Monthly Archives: May 2016

Melbourne Rare Book Week

“Melbourne Rare Book Week – for the love of books” was launched on Monday night. The program of free events has been announced and bookings are open. It is on from 14 -25 July 2016.

I am absolutely thrilled and humbled to be involved with the event in two ways. Melbourne Rare Book Week (MRBW)  is a very prestigious event – attracting a wide range of local, Australian and global visitors.

Firstly, I have an exhibition, “You Can’t Draw in Books?” and an accompanying talk. I have over 40 books that I bought for a dollar or two, or were being discarded. I am illustrating on pages in reaction to the text on the page. One of my thoughts is that this drawing may make the viewer look deeper at the page and the book. And by doing this, giving the book a new life.

Hare Preservation Act

The drawing from my exhibition that was chosen to go in the MRBW promotional brochure (above) for the event  is drawn in a old law book. I have illustrated the Hare Preservation Act 1892 (UK) . Just read deeper and you will find out about regulating the hare breeding season.

The exhibition has an associated talk , with book collector Chris Browne, who will explore aspects of drawing in books, from early manuscript illustrations and the presentation of pictures on the printed page to some examples of formal and informal book illustrations in more modern times.

Here are some of the sketches in books I have already shared online. They are all still “works in progress “as I have a bit more to add to each before July.

Ross's Outlines of English History

Ross’s Outlines of English History

Undomestic Goddess

Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella

All but one of the books are on open pages.

However the London A-Z Street Map is falling apart and is just asking to have many pages drawn on.
30Apr16 london busLondon A-Z

July may seem a long way away, but is rapidly coming closer. My time between now and then will be spent investigating signage, labels… and completing the drawings.

23may2016 MRBW

Secondly, I am involved as an urban sketcher. I was excited to be contacted by Chris Browne last year after Kay Craddock (the organiser of MRBW) had seen some of my sketches from various Melbourne Rare Book Week events last year.
Chris suggested the idea of me visually recording some of the events and activities in 2016 through drawing. I started by sketching the launch (above). Urban sketchers draw what they see, on location, in real time, as it happens, and share their drawings on line. There are 55 events over the week and I will be kept very busy! You will see more about this over coming weeks on my blog, facebook, Instagram and flickr.

And then before it ends, I jump on a plane and fly to Manchester for the Urban Sketchers Symposium !

High Tea at The Gables

A morning of catching up with sketching friends Juliet, Jill, Jeanette and Kate  and celebrating various exciting events in our lives recently.  We decided to book in for a High Tea and found the perfect one at beautiful The Gables, a 1902 Queen Anne style house/function venue in Malvern East, Melbourne.

22May2016 The Gables desserts

Of course, we had to sketch. The sandwiches, quiches, scones , and then desserts were beautiful to draw and eat. … and the champagne and the tea cups….Our time went so quickly.

                      22May2016 The Gables champagne22May2016 The Gables tea





We stayed an extra half an hour outside in the garden. The weather has got a bit cool, otherwise we would have stayed a lot longer. As soon as I saw the photo of the house on the website, I wanted to draw some if it – either the windows, the stained glass, chimneys or some other character feature. I was happiest with this sketch from all my drawings of the day.

22May2016 The Gables


Lost Trades Fair Part 2

Lost Trades Fair PART 2

Last week I wrote Part 1 of my visit to the Lost Trades Fair in March. Here is the next part of my day of sketching at the Lost Trades Fair.

I have been asked about who runs the Lost Trades Fair and here is a little information about Glen & Lisa Rundell. Please see more at their website Rundell & Rundell . There is a wonderful five minute video that gives an insight into the day. It is really interesting and well worth viewing.
Who are Rundell & Rundell ? Lisa & Glen Rundell initiated and founded the Lost Trades Fair and it has grown so quickly with their passion, drive and organisation. LISA RUNDELL runs “The Chairmakers Wife” traditional trading store in Kyneton, with international traditional quality makers and showcasing work by local artisans that are part of the growing ‘Lost Trades’ guild of makers. GLEN RUNDELL is a Chairmaker, designer, woodworker, artisan, instructor and craftsman and holds bespoke workshops.

MY sketching day  …
I wandered down the wide grassed areas , with white tents either side. I would choose a stall that looks interesting to draw, has a place for me to sketch, without blocking other people.

Mar2016 Whisky and Wolf LR
The first stall I stopped at was Whisky & Wolf , where I talked to Leon, the artisan leatherworker. I stood in the stall and sketched. There were the finely handcrafted leather goods in a beautifully displayed area – old fishing gear, a stuffed pheasant, old books and nests. I felt relaxed in these surrounds and started drawing the pheasant. I heard about the hand finishing and stitching of the goods, and how Leon got to be doing what he is today.

There are fascinating stories everywhere at Lost trades Fair.

Mar2016 Pete Von Trott LR
I often observed a stall for a while, firstly for my own appreciation of the skill and knowledge of the person and their trade. Secondly, to see how the person is going to move around while I try to sketch them. Often they are making a specific object by hand in front of a growing audience. They stand alone, the onlookers kept back behind a rope. They explain the process of creating the object as they do it. Sometimes it involves repeating processes and stances .

