Wednesday, 3 February 2010

dust cloud Cotopaxi 2007

This is a drawing of Cotopaxi, during an eruption of dust, taken from an engraving of that occurrence made by Mr Whymper, and originally published in "Travels in the Great Andes of the Equator".
The engraving is beautiful, minimal and entirely expressive of a peculiar phenomenon observed by Mr Whymper whilst he was some sixty miles away, ascending Chimborazo in the 1800's. In the brightness of early morning Cotopaxi emitted a "column of inky blackness", which issued forth with such "prodigious velocity that in less than a minute it had arisen 20,000 feet above the rim of the crater" ( this quoted in "The Story of Our Planet", from Mr Whymper's own book). The column then seemed to be influenced by an easterly air current, and was "rapidly borne towards the Pacific; remaining intensely black, seeming to spread very slightly", before being taken by a Northerly air current which caused it to drift towards Chimborazo, by which time it had spread to fall on Chimborazo's snows. Apparently, the dust cloud had travelled for about seven and a half hours before its descent.
The engraving from which I made this drawing is sparse, elegant, and visually compelling. I made a stencil of the shape of the mountain cone, and the issuing dust cloud, applying graphite powder and crumbled pastel within the stencil, and rubbing it towards the edges. I have exaggerated the shape of the cone, and shortened the stream of air borne dust, and made the whole very black.
The image is isolated within an expanse of white paper, devoid of any connection, or context. It was made in 2007.

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