20th May 2005 at 01:00

Statuary and monuments in a graveyard are an excellent source for observational drawing as long as the activity is treated with appropriate respect. Victorian cemeteries are particularly rich in ostentatious first-hand source material, particularly if the subject matter has been overwhelmed by evergreen undergrowth, so encourage students to focus on statues that have been subject to disintegration and decay. They can develop their visual record in a variety of different ways. The benign angels found guarding tombs could be contrasted with angels of death and destiny, such as those found in the paintings of Odilon Redon ("Angel of Destiny") or Carlos Schwabe ("The Death of the Gravedigger"). Pupils can be challenged to produce a surreal picture of a funeral procession where the angels are hovering to take possession of the departed. (For a stylised way of presenting a funeral procession see "funerary procession" on the wall of the tomb of the ancient Egyptian vizier, Ramose, at Thebes.) Remember that this theme must be treated with sensitivity to avoid upsetting those pupils who may have recent personal experiences of bereavement.

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