Time to get some ideas
At the end of January we went back to Powis for the day, again in the college minibus, to spent a bit of time absorbing, drawing, photographing and thinking for more inspiration.
As on the last visit, we started the day off with a coffee (I was getting to like this routine).
Again it was decaf, which I don’t mind. Again, there were biscuits, which I don’t mind.
The purpose of day’s visit was to explore the castle individually. Since the last visit I had decided that I wanted to interview with my video camera some of the volunteers and find out about their favourite objects in the castle. I wanted to know what they liked about the castle and what had initially drawn them to work at Powis Castle and kept them there. I therefore went in search of candidates. At this point I had no idea what I’d do with that information or the interviews.
I firstly sought out the ‘book cleaning’ ladies that I had stumbled across previously as they had intrigued me. Most of them were called Anne, one was in her 90s, and they were all completely lovely. I put the suggestion to them that I might interview them at some point in the future and they seemed quite keen. The oldest of the book ladies was very enthusiastic about talking about her favourite object (if only I’d been able to record her words there and then). She talked about a book from the Powis library collection that was a translation of a French novel that was regarded at the time (and now) as extremely sensational and depraved. This book had been censored to the extent that the pages were blank.
Next, I managed to speak to two of the permanent volunteers who work during the whole year but spend the winter cleaning and maintaining the castle’s huge collection of objects. They both enthusiastically told me about their favourite objects (paintings). Powis contains many great paintings. I was impressed with these volunteers’ passion for their jobs, particularly the aspect that contained cleaning. The cleaning of the objects of Powis is not just a case of dusting and washing. It is a science that takes dedication, patience and a great deal of care. The phrase ‘maintaining and restoration’ would be more appropriate.
I am writing this post somewhat retrospectively and I can’t remember exactly what drew me after lunch to sit and sketch the famous Roman Cat statue in the Long Gallery in the castle. I initially found this particular object really rather intriguing. It has quite a history. Will had told us previously of various stories about the history of the cat and the acquisition of the cat to the Powis family. To me it was both an object of beauty and repulsion. Therefor, an object of fascination. I have a cat and I like cats. My house contains lots of cat-inspired objects and images. Perhaps that is partly what drew me to this particular object. This cat is not cute nor cuddly. This cat is edgy and harsh.
Before we returned to Shrewsbury, I also drew the corner of one of the paintings that one of the volunteers I had spoken to earlier chose as her favourite object.
Then it was home time.