As an urban sketcher I am passionate about drawing and painting on location, capturing the detail of everyday scenes that others might never notice. It is all about the story, and I often write little notes on my sketches about what was happening at the time.
In January 2019 I started a long-term project to draw every building in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy – even the ugly ones. I see it as preserving the history of this inner Melbourne community, sketching in the street & chatting to locals as I do.
Sketching my travels
I am a Melbourne based artist, and proud to be a “woman of a certain age” with grown children, both happily brainwashed into becoming artists themselves.
That job done, I now have the freedom (when Covid allows) to take long holidays to travel with my very patient husband. Oh, the number of hours he has sat down beside me with a coffee or two or three and his kindle to fill in time while I pull out my sketchbook to start drawing the scenery in front of us. Then, just as he thinks it is safe to go, I pull out my watercolour palette, and he has to get another coffee. He describes my urban sketching as “going analogue”. He’s a good man.
Urban sketching in my home town – Melbourne, Australia
One of the best things about going away, of course, is coming home again. And boy, am I lucky to live in Australia. Traveling overseas as a tourist has opened my eyes to the beauty of my own country – this amazing place which has been sitting under my nose the whole time. It is so easy to take things for granted, isn’t it?
I have especially fallen for the quirkiness of Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, home of Melbourne’s number 11 tram, hipsters, Victorian architecture, and no end of amazing cafes. In fact I love the place so much that I started a long term project to draw (and eat) my way up the whole length of the street over what will no doubt be many years.
I call it my “Brunswick Street Sketchography” because I want to include not only sketches and watercolour streetscapes, but research into the local history of the area. That’s where my experience as a research librarian comes in. Or maybe it’s just a general nosiness. Whatever – I am having a ball delving into the old newspapers and vintage photos courtesy of the National Library of Australia. I especially love finding a good scandal 🙂
Using art to promote wellbeing
Speaking of libraries, that’s my other job. I work as a medical research librarian. I love it because it nicely balances the left and right sides of my brain. It’s very satisfying. My week is full of different experiences. With so many things to learn, I can’t imagine ever being bored.
Part of my job is a specialist role in mental health – another area I am passionate about.
I have been a long term advocate for partnership between people with a mental illness, families and practitioners. When I couldn’t find the resources I wanted, I decided to make them. I developed the Caring Together Art Journal Project, a website which grew to include over 120 illustrations, stories, videos and posters aiming to educate mental health services on family friendly practice and to help carers feel less alone. I feel very proud of what I achieved and learnt in the process. I was invited to present my work at conferences in Australia and overseas, and also to run workshops and exhibit. I was even given a trip to Paris to present at a conference (which started my travel sketching habit). Not bad for one individual who just couldn’t find what they wanted.
That led to nearly five years in creative development and research roles for a self efficacy and wellbeing program. It fitted perfectly with my passions and experience.
All while still working as a librarian, of course.
And now? Well I’m just taking time to enjoy the moment. And recording it in my sketchbooks. I am so lucky.
You might spot me out with my sketchbook in your area one day. You’ll know who I am. I’ll be the one in the rainbow shoes.