Drowning in Berlin
… and a frosty welcome from Angela.
I’ve just had a brief trip to Berlin. This, because Berlin is on my list of cities to go and experience and, accordingly, to draw. I hadn’t been there before, but obviously am aware of the weight of history evident there and the metamorphosis – both aesthetic and social – it has undergone reflecting its past. This was the interesting point for me, the now. Others, more skilled, eloquent and knowledgeable than I, can document what’s happened before. It was still interesting to see some of the iconic sights, but my interest in artistic captures would be more concerned with the current residents, going about their daily lives, with humdrum, everyday struggles and challenges, rather than documenting the enormous, titanic conflicts of before. Or so I thought…
Anyway, the plane landed – what a small airport! – into a cab, then, 25 minutes later I’m checking in to my hotel. A quick glance at the minibar price list sends me out onto the main road – Friedrichstrasse – to a shop that sells Lay’s crisps and therefore saves me €9. I’m striding back when a door – to a restaurant or maybe a conference centre – opens to my left and a swarm of blokes in black suits come out and form a sparse barrier on the pavement. Predictably, I walk straight through, thinking ‘if they want me to stop, they can ask me – and they’d better say say please’ – and I look up, straight into the eyes of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who seems somewhat surprised I’m in her path and also slightly annoyed that my presence means she has to wait for a millisecond before continuing her journey to the waiting car. This makes me laugh – inside at least – for the next few hours…
Over the coming days I venture out and about, visiting many of the city’s iconic sites and structures. Using my trusty Copic Cool Grey markers, I capture the Bode Museum, on an island in the River Spree. Subsequently drawing drops of water and streaks and suchlike (using Montana Paint markers) on top changes this from just another drawing of an old building into something a bit more interesting (for me, anyway). How our view of something is changed by the intervention of nature – there is tremendous scope to continue with this theme. So I will.
Nevertheless, I take numerous pictures and do sketches of the city in preparation for a ‘proper’ cityscape. another one on a bigger canvas… A2 size. This, showing a crossing on Fredrichstrasse (near where Angela and I met) immediately seemed to cry out for a few splashes of Buttercup Yellow, as there was shiny, gold stuff for sale to tourists in the high-end shops there, and also the sky was sometimes tinged with a similar hue, when the showers stopped and the humidity kicked in. The majority of my photos capturing the movement of people bustling around these streets on a Tuesday lunchtime luckily yielded some good, interesting stances, so I was happy when applying the figures.
Although maybe this one does not scream ‘BERLIN’ upon first glance, I’m happy it documents what I found when i was there.