Lecture 2: Our History! Exploring the Tradition of Urban Sketching Through Vintage Books That Popularised Sketching

Lecture Presenter: Ed Harker

Description of Lecture

Urban-sketchers are a worldwide family, with a long and rich history and shared roots going back centuries! I will explore the UK branch of this family tree, looking at attempts to popularise outdoor sketching in the last century. I will present books that tried to promote it beyond professional artistic and architectural communities, books that echo many themes from the modern success of USk, and the huge popularity of books on sketching today.



I will give urban-sketching a brief historical and global context (drawing manuals from C9th China, Renaissance Italy, and C19th Japan) and look in detail at five English books on sketching outdoors from 1919, 1947, 1954, 1966, and 1986, covering a range of styles and approaches. Each has its own ‘flavour’ and voice, but all share an enthusiasm for getting people sketching outdoors and in the city.



What can we learn from these earlier urban-sketchers? How did they popularise sketching in the wider public? What makes the current USk movement different from previous ones? How do these books compare to the huge variety of books on sketching available today, and why do we still value sketching books given the huge amount of information and advice available for free on the internet? I will be suggesting that the best books offer inspiration, or practical advice, or hopefully both!


I will be inviting the audience to share their favourite books, and try to create a shared understanding of what they value in a book about sketching. We will share the resulting long-list of recommended books with the wider Symposium, and invite further suggestions…



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