Yesterday, on a beautiful autumn morning, that felt like summer, I went on a two hour walking tour of Art Deco East Melbourne . With hat, sunburn cream, sunglasses, waterbottle and walking shoes about 9 nine of us met to be guided through the suburb of East Melbourne by the friendly and knowledgeable Mark & Shelley from Melbourne Architours. Of course, I also took my Moleskine watercolour sketchbook, Lamy Safari ink pen and watercolour pencils (in their pencil wrap). I was not sure of the opportunities that I would get to sketch, but came prepared!
We were given a wonderful map of the Art Deco houses that they would be guiding us to. I decided to draw on the map instead of in my sketchbook. At this stage i was still not sure what opportunities I would have to sketch. At our first stop, away from the traffic, our guides provided a history of Melbourne architecture and explained what Art Deco is. It appeared that we were going to be there for while, so I stood at the back of the group and sketched most of them.
As we started walking I realised that I was not going to be able to sketch on the tour. I wanted to listen, learn and ask questions. I then had the idea that I would retrace out steps after the tour and sketch. So I enjoyed the tour as we explored the suburb. All done in freehand ink- no pencil – hence the wobbly lines and suspect perspective.
East Melbourne is close to the city and home to some of Melbourne’s earliest houses. It has a variety of architectural styles from Gothic, Victorian, Federation, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, California bungalow through to Moderne (and combinations of many) . It was wonderful to have the social and architectural history explained to us as well as the growth and development of the suburb, We were very fortunate to have two locals, Diane and Ian from East Melbourne Group and East Melbourne Historical Society on the tour, who were able to provide extra insight into local matters and the changes that have been proposed and fought along the way to protect and improve East Melbourne’s heritage and amenity.
I will definitely be taking another tour with Melbourne Architours and also will be looking closer at the buildings I walk past everyday. The East Melbourne Historical Society has published some very informative books about the suburb. Perhaps I need to carry the publications around with me everyday (along side of my pencils and sketchbook) to refer to as I walk to work. There is so much history that I walk past everyday in Melbourne without appreciating its significance.