Fitzroy Library Exhibition November 2020 to January 2021: Brunswick Street Fitzroy sketches and urban history

by | Nov 9, 2020 | All posts, Drawing Brunswick Street

Where:  Fitzroy Library, 128 Moor Street, Fitzroy (please check the library website for current opening hours and covid-safe access)
When:  Friday 13 November 2020 to Sunday 31 January 2021

Brunswick Street Fitzroy: sketches and urban history is an exhibition of sketches, illustrations, vintage photographs and clippings from old newspapers that share my long term passion for the architecture, history and community of Brunswick Street, Fitzroy. All of my artwork was drawn on location over the last couple of years, with watercolour added to the longer streetscapes in my studio.

Many thanks to the City of Yarra and Yarra Libraries for hosting this exhibition, and to the multitude of urban sketchers who kept me company on many a chilly morning.

I would also like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land, the Wurundjeri people, and to pay my respects to their ancestors and elders both past and present.

My work is shown in 12 display cases at the Library, and clicking on the links below will take you to more information about each one – especially the history. Please be aware that some vintage photos show people who are long deceased and that this may distress some people.

I hope you enjoy my exhibition and learn something new about this iconic Melbourne street. Please sign my virtual guestbook by leaving a comment – I would especially love to hear your stories about the places I have drawn 🙂

Explore the display cases

Click on the circles below to explore each of the displays. They include pictures of the artwork, the story behind them, and often historical or process photos.

1. It began with the Belvidere Hotel and the 8 hour day

2. Victorian terraces and a change of seasons

3. A sketching milestone – crossing Gertrude Street

4. Not for profits and a 1910 explosion

5. Victorian grandeur gives way to tough times for Fitzroy

6. Sketchers and cafes – the perfect combination

7. Vegan toasties and urban sketchers at the Black Cat

8. Rooftop bars and bendy buildings at Johnston Street

9. Eating and sketching our way to Fitz and Roy

10. Hello pandemic! Heading north between lockdowns

11. Masks, 1.5m, 2 hours outside and a 5 km limit – sketching incognito

12. Signs of the times – cancellations, click and collect, black lives matter



  1. Dear Helen,
    Your sketching and how you have managed to capture the true essence of Fitzroy is absolutely amazing. I’m away from Fitzroy at the moment due to the pandemic and seeing it represented so perfectly and making it feel like I was back again made me teary and realise how much I miss it. Thank you for sharing your beautiful art and love of such a vibrant area – I can’t wait to be back now. You are extremely talented and should be so proud of how detailed and perfect your sketches are!

    • Thank you so much, T!
      I’m really touched that my sketches have made you feel like you were back in Fitzroy again – it is indeed a perfectly imperfect place and it never fails to offer something new to draw. I hope that 2021 sees you back here again!

  2. Dear Helen

    I loved your exhibition. T is completely write about how talented you are. I live around the corner from the library and am so glad I saw your works.

    Your works, including your notes, on the pieces from last year made me quite emotional. A friend said we’d been through a trauma. I hadn’t thought about it like that, but he’s right.

    Thank you also for sharing so much on your website. I’ve sent a link to this page to many friends, including some overseas (one of them visited me here in Fitzroy just over a year ago and said he’d live in Fitzroy if he lived in Oz).

    Thanks again.

    • Thank you! I’m so glad my artwork spoke to you, especially as you are the most local of locals! Yes the lockdown was tough, and more so for some than others. However we are in an enviable position now, so I am hopeful that 2021 will be better. Fingers crossed. I like to record the story with my drawings because it is so easy to forget what it felt like at the time. It makes me emotional to read them later on too, so you are not alone there. Thanks again, Helen


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