Wednesday, 11 January 2012
An Afternoon Drawing in the Market
I just love drawing markets and what better place than India? It's such a great excuse to get in amongst local people, doing their everyday jobs, and as soon as you draw, they welcome you into their lives just a little, and that makes it so much more rewarding and memorable.
These sketches were done on my very last afternoon in Kerala, in a small town called Angamaly, near Cochin. I started with the veg stall: stuffed with sacks and crates of veg in all shapes, sizes and colours, many of which I'd never seen before.
This is Ajilal, who was the man taking the orders and the money for the veg. His fellow workers nominated him to be drawn and then ribbed him shamelessly throughout. When I was done, John and I were fed as many finger-bananas (literally finger-size) as we could eat, while someone nipped my sketchbook to the photocopy shop.
I was then dragged into the garden of a man who happened to live next door. He showed me his caged bunnies, guinea pigs and budgies and offered them for me to draw. It felt bizarre, and was not quite what I'd had in mind, but I gave it a go while his wife, Rosie, stood and watched. He bought me a bottle of mango juice to cool me off, which was very welcome by then.
This man was deep-frying food round the corner, in a massive wok. It was a fiercely hot and horribly humid day and the extra heat was making me run with sweat, though I was standing several feet away - how he kept smiling I'll never know.
Time was getting on and the afternoon's fish catches arrived, so I moved to the next street, where fishermen crouched on the pavement with small tarps at their feet, where their fish was laid out. I started with the man below and began to draw quite an audience.
The fisherman was disappointed I didn't get his head in (though pleased enough to take a photo on his mobile phone). So the man sitting opposite him insisted I did him next and that I made sure his face was showing.
By then I had quite a crowd (John counted 25), and we were entirely blocking the narrow road. Soon the other fish men were all lining up to be done and I had to plead fatigue to get out of drawing everyone. They took pity on me and one of the men bought us both a cup of sweet tea off the chai man (with an urn on a bike).
A wonderfully memorable, final afternoon, full of laughter and sudden, brief friendships.