Sydney Sketching – QVB 2

February 13, 2011


8×10″, 3B graphite pencil, Lamy Safari fountain pen with XF nib, watercolour pencils.

I’ve been travelling the world virtually, using Google Maps street-view. I’ve been to new places, like Romania, but also old ones, riding wild waves of nostalgia, struck by how much places have changed over time and struck too by how crisp memories of some places remain: the streets of Clermont-Ferrand from Lycee Blaise Pascal to Chamalieres, a trip I did four times a day very often because everyone went home for lunch back then; the streets of Arishiyama West Kyoto in and around the river and the railway station but with the famed bamboo forest inaccessible and an old building now demolished opposite a hotel just south of Kyoto Grand Central (where I’d regularly pick up a too-hot coffee from a vending machine) and the spotless street outside Shoren-in temple near Maruyama Park; the pellucid light of Playa del Ingles of Gran Canaria.

 The vantage point of a double-decker bus offered by Google is disorienting when one is used to seeing everything from the footpath and there is the parallax error one automatically overcomes in dealing with tall buildings. I had fun deducing the fact that the Google camera in Kyoto was doing the rounds, judging from the numbers of people on the street, and their age, and the colour of the turning leaves of the momiji, to be around 8.20am in the morning, probably a Sunday morning, in the last week of November or the first week of December.

In the comfort of my own home, I revisited the QVB this morning from outside the Town Hall. Borromini Bear sketched this scene too this weekend, but on-site. Obviously my on-site sketch of the other end of the building last week helped with a quick evaluation of the building’s structure. More problematic is the fact that the facade is almost entirely in shade because it faces south.  I worked a lot more quickly than usual because the facade was in deep shadow and the details blurred on screen. I look forward to re-sketching this on location, but distancing myself from the crowds just a tad will be interesting. This interaction between the virtual and the real in terms of sketching the built environment is curious! The facade of the renowned Romanesque church, the Piave, in Arezzo, is virtually impossible to grasp via Google because the church is so tightly hemmed in by other buildings. The detail in recording the architecture of Firenze on Google is also fascinating, while much smaller towns such as Camerino in Le Marche are represented solely by two or three photos taken at a great distance.


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