Watching the Watchers: “Life” Drawing in Pakistan

Guest Post by David F. Steeden, on the road to Multan, Pakistan

Over the last thirty-five years I have worked as an industrial machinery and equipment valuer. My work has taken me all over the world, working in a multitude of industries – more recently in the engineering, power, petrochemical and recycling sectors. From the deepest mine in Europe to the dizzy heights of Mauna Kea in Hawaii, I have worked in over 45 countries worldwide.

Fertiliser Plant, Pakistan

On a recent business trip to Pakistan, I had to travel north by car from Mukhtar Garh to Multan, a journey of about five hours. On the first leg of the trip, I found myself sitting in the back of the car with armed escorts both in front of and behind the car I was travelling in, and another armed guy in my vehicle. Whilst my escorts on that first part of my journey, through very rural areas, comprised six paramilitary rangers in the vehicles in front and behind, they were gradually replaced by local police as we travelled north.

During the journey, the escorts changed three times. Although not the smoothest of rides, I decided to pass the time by recording the journey in three sketches, showing each of the  armed escorts.

I found that as long as you held your sketchbook fairly firmly, and rested your drawing hand on it firmly, it was possible to draw, albeit slowly and with a squiggly line. There was of course the odd stray mark as we encountered rough roads, but overall I was happy with the degree of accuracy I achieved.

The armed guards proved to be very good models in that they sat very still and hardly moved during the trip. When our client realised what I was doing he found it of considerable interest, having never seen anyone sketching before.

Nitric Acid Plant, Pakistan

Although I have travelled by road in Pakistan on several occasions, it was the inspiration provided by Urban Sketchers that prompted me to try it out on this latest trip. It will always be a reminder to me of that journey.

More of my work can be seen on blogspot, on Flickr or on Facebook.


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