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Posts Tagged ‘Peter Connolly’

Late Bronze Age Achaean Warrior, for DIG magazine issue 1710.

It’s not all comics, you know! I’m still providing illustrations for Cricket Media’s archaeology magazine, DIG. Every issue they have a “Let’s Go Digging” section, all about current archaeological projects. The splash page for the section is a big illustration based on the articles that follow. It’s often about sites and periods I know nothing about, which is both interesting and something of a challenge. But every so often the artwork is for a period or a site which I know well.

This month’s illustration was about the Trojan War – specifically, how interpretations and reconstructions of it have changed through time. The brief from the art director was to come up with an illustration that reflected this. So I decided I would use this as an opportunity to paint something I’ve wanted to for a long, long time: an Achaean warrior from the period of the Trojan Wars, as reconstructed by Peter Connolly. Like most other historical and archaeological illustrators, I’ve always been a huge fan of Connolly’s meticulous – but still highly imaginative – approach to evidence and data. He work manages to both convince and surprise in equal measure. He was a master of taking what survived and extrapolating a solid, practical but still inventive past from it. You can see his interpretations and conclusions echoed in so many current works (Osprey’s Roman series being an obvious example). Part of the reason for that was his hands-on approach to the evidence: “reconstructing” for him meant creating a physical replica, not just painting an image of one. And even when he did “just paint”, he took the same approach – his buildings always looked not just like places you could walk around in, but places that people had made: solid things of earth and stone, weight and presence; his armour always looked like something you would actually wear: sturdy, dependable, with lots of practical details like leather edging to stop wear. It’s no wonder that his work is often visible in the arms and equipment of re-enactors – Connolly’s illustrations always have the look of being drawn from “real life”, even if that was thousands of years ago.

So my illustration here is a homage to his work. I’ve tried to make this Achaean warrior’s armour and equipage look solid, practical, dependable – plausible, and, hopefully, real.

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LGD Sept Oct 2015One of the best things about doing illustrations for Cricket Media’s DIG magazine is the breadth of subject-matter I get to draw.

Over the next year I’m drawing splash-pages for each issue’s Let’s Go Digging! section. The subject of their Sept-Oct issue is excavations at the ancient city of Buthrotum, modern Butrint, in Albania – and the archaeological evidence there (or not there) for the wanderings of Aeneas, the legendary Trojan war-exile and founder of Rome.

It’s been a chance for me to revisit on paper Mediterranean bronze-age: a time-period I haven’t worked on since my time at University (virtually back in the Bronze Age itself, now). But a chance to explore my own take on the white walls of Troy, the Trojan Horse, and even the legendary Aeneas himself. A bit of Peter Connolly-inspired Mycenean architecture there, a dash of Eric Shanower-inspired Hittite arms and armour here… Great fun. Surely this is what being an archaeological illustrator is all about. O Muse! –

Arms, and the man I sing, who, forc’d by fate,
And haughty Juno’s unrelenting hate,
Expell’d and exil’d, left the Trojan shore.
Long labors, both by sea and land, he bore,
And in the doubtful war, before he won
The Latian realm, and built the destin’d town;
His banish’d gods restor’d to rites divine,
And settled sure succession in his line,
From whence the race of Alban fathers come,
And the long glories of majestic Rome.

                                                      Virgil (Trans. Dryden)

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