Category Archives: art

Cold cold morning

November, and you stand in your mobcap
that hated worn black gown
look up at the big house, lit and warm
your tear-stained face pale as the mist
a mist cold as the employer that has told you to leave
leave the one job that feeds your family
family bereft of a father or sons to work
servant work you despised, literate girl that you are
work you so needed

Beggars can’t be choosers

But once the son of the house chose to court you
and you rebuffed him
your days there were numbered
have been sent home without a reference
on a chill winter morning
so you stand in your mobcap, your servant uniform
look up at the big house, lit and warm
weep for the hungry mouths at home
those so small sisters

Copyright © 2022 Kim Whysall-Hammond

This poem has been written in response to a prompt at Dverse, where we are asked to respond to one of four paintings. I chose John Atkinson Grimshaws painting entitled A November Morning (1883). I looked at the painting (see below), saw the servant girl looking up and her story just came to me.

John Atkinson Grimshaw – Shipley Art Gallery. Title: November Morning, Knostrop Hall, Leeds. Date: 1883. Materials: oil on canvas. Dimensions: 61 x 86.4 cm. Source: https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/november-morning-knostrop-hall-leeds-35520. I have changed the light and contrast of the original photo.

Sketchtember!

A non-poetry post! Some of you may know that I also paint. During the pandemic I took up life drawing via lessons over Zoom. I have a wonderful teacher, Tanja, at Jolly Sketcher.

https://www.thejollysketcher.com/feed

September is promoted as a month to draw each day, via Sketchtember:

http://sketchtember.art/

So Tanja is encouraging her students to do a bit of life drawing each day. Here’s her prompts for the first few days:


….and here are my sketches for the first three days of the month:

My right hand!!

Done from a photo found online


A very fast sketch of my feet, done with a biro on an envelope while waiting for dinner to cook this evening!

Leonid

There
Amsterdam and Leonid turns up at a friends house
with a case of ikons and art
new identity papers
no longer a Russian
but a proud Ukrainian
selling treasure for hard currency
to build a country
 
When
we traipsed with him around dealers and auction houses
awkward in an unfamiliar world
waiting for bona fides to be checked
deals to be made
 
Now
I wonder where you are my friend
cannot understand how it came to this
how dreams shatter
conceptions of nationhood crack
peace shatters into sharp fatal shards

Copyright © 2022 Kim Whysall-Hammond

Thursdays 2pm in Lockdown

I grab my pencils, mostly old and blunt,
scramble for a sharpener, my sketchbook
then connect to Zoom
run hands through unruly hair,
so long now in lockdown,
clean my glasses with my clothes.

The class begins. This week it’s
Maxine from Greece, his lithe body
first reaching and arching upwards
back turned coyly to the camera
we have ten minutes only to capture
the length and proportion of limbs,
that pert bottom,
not that I notice it,
the way every knee has a front, a face
and it must be drawn right.
Use the light and shadows to
give heft and bulk, says our tutor in Germany,
embolden key lines to make your drawing stand out.

The pose changes, now he drapes himself across a chair
one leg stretching out to the lens
and I grimace at the challenge of foreshortening
making his leg look as if it is coming out of my page
I try to see the shapes, the curve of his torso here
a triangle of negative space there
how his knee is on the same level as his nose.

All too soon, Maxime bids his farewells as we clap
then we show our various efforts to each other.
After each class, I am always tired
drained with the effort of trying to
achieve a human body on my grubby page.

Copyright © 2021 Kim Whysall-Hammond