Doodles in the margin from an artist living and working in the Scottish Borders.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

John Betjeman's 'The Third Man.'

'Spies.' Pen and ink on cartridge paper, image size 17cm x 29cm.

All the structural stuff in this drawing is featured in a documentary made for the BBC by John Betjeman about railways, which was itself featured in another documentary on BB4 about railways in film and fiction. They showed a brief clip of this shot where the camera panned up from the dark tunnel to the ironwork bridge to the buildings beyond, and my antennae stood straight up. I love the massive solidity and complexity and weight that a lot of Victorian railway and industrial architecture has, and for some reason I'm intrigued by the notion of layers and depth in architecture, and as soon as I saw it I really wanted to draw it.

I had to scuffle around on the internet to find a video of the documentary and I took screen shots by using the 'print screen' function and stitching them together to work from.

Because Betjeman was walking across the bridge as the camera panned up, he appears in two different places in two different screen captures. I liked this, and drew him in twice. Mrs Johnson, looking at the drawing in progress, remarked that the two figures in their overcoats and wide-brimmed hats, looked like spies, and another little light went on. That's when I drew in the third figure (the third man...) standing in the shadows at the bottom.

I think what I seem to be saying is that practically none of this appears to be my own idea.

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