Friday, 15 February 2008


As a kid I loved skeletons and skulls. I used to bury the odd dead shrew I would come across, and dig it up a few months later to harvest the bones. My triumphant exitement would usually be met with disgust and a mini lecture on hygiene and germs when I displayed my latest acquirement to my parents. The wonderful memories I have of uncovering my pre-buried treasure has, so far, more than made up for any germs I may have caught. Like all other parts of the body, doesn't the immune system need some sort of stimulation/workout to keep it in good shape?

Anyway, the reason I bring my childhood memories to the table with regards to these sketches, is becouse they were done from photographs taken (not by me) at Choeung Ek, a Buddist memorial site in Cambodia - probably the most well known site of the 'killing fields'.

I pulled some photos from my 'reference' folder on my HD and started to draw some skulls, but knowing where the photos were taken kinda hit me with mixed emotions: On the one hand I have my personal love of bones and their wonderful cracks, texture, colour and childhood delvings. But on the other hand I have the weight of knowledge (however sparse) that comes from the simple act of growing older and interacting/assimilating all that is around you.

I began drawing and very soon started to think about the skull I was creating on paper. What sort of person was he/she? I started imagining lifestyles - the little mundane day-to-day stuff (fluff?) that I really enjoy noticing in other people. I began to feel bad about this and started adding fantastical elements (see horns) to bring me back on top of my feelings. Maybe this was a bad move on my part. Maybe I should have delved deeper.

Am I covering myself from deeper feelings by bringing up my childhood memories first as a safety mechanism? I doubt it, but who knows. Right now I think it was importent to me to make that distinction between some kind of morbidity and a simple visual love of bones. I hope nobody thinks I am, in some way, mocking those that died in that regime by adding fantasy elements to my sketches. That was/is not my intent.

I have to chuckle to myself whenever I think about the merciless way in which we lose our innocence to age and experience. Hahaha... someone or something up there/out there is chuckling along with me.


Xumca said...

I do appreciate when drawings have a story behind them. When I first looked at these, there was of course the little surprise when transitioning from the first (mundane looking pile of skulls) to the second (sudden unexpected protrusions!!) sketch. In a way, that was almost a metaphor for the new, richer meaning that these gained when I knew the mixed thoughts behind them.

Ach, I'm spouting art critic gibberish again! Somebody stop me! ;-)

Munin said...

To me the critique and metaphor stand true. It is only my own protracted 'gibberish' that fouls up what should have been a rather straightforward post. I appreciate your comments, though.

Xumca said...

...and that comment added a new level of meaning for me! Because it got me to thinking: what if Munin had not put all that writing and explanation? I would have looked at the sketches as merely beautiful renderings of skulls, nothing more. It's almost scary to think how shallowly I would have thought of them without the exposition.