A rogues gallery


In the Police and Justice Museum in Sydney there is an array of mug shots of criminals from the early part of the 20th century. These faces each tell a story, whether it is of violence, or petty crime or a life lived in poverty and desperation. Each is unique and powerful. I have used some of those faces as a loose reference for these drawings, trying to get a little insight into the characters behind the faces, choosing men in hats as being typical of their era.

The drawings are in graphite on cigarette papers cut in half, so are very small, about 3.5 cm square. The cigarette papers seemed like an appropriate surface, as something that would have been very familiar to these men. It wasn’t easy to work on, very flimsy, so the drawings are a little scratchy. I have kept the glued edge on the left hand side of each drawing, and will probably make use of it when putting them together to make a book or album of some kind, I haven’t quite decided yet what it will look like, but with another miniature exhibition coming up in August I will need to make some decisions fairly quickly. I will do another post when the final is created! Below are the individual drawings.

Author: anna warren portfolio

I draw, I paint, I am a printmaker. Always searching for the interesting detail in the world around me.

31 thoughts

  1. What an intriguing project! And the drawings are so neat! Each man looks like a different character altogether.


  2. A fascinating project. Somehow the hats make the man; unlike baseball caps of today!. A little book sounds a great idea – look forward to seeing what you decide to do.


    1. Thank you! I’m in Sydney, and that is where the exhibition will be – are you in Melbourne? I can email you the invitation anyway, in case you get a chance to see the exhibition. It should be good, very high class work submitted from all around Australia.


  3. Hats were certainly a prominent part of life in those days. A hat maketh a man. I think of D.H. Lawrence when I look at these guys. Must be a similar era. Also they look a little ghostly – perhaps the fragility of the paper helps this effect – like apparitions which would blow away with the smallest of breezes. They look contemplative don’t they, as if they are wondering about you drawing them. Who’d have thought!?


  4. They are a little ghostly, can be seen from both sides of the paper and I want to make use of this when I make them into a book. The expressions on the faces was something that drew me to them, some resigned, some defiant, some just lost and sad. A story behind every one.


  5. These look fabulous Anna, I hope everyone realises how difficult it is to draw hats on people. The slightest variation in scale and they either looked like they are perched on the head or drowning the wearer. You have yours looking dapper and cool, getting that right rackish angle. How you do it so small amazes me. Karen


    1. Thanks Karen! You know, I hadn’t thought about the difficulty of getting the hats right, but I can see exactly what you mean! I think I was drawing them almost as part of the face, rather than as a separate object, so they naturally worked with the faces. I do like doing very small!

      Liked by 1 person

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