated with Curious Prints, published in 1778.
My eventual aim is to use these drawings as a basis for an exhibition which will focus on the study of anatomy and way is it conceived and exploited.