#USkManchester2016: Day3 Variety is the spice of Life

[By Liz Ackerley, Symposium Correspondent in Manchester, UK] Today was like yesterday in weather terms (some rain, then some more rain!) but unlike it in that I covered a variety of events, from workshops to activities and sketch crawls and a preview of Urban Sketcher Lynne Chapman’s Exhibition.

My day kicked off by attending part of a session by Ch’ng Kiah Kiern entitled Sketching with dry twig and chinese ink. I was really excited to attend this workshop as a correspondent as it is definitely one I would have selected if I had been a delegate. KK started off by sharing a background to his techniques, talking about the tools (twigs and brushes with ink) and their use as well as sharing some of his fantastic drawings using this approach. He then went on to demonstrate the tools and sharpening the twigs before guiding participants to sharpen their own tools and take some decanted ink (gauze for the wet approach and a sponge for the dry approach).

We then gathered our materials and went outside where we found a sheltered spot with views towards Oxford Road. KK demonstrated the use of the tools and allowed participants time to practice them before going on to show us the development of one of his drawings. Participants were then allowed to develop a drawing of their own using these techniques.

Next up I went along Oxford Road to join the Whitworth Sketch crawl (The Whitworth Art Gallery) which seemed to encourage the rain! Approaching the gallery, I spotted a group of sketchers so sat on the low wall to capture the scene, but then the rains came! You can see how the colour has been effected by the rain. One of the most amazing aspects of this Gallery is its connection with the surrounding landscape and park.  The cafe is literally sitting amongst the trees.  In some of the sketches below, you can see how the sketchers are sitting looking out of huge windows to the surrounding park.  Most of the sketchers who were outside did move into the galleries. Inside the gallery, sketchers were dotted around the place. At the end of the morning a video and camera were used to capture everyone’s artwork and not forgetting Hakym’s selfie stick! A good turnout for this one, despite the rain.

After lunch things became less hectic with the workshops finished for the day. I took the opportunity to attend ‘The Big crit’. `This is where you can get some great tips from the experts on how to improve upon your drawings. These are just snapshots from my very very fast sketching! From the body language I observed and the snippets of conversations, this was a very useful exercise for sketchers.  I hope you can recognise some of the workshop leaders here!

The final activity I attended is our very own Hakym Ahmed (who recently graduated from MMU) leading an activity in the School of Art called SketchMob: Togetherness in Sketching. Hakym’s assertion is that urban sketching is more than just an artistic endeavour but also a form of social connection and knowledge exchange. The activity involves a series of activities including drawing each others faces; drawing Hakym’s face and storytelling through drawing. Sketches are shared and sketchers engage with each other and learn from each other, trying different styles and techniques as well as getting feedback from the public (if it were to take place outside in a public setting). The highlight of the exhibition is the share the works (shown here as strings and clips, laundry-style). This was then followed by a photo session to promote it on line through a series of hashtags#

My last event of the day was attending the Preview of Lynne Chapman‘s amazing exhibition: Unfolding Stories: Sketching the Everyday at the Z-Arts Centre. This was a stunning display of Lynne’s year-long residency at the Morgan Centre for Research into Everyday Lives in Manchester where Lynne has been capturing, through drawing, the research and study that the Centre undertake which is an exploration of the everyday and the mundane, aspects of life that can often go unnoticed. All of Lynne’s work is displayed in (and was produced in) her own concertina sketchbooks and the results are both fascinating and beautiful and through her work she has enabled the researchers to see, through her eyes, what they do! From research into menthol production to dementia and its impacts to the things that we hoard and keep in our homes, this is a fascinating insight into the work of the Morgan Centre and a really exciting way that drawing and sketching can work hand-in-hand with research and science. Congratulations Lynne!  The room was full with urban sketchers and I tried to capture some of this business in my final sketch of the day.

There is now one more day of the Urban Sketchers Symposium here in Manchester and I look forward to sharing my experiences of that in one last post this weekend. Stay tuned!


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