Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Ipswich Museum

Apologies for the long silence on here - there hasn't been a great deal of 'stuff' to report on recently, but a couple of weeks ago I and a dear friend decided to take a turn about Ipswich Museum. I'd visited once or twice years ago with my high school, and I've been meaning to go back for... well, ages!

It's a very small museum, but I think it's absolutely beautiful, and so I just have to share some of the photos I took of it - permission has been granted by the museum, of course.

It's a general museum with various exhibits, but the part I wanted most to visit was the Victorian Natural History gallery that greets you as you step through the front doors - once you get over the mammoth towering by the doorway.



All the animals are Victorian mounted specimens and hunting trophies from all over the world, including the world's only fully-intact specimen of a Rothschild giraffe, highly endangered today.


The rhino that stands next to the giraffe was the victim of a theft a couple of years ago. Ivory thieves broke into the museum and hacked off its horn. They never found the culprits and the horn it has now is a replacement - with a little tag indicating that it is a replica.

Not even stuffed rhinos are safe from poachers!!!


Separate from the main Natural History gallery is another gallery dedicated mostly to British wildlife, in which there is a very nicely-made fox that I of course thought was far more interesting than most probably would!


It's just as well I didn't bother bringing my sketchbook with me as it's quite dark in the Victorian gallery (and i didn't want to make my friend stand around waiting for me to draw stuff!), but as the gallery has retained its old-world look the dimmed lighting just adds to the quiet, elegant feel.

Instead, I made some studies of animals from the photographs I took afterwards. Not exact copies of the specimens, as many of them are old and very... well... 'taxidermy-looking'. But I used their poses to make my own copies.
Red Fox and American Cougar

Great Blue Heron and Osprey
Male Muntjac skull


It's not a famous or large museum, but I think the Natural History gallery is wonderful! I hope they never even TRY to modernise it because it's just lovely!
If you're ever in the vicinity of Ipswich and like animals and old-style decoration, I highly recommend giving the museum a visit - with Christchurch Mansion also worthy of a gander a short distance away.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Natural History II

First post of the new year!! Right? *checks*
YES!

I hope everyone is sticking to their new year resolutions. My resolution to 'do art more good' is, I hope, progressing at a steady rate. I've been doing a lot of art this month, but most of it has been of the 'large images done in dribs and drabs that don't get finished for ages', so I don't have that much to show for this month's arty accomplishments at the moment.
BUT, I have, over the past couple of months, been drawing prehistoric creatures! Mammals, specifically. Mammals are my favourite group of Animalia, and who can resist the bunch of prehistory mammalian badasses that used to plod around where you buy your groceries and walk the dog?

So, here they are, in no particular order:

1. THYLACOSMILUS


These things. These things were like saber-tooth tigers. But way cooler. They were metatherian predators, which means they were marsupials - or part of the group of animals that modern marsupials developed from. They had weird plates jutting out of their lower jaws that their teeth slid against when they closed their mouths. The name suggests a close relation to the modern, but unfortunately also extinct, Thylacine, and I of course based my Thylacosmilus's coat pattern on a Thylacine, but since they went extinct a good 20 million years ago... the possibility of them having roughly the same coat pattern is probably unlikely (though if that coat pattern proved a particularly successful asset, then it could have been passed down largely unchanged). Anyway, because of the 'thyla' part of the name, I always pictured them as being pretty much Thylacines on steroids.

And so that's what I drew.


2. WHALE ANCESTORS

Whale ancestry is one of my favourite evolutionary things. Tiny deer/rodent-like animals becoming some of the world's largest creatures? Hell yes.


I started out with a Pakicetus, which is thought to be a very, very early basal whale. Their skeletons don't tell all that much about what they could have looked like in terms of fur and body build, but I always pictured them as similar in build to capybara, but with some serious teeth!

And after this, some slightly less detailed sketches of a couple of other early whales came about.




3. IRISH ELK


One of my favourite prehistoric mammals. Otherwise known as 'Megaloceros'.
Very, very big deer. With very, very big antlers. I always thought that if these deer shed and regrew their antlers every year like modern deer do, then it must have been a messy old time for them when they lost their velvet. Walking around with horrifically bloodied antlers like they'd just gored a mammoth.


4. SIVATHERIUM


Ancestors of the modern giraffe family, of which there are just two species left: Giraffes (with several sub-species) and Okapis.
I of course based my Sivatherium's coat pattern on Okapis.
I'm not sure how accurate I was on anatomy for this one. I have a feeling he's not 'giraffe-y' enough, and it was very difficult to get a good view of the shape of their horns. But, I still like him.


5. HYRACOTHERIUM



Early horses. Artist renderings of them always put me in mind of Chevrotains and mouse-deer, very sweet little species of deer-like ungulates. They are so adorable! So of course, my own interpretation is based on them, too.
Modern horses often stand and scratch each other's shoulders with their teeth, grooming each other simultaneously as a form of bonding, which is what my two Hyracotherium are doing here.

And... that's all my prehistoric mammals for now.

There will probably be another collection of them some time, as I have many more prehistoric monsters that I'd like to tackle - I haven't drawn an Andrewsarchus in a while...