Wednesday, February 11, 2015

'It's your turn now.' Dippy and the Blue Whale

'It's your turn now.'
Ink on watercolour paper, 202 x 100mm.


Scarcely had I mentioned how well Sophie the Stegosaurus complemented the presence of the beloved Diplodocus at their respective entrances to London's Natural History Museum than news of the latter's planned retirement emerged, apparently splitting the public and experts alike into 'Team Dippy' and 'Team Whale' across social media.

Of course I'm sad -- very sad -- to see 'Dippy' retire (no, I don't much care for the name either, but that's another story).  For me as for so many others, it has been the museum's de facto mascot and symbol for as long as we can remember. And lest our readers forget, sauropods are among my favourite dinosaur groups. My own 'saurian portrait' is a Diplodocus, for heaven's sake.

 'However, change, or its refusal, is not within our gift.' I welcome the blue whale with happy, if subdued, acceptance. Of the many voices in its favour, Michael Rundle of Huffington Post UK encapsulates it best for me, not least because he puts forward the case with great respect and affection for both without any of the unnecessary aggression and derision I've seen accompany some arguments ('Dippy is fake! A lie!'). My illustration above attempts to reconcile this change in the same vein. The title of 'It's your turn now' speaks both of the whale skeleton's place in Dippy's stead and of the blue whale's fragile existence being celebrated now. I wanted to avoid that dreaded word, 'relevance', much bandied about in this case. Nevertheless, highlighting the blue whale's significance doesn't seem to me to signal a disregard for the Diplodocus. But perhaps I'm not cynical enough on that score.




N.B. This post was prepared ahead of Mike Taylor's post over on SV-POW on the same subject, in which he actually advocates having both skeletons together, a suggestion that I could only be too happy with, were such a thing possible.

13 comments:

  1. Why can't they BOTH be in the hall, would make a superb comparison....J

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  2. Ah, sorry, Mike Taylor's similar comment came up in minute type, so missed it....J

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    1. I would love that of all things, too. It would make for quite a breathtaking sight, perhaps at least approaching that of Berlin's MfN, if never quite equaling it. ;) I don't know what it would mean in terms of costs, logistics and other considerations for the NHM, and with that in mind, I would still be happy with just the blue whale alone.

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  3. Just lovely, Niroot. The clouds are wonderfully billowy. The woodcut style certainly evokes a feel for the history surrounding the NHM.

    Good choice of object to indicate scale. When correctly oriented (90° anti-clockwise) it depicts a synapsid surmounting a small non-avian archosaur holding a feather in its mouth. Yes, that is what it is.

    It's a perfect visual metaphor for what is about to occur in Dippy Hall which is simply a continuation of a 300 million year struggle between the two major branches of the amniotes. Remember, every time you eat chicken that's another goal to us.

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    1. Thank you, Mark.

      It took me a moment to realise you meant the penny, whilst I tilted my head round trying to see my illustration in the way you describe...

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  5. I don't get jealous over many things, Niroot, but I'd drill into your brain to nick half the talent out of it.

    (Though I might have drawn Dip savaging the whale. Rage, rage against the dying of the light! etc. :P )

    Mark: the way too many people and businesses keep their chickens, you'd think there was some kind of blood feud. But that's a rant for another website, maybe.

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    1. Thank you so much, Warren. Trust me, if you did drill into my head, you won't find much beyond a jumble of thorns and some sodden rags.

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    2. :) Seriously though, I appreciate great ink work, with pen or brush, especially because I have trouble getting to grips myself. And this definitely counts as great.

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    3. One infrequent trip to the art shop later, I'm kicking myself and thinking 'I shoulda asked what Niroot used there.' Not that it'd turn me pro or anything, but... Fine-tipped dip pens, obviously. Mapping nibs?

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    4. Mapping nibs will be just fine. :) Though I used a Brause 511 in this case. Hunt 100 is similar though a tad less flexible. Sorry for the UK links, they were just handier for me to find! I should also point out that I actually habitually draw with very fine brushes (which I also used here for the clouds) and this was one of my forays into nibs again to avoid going out of practice altogether.

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  6. Would you consider selling prints? I need this.

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    1. Thank you, Neil! I can upload it to my Redbubble store and let you know, will that be alright? Sorry for the late reply.

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