REBECCA JEWELL & SANDY ROSS SYKES
TALK - Drawing Inspiration from Natural History
Tuesday, 2 November, 6.30-8pm
WORKSHOP - Creating a Nature Tableau
Wednesday, 17 November, 10am-4pm (1 hour lunchbreak)
Rebecca and Sandy will give an illustrated talk, in turn describing their own development and use of drawing in their art practice. Whilst at the RCA Rebecca made detailed drawings of feather artefacts and bird specimens, but in recent years she has perfected a technique for printing images onto feathers and these she makes into artefacts – headdresses, capes and mixed-media installations. Jewell’s most recent work aims to highlight the problem of illegal hunting of millions of birds in the Mediterranean, and the threat of extinction to many bird species due to climate change and the depletion of habitats.
Sandy started her art career as a sculptor and believes that the making of wire armatures proved to be fundamental to the development of her drawing skills. As an artist she looks for the underlying structure or drawing on which a Work of Art 'hangs’. Sandy will show examples of her work which demonstrate how drawing is central to its formation.
Both artists will also discuss their involvement with conservation which links directly to the Creating a Nature Tableau workshop they will be holding on Wednesday 17th November.
This one-day class will help participants build confidence in drawing and sketching a small collection of nature specimens. Considering light, shadows, form and colour, we will use different materials to develop techniques for drawing, including pencil, inks and watercolours. The day will start with a presentation about Jan Van Kessel the Elder (1629-1679). The tutors will look at how his work can inspire and help us to record and interpret a collection of specimens. There will be a selection of unique and extraordinary natural history objects for participants to draw, including butterflies, feathers, beetles, bones, shells, seedpods and nature curios.
Sandy and Rebecca believe that having 2 tutors enables students to really benefit from individual attention - their depth of knowledge is an advantage to both beginners and the more experienced alike. Each class is prepared with helpful information that participants may refer to and use as an aide memoire for future work.
Top left - Sandy Ross Sykes, Egg Study Page, 2021
Middle left - Detail from a nature table
Bottom left - Rebecca Jewell, Papua New Guinea Feather Headdress, ink and watercolour drawing
Rebecca Jewell is a printmaker and collage artist. Growing up with zoologist parents, Rebecca accompanied her father on field trips, and visited her mother in the osteology room at the Natural History Museum - both parents instilling a love of nature, wildlife and conservation. A year spent in Papua New Guinea, and many years working with the Oceania collection in the British Museum, have influenced her work – examining the significance and symbolism of birds and feathers in human cultures and beliefs. Rebecca studied for her PhD at the Royal College of Art, in the department of Natural History Illustration, looking at the importance of drawing as a way of understanding artefacts and specimens. It was at the RCA that Rebecca and Sandy met, both taught by the late Professor John Norris Wood, a passionate conservationist and artist who believed in the importance of drawing as a foundation to art practice. Jewell has exhibited widely both in the UK and internationally.
Jewell is a faculty member at the Royal Drawing School, and co-founder with Sandy Ross Sykes of Drawn from Nature running art classes in natural history drawing. She has a unique collection of exotic feathers and unusual natural history specimens which she uses as source material in her classes.
Sandy Ross Sykes
trained as a fine artist and sculptor after leaving school. She has worked as a practicing artist ever since. During the middle of her career, she became interested in the complex techniques used in both botanical and natural history illustration. After graduating from the Royal College of Art and winning the RCA prize, she spent the next decade in the rainforests of South East Asia painting and therefore recording for future generations species of plants found growing in those now depleted regions. Her work has been widely exhibited, including at Kew Gardens and Singapore Botanic Gardens. Examples of her work are to be found in many museum collections throughout the world.
On returning to the UK, Sandy Ross Sykes collaborated with her friend and colleague Rebecca Jewell. They formed the specialist and highly sought-after teaching practice Drawn from Nature. During the past few years of tutoring, they have perfected a comprehensive method of teaching students of all levels.