Saturday, 12 July 2014

Manchester Urban Sketchers goes to Liverpool for 44th World Wide Sketchcrawl

After a week of work and some procrastination that preceded getting down to actually doing some planning for my badger books, I got so distracted that I nearly forgot that Manchester Urban Sketchers were going to Liverpool this weekend for a bit of sketching. I knew the Mondrian  and His Studios exhibition was still on at The Tate so it got me quite excited about doing some doodling at the docks. The weather up here in the north has been surreal for the past few days, with the usual 'it's hot but pass me the oxygen mask' feeling being completely absent, to everybody's relief. No doubt the rain will start swiftly moving in and soon we will be back in our July scarves and gloves. Nevertheless, this summer has to be enjoyed while it's here, and that's exactly what I did today.
To start off, the docks are a vast collection of sketching subjects and being apprehensive about my fear of contraptions and vessels, I set off with a clear understanding that this would not be a walk in the park. Instead, it would be constantly challenging due to the people constantly passing by, stopping to watch me sketch and oh, the worst, asking me about what I was doing. Don't even get me started with the 'oh, how lovely, my eldest son has just finished his work for one of his art projects in high school, he also loves watercolours but I haven't got the time for that' line because I may start hyperventilating and become aggressive. To my absolute delight, the only substantial disturbance I had to survive today was a group of French students who genuinely liked what they saw in my sketchbook and politely asked to take a photo, asked me the axiome-like 'do you like Paris?' question and swiftly cleared the scene.
Trying to squeeze the Museum of Liverpool, the Liver Building, a dazzle ship and a ton of chains and fencing on a small landscape Moleskine sketchbook was not only ambitious but also dangerous to my tendency to lose control. What really caught my eye in this one however, was the dazzle ship, seen on the right hand side. This one is actually a new addition to Liverpool's docks. The First World War vessel has undergone the stripe treatment not too long ago in an attempt to recreate the concept of the 'dazzle ship'. The idea, born in 1917, was used as a strategy of distraction by the British merchants against German U-boats in WW1 and ultimately, served as a method of causing confusion for the opponent. Some of the original dazzle ship designs are even more incredible than the one at the docks, but all in all, I find this very example quite cute and weird. 
As I said, today,much more than any other time, I felt that I had to be led by colour because as soon as I let go of the Sailor pen, the lines would just build and build, until I would completely overdo the entire scene. Therefore, I lay a few washes of gray, red, yellow, blue and red and let the lines take control afterwards. I must say, this is an approach I take when I get spiral eyes from too much detail and it hasn't let me down yet, nevertheless, today I feel like I could've taken it a bit more lightly.
Strangely, the most enjoyable bit of this sketch was the repetitiveness of the colourful triangles. I know, I'm sad.

As much as it's thought that I spit these drawings out like a laser jet printer, today I moved at  a snail's pace, took 10 minutes to have my nomad-style flask soup on the bench with Lucie, a fellow sketcher, and before I knew it, bang goes 2 pm and we moved over to the Museum of Liverpool. This is were I got completely charmed by my new discovery: LAMBANANAS.

This is a row of Lambananas outside the museum of Liverpool. I just think they look like sheep that have had a sniff of hallucinogenic materials. Photo credit: TripAdvisor.

I found a brief but interesting history of what and where the Lambananas came from here, so I'll spare you the babbling I would otherwise go into trying to explain it myself. The Lambananas are in short, an epic fusion of the present and future, science and art, a banana and a sheep. The last bit is just my two cents...I  obviously had to soon get over my fascination and start sketching but the sheer geometry of this place was quite sharp and cold. I suppose I always prefer places with more variation in perspective and architectural detail so good job the aforementioned sculptures were there to infuse the experience with a bit of fun.
For a building that was finalised in 2011, there is something very 'sixties' about it. LAMBANANA ON THE LEFT!(I'm not shouting)
Time flew once again and by 15:30 we were all back to the Tate to showcase the work we'd all done. An official photo should be up on the Manchester Urban Sketchers page soon, so that will be a testament to the number of people who turned up today and hopefully, had a very good time. I took a couple of pictures of all the work that's been laid out on the floor, but such a general image would not do justice to the quality of work produced today.

To everybody's amusement and my obvious excitement, Mike, a fellow sketcher and must say, most organised art supplies owner I've ever met(his bag is a precisely organised art shop I could never aspire to) pulled out a miniature Lambanana fridge magnet out of his bag. I now own the Lambanana and I shall paint it soon!

Need I explain? I said I'm sad.

Once the day was done, we got some chocolate ice cream to reward ourselves, successfully got in the car and more successfully managed to find the M62 back to Manchester. That's enough to warrant another ice cream. Thank you!

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