Playing in the Gallery: A Weekend of Drawing & Music

I was thrilled when earlier in the year I was asked by the Royal Academy to teach a course on drawing musicians in it’s beautiful historic life room. Drawing and painting musicians in rehearsal has been a subject which has long continued to fascinate me and as both a painter and a player this was a unique and exciting opportunity to bring both elements together within such a stunning space.

The artists participating on the course which took place in early December, worked from the moving figure, observing and analysing the shapes and relationships between musicians and their instruments in both drawing and painting. Working from different instrumentalists during the weekend, and using a wide range of art materials, the course aimed to introduce and explore drawing techniques used to represent movement. Whilst the constantly moving figure is incredibly challenging to draw, particular movements, angles and the negative shapes created are continually repeated.

The musicians taking part on the course came from a number of orchestras and ensembles country-wide, including the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and several London based chamber and orchestral ensembles including Corinthian Chamber Orchestra, Rehearsal Orchestra and Westminster Philharmonic.



Our first soloist Helen rehearsing Mendelssohn while students begin to sketch.


Staging this course within the historic life room of the Royal Academy Schools was the most perfect of settings, full of it’s own atmosphere and drama and feeling as if we were working within a small and intimate theatre.


Adrian was our only wind player during the weekend and the complexity and ellipses of the french horn continued to challenge the artists.


George Stubbs’ horse looks on inquisitively while the skeleton looks rather more indignant as his usual peace is disturbed!


Michele and Philip joined us late afternoon. Our ‘cellists were positioned so that all viewpoints could be examined, while enabling the students to begin to explore the relationships between two players.



A little unaccompanied Bach to begin the day on Sunday with Katherine playing the ‘cello suites arranged for viola.


Throughout the morning Katherine played viola repertoire old and new, from and inspired by the North Atlantic, including her own compositions. She has written about her recent work and travels on Nordic Viola.


On Sunday afternoon Angie joined Katherine and students began to examine once again the relationship between two musicians working together, but this time drawing with brush and paint or pastel.

On the evening before the course at the RA, Katherine and Angie along with composer and pianist Lillie Harris gave a wonderful recital at St Katharine’s Church, Merstham of music from her Nordic Viola repertoire, and it was lovely to hear it again in the rather more surreal setting of the life room among the anatomy casts.


During the last part of the course Philip returned to join Katherine & Angie to create a small ensemble for the students to work from; an unusual combination of viola and two cellos and visually very exciting. Many thanks to Katherine for taking the time to arrange pieces for this grouping of instruments.


A last trio…

A huge thank you to Katherine Wren, Angie Turner, Philip Austin, Helen Saunders, Adrian Wheeler & Michele Madden for all your beautiful playing throughout the weekend & for all your support in making this such a special course and to the Royal Academy for providing such a wonderful opportunity.


This entry was posted in Drawing, London, Musicians, Painting, Royal Academy, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Playing in the Gallery: A Weekend of Drawing & Music

  1. Maxine Mathews says:

    Very interesting – who posed the skeleton?

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