Pete Von Trott – spoon maker was a great example of this . He worked on the same block of wood, using different tools, to carve it down to a fine wooden spoon. He told us about the timber (sycamore) , wood grain and carving and tools.

Mar2016 Glen Rundell LR
In the stall next to him was Glen Rundell with his wood lathe. Glen is the Chairmaker and features in the video.

Mar2016 Doug Tarrant LR
But sometimes I didn’t discover how much someone moved until the person had changed positions and moved about. For example, Doug Tarrant, the blacksmith only used the fire to periodically heat the rods (I am getting all the technical names wrong here). He would pump with his foot, which would turn the wheel and add air to stoke the glowing coals. The majority of the time was spent with his back to me , talking to the onlookers on the other side of the table.

Mar2016 Duncan McHarg LR

Duncan McHarg is a custom boot and shoemaker. He uses traditional construction techniques, and described them to us: from hand sewing every seam, to measuring and making of the wooden shoes lasts. This fascinating 4 minute BBC video explains a lot
Mar2016 Wood Duck Press LR

Sam Fray demonstrated the centuries-old craft of letterpress printing. Her company Wood Duck Press specialises in letterpress printing vintage, hand-fed, letterpress  She was working on “Daisy” a 240 kg press built in 1905, describing how she found the press in a factory alleyway rusty, neglected and how it came to be the working press in front of us.

It was two months ago that I visited the Lost Trades Fair. Looking back through my sketches and writing this blog has made me realise that I will remember these people and their passion and their skill for a long time.

Lost Trades Fair Part 1

In March this year a friend and I took a one hour train ride from Melbourne to the regional town of Kyneton (population 8000) to go to the Lost Trades Fair. It was first held in 2014 and has rapidly established itself as an event, this year attracting over 15000 people in two days.

What is the Lost Trades Fair?

“The Lost & Rare Trades Fair celebrates the art of skilled manual work and ancient and traditional trades and crafts, their special tools, traditions, languages and secrets which are now threatened by mass produced products in our modern society.  Our aim is to unite people that still have these skills and reignite the significance that these trades and crafts have in todays environment, setting them on a steady path for the future, before they are lost to history.  “

Read so much more about this incredible initiative at the website Rundell and Rundell

There were over eighty amazing, knowledgeable and skilled traditional tradespeople set up in white tents in the grounds surrounding the Kyneton racecourse. These artisans practiced their crafts and explained them to fascinated onlookers. It was very interactive and the people are passionate about their trades and craft. They included an armourer, cooper, fletcher and windsor chairmaker.   The crowds grew during the day, but there was food and entertainment to sustain us.

A few weeks ago I wrote about my lunch sketch.

14mar16 LTF lunch

Last year I eagerly raced around, trying to take it all in, wanting to sketch everything and not miss out on seeing anything. This year I decided to focus on a few craftsmen and artisans, and be prepared not to see everything – quality not quantity. The stalls that I sketched were not chosen for a specific reason, I just happened to be there and there was a good place to sketch nearby. Sometimes the artisans did not know I was sketching them and others I chatted to while I sketched. I sketched 11 stalls. Maybe next year I will go for the two days of the long weekend.

Mar2016 Vintage Caravan LR

A Country Affair – vintage coffee cart

On the day I took a while to ‘warmup’ and feel comfortable in my role as sketcher for the day.An initial wander took us to coffee.  I sat down, trying to decide what to draw and what style to use. So I drew what was in front of me – the coffee caravan, In hindsight, it was far too ambitious. I should have stayed in my comfort zone and drawn my coffee, and then moved on to scenes.

Mar2016 Lost Trades Fair leathergoods LR

I then sketched the leathergoods stall across from me.

I was also choosing which medium to use when – my watercolour pencils and my Lamy ink pen. I also brought along an A4 Moleskine watercolour sketchbook to try and draw larger, as well as my everyday 19×13 cm Moleskine watercolour sketchbook. My aim for the day was to attempt to give character and movement to a scene – capturing the moment. I was not attempting to draw a portrait (although it is always pleasing when the figure vaguely looks like the person) but some of them are such characters that they are unmistakable.

Sometimes I started sketching in pencil and capturing the moment. Once I discovered the person was going to stay still or repeat the moment I added colour and features. Here are the sketches. Note: The combination of light graphite pencil sketches and light watercolour pencil does not scan very well and I am disappointed that they do not look like my originals.

Mar2016 Dean the Cobber LR

Dean the cobber – a really enjoyable time here as I sketched Dean mixing clay with an enthusiastic member of the crowd, who was really enjoying getting stuck into the mud. Her brother and then her family chatted to us . Dean builds a cob oven from clay, sand, straw and water. I was watching on and sketching but so tempted to join in. I could almost feel the mud between my toes. This was in an A4 page.

Mar2016 Spoonsmith LR
I was feeling weary so sat under a tree, but it had to be one with a view to sketch and it was the Spoonsmith.
This was the other sketch I did on an A4 page

Mar2016 Penny Farthing LR
Penny Farthing – attracting attention with the Penny Farthing Bicycles and steampunk gear. Large circles are difficult to sketch sometime so I tried to focus on the costume.
I will continue with Part 2 next week, with some more of my sketches from the day and the stories behind them.

You can see my sketches from last year

Lost Trades Fair 2015 Part 1

Lost Trades Fair 2015 Part 2