Ok, the time has come to show you one of the projects I started while stuck at home to get through the mind-crushing dystopia of the pandemic. And everything else; seriously 2020 give us a break. Since there is no traveling for us for the foreseeable future (“foreseeable future”, hah, like that is a thing) and certainly no going back home to Britain, I decided at the start of April that it would be a good idea to explore my home island virtually, and with a sketchbook, via the magic of the internet, or more specifically Google Street View. My rule was that I had to fill a single Stillman and Birn Delta Series sketchbook (that I have had sitting in the cupboard for several years, waiting for a time such as this to create a single-themed book with) with sketches from around Britian, but travelling as if on a linear journey, not back and forth but from place to place, starting in Burnt Oak (the corner of London I am from) and finishing in, why not, John O’Groats. The sketches had to be from Google Street View only, not other sources, so that there would be both a reasonable consistency as to the view (height for perspective) and that I would be constrained kinda sorta like I would be in real life: not a great view of the thing I want to draw, well don’t draw it. I would use Street View to explore, going up and down streets all over Britain to find the things I want. I didn’t have a plan when I started as to where I would go or how many sketches I could do, but after the first few pages it became very clear that I needed a plan, and as it turns out there are a lot of places I had to miss out, either through lack of space in the book or just because there was nothing there that made me want to sketch it. I wasn’t just going for the obvious spaces, and perhaps I missed out some great locations, but those are the choices we make when we travel sketch, we aren’t making definitive statements about places, just drawing what speaks to us. Most places aren’t particularly personal to me, but a few places are, places I might have been years ago. Truth is, I haven’t been to most places in Britain – I’ve never once been to Wales, for example, and boy have I missed out – and now I have a real hunger to travel the island in real life. And that was another rule – just the island of Great Britain. Ireland could be another book by itself, and I didn’t have room for the Isle of Man, so I also left out the Isle of Wight, and didn’t go beyond Scotland’s northernmost tip to Orkney or Shetland or the Outer Hebrides, but that would be fun in real life.
So join me in the journey around Great Britain, in 66 sketches – seemed like a good number to stop at, one which rhymes through British history – plus the stories of my epic voyage, which was taken completely at my desk 5000 miles away in California. Or if you prefer to just see all the sketches without the usual ramble and bad puns and “guess-which-bit-is-true” history segments (you would probably have hated my old ope-top bus tour of London years ago), all of the sketches are compiled in one Flickr folder at “Great Britain in 66 Sketches“.
I’ll start posting them in the next post, and you’ll be able to follow them all here at https://petescully.com/tag/GB66