Monday, 29 June 2015

Archaeology paint and the Alentejo Montado Rob Miller and Manuel Casa Branca update

Over a 7 day period I worked  alongside Manuel Casa Branca making an exploration of the Megalithic objects found in an amazing profundity around the City of Mora.  


We made a day of visits to selected megalithic sites guided by Antonio from the culture section of Mora City Council. Antonia spent his formative years living and playing amongst  the Dolmen, living in a casa rural with his parents.  It was a privilege to get such a knowledgeable and personal guide who knew the area and history so well.  Antonio described the human history, geography and fluviology of the area  very well. Inspiring, Manuel,  Gracia and myself  to quickly sketch into our books the main attributes of the site. The two main sites we visited were the Dolmen an ancient burial site Anta Da Lapeira and the Cromlech at Fontainhas. 

 As we worked the thought that "Its not an easy task to paint megaliths" reoccurred in my mind. In reality  they are merely simple cigar shaped obelisks  composed into basic patters of semi circles or lines,  Onto these simple structures we attach 3000-4000 years of history and fables. I see my task as a painter, to focus on what I see in a moment. But I also felt that I needed to move slightly away from my normal work to a more exploratory one. The explorartion started on the internet, reading academic writings on the megaliths by archaeologists and geographers a well as looking at their drawings, plans of the sites and maps of Alentejo. Some time was then spent on gathering materials together and planning the time available. We also discussed the venue in Mora were we would show our explorations. The venue is quite a large room with two significant walls 7 metres wide and two other longer walls which are affected by windows, pillars and doors.


Initially we had arranged a house in Mora or should I say some rooms but the current heat each day of around 34-38 C  made the place sadly unusable. So we resorted to plan B, day visits and the work to be carried out in 9Ocre Gallery in Montimor some 40 minutes drive away from the principle megaliths. 

As my exploration moved on I began to feel the need to portray the megaliths within the landscape or as a part of the landscape rather than as an isolated object or as a study of the stones texture. Time was short and there was no way that I could complete any work on canvas that would be of the right quality, So Manuel and I hunted around a few shops in Evora and in the end we bought some rolls of screenpaper and brown paper. At this point our individual interpretations of the megaliths moved their own ways with Manuel giving a considered look at the complex mark making of the megalithic period along with the structure and texture of the stones. After looking at the stones and making some sketches based around the archaeological understanding of the stones my focus started to include the archaeologists themselves ad the way that many of the megaliths in the Alentejo had been painstakingly discovered and resurrected. in the last 200 years. 

Manuel Casa Branca 1

Manuel Casa Branca 2

Finally I hit on the idea of two 1 metre by 5 metres line drawings which I've pasted below. The two works are quite minimal but I hope that they demonstrate in a purely visual way each megalith in its environment, uncluttered by preconceptions. The two pieces are designed to fill the white wall at either end of the cultural centre and compliment Manuels work.

These pieces will be shown at the cultural centre in Mora this Friday 10th July 2015 at 10am. Hopefully Manuel will take some images of the drawings on the wall and I can blog them here.



Fontainhas Cromlech

Initial drawings and recordings on brown paper with ink, watercolour and charcoal fixed with varnish


Cromlech Fontainhas Mora Alentejo acrylic on brown papr Rob Miller
 270 x 100cm

Fontainhas sketchbook Rob Miller

chrcoal acrylics on brown paper fixed with varnish

Two,  metre x 5 metre charcoal drawings with some pencil of the cromlech and the dolmen Ante Da Lapeira that we visited with Antonio and Gracia

Monday, 22 June 2015

Iceland arctic watercolour paintings by Rob Miller FRSA

Flateyjardalu Husavik watercolour on 300lb paper
28.5cm x 19cm
Latrastrand North Iceland watercolour 18.5 x 14.3 cm


We spent a number of days sailing on a schooner from North Sailing across the ffiord from Husavik to Flatey Grimsey and then down the long loch past Hroifs-sker to Hrisey. The wind came cold blown with frozen rain except for two days of sunshine and blue skies. I managed a number of drawings and a few watercolours once we had landed. As always the salt spray did little for the sketch book which would not dry at all, so different from the en plein air of Spain and Portugal  so difficult to cope with when the scenes fly past in spectacular sequences with the sketch book totally wet.