Robert Graves – Sketch (3) 2020

The poet/author Robert Graves has been featured here previously. I wrote about his experiences during the Great War and his inclusion in the memorial to the War Poets in Westminster Abbey. As well as being a fascinating character and a wonderful writer, he also has an excellent face: strong chin, full mouth, penetrating gaze, good bones… and so this week I chose to draw the young poet: Robert Graves.


And the photo I used for reference:


Hertha Ayrton – Sketch (2) 2020

I mentioned when I posted my first sketch, that I’d been inspired by the audio production of the play ‘The Half-life Of Marie Curie’. For my second sketch of the year, I’ve chosen the other character in the play: Hertha Ayrton. While not as well known as her friend, Marie Curie, Hertha Ayrton was a brilliant scientist in her own right. She was a mathematician, physicist and electrical engineer, mind you, in the early 20th century when the field was in its infancy. Because of her study of the characteristics of the electric arc and the resultant improvements in the use of electricity for lighting, she became the first woman to present her own paper before the Institute Of Electrical Engineers. Shortly thereafter, she was invited to become the first female member of the IEE.

Her work with vortices in water inspired the Ayrton Fan –a device which, despite the reluctance of the British War Department to deploy it– was used to dispel poison gas from the trenches in the Western Front during the Great War. Some 100,000 of these fans were used from 1916 over the course of the war.

In September 2019, the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson launched The Hertha Ayrton Fund, which is intended to aid developing countries to reduce emissions and meet global climate change goals by giving them access to the latest technologies. I think Hertha Ayrton would be delighted.

Here is my sketch of Hertha Ayrton and the photo I used for reference:

Courtesy Wikipedia

Marie Curie – Sketch (1) 2020

I recently listened to an audio production of the play: The Half Life of Marie Curie, one of the free listens you get every month with your Audible subscription. [By the way,] Huge fan. I definitely get my money’s worth from my subscription. The play was marvelous and I learned a few things about the famous scientist that I did not know. She had a scandalous affair with another scientist after her husband Pierre died. She carried a vial of radium in her pocket after its discovery and ultimately it led to her death from cancer. In fact, Mme. Curie’s notebooks are so radioactive that at the Bibliotheque Nationale where they reside, they must be stored in lead boxes. To view them, you must wear protective clothing. Besides winning not one but two Nobel Prizes: one in physics, the other in chemistry, she also invented a portable x-ray machine for use by doctors close to the Western Front during World War One. The x-ray machine was fitted into an ambulance and could move with the field hospitals as needed. She also volunteered during the war as an ambulance driver, doing her part for her adopted country, France. Here is my first sketch of 2020:

Madame Marie Curie