Another panorama, this time in the Moleskine. Click on the image for a closer view. This is the Memorial Union (or “Memor al Union” if the sign is correct) at UC Davis. I don’t know if I ever drew this whole view before. Campus is much quieter than it is supposed to be, although there are still people about. Jeez I miss everyone. I wish everyone were on campus. I come in a couple of times a week, to get things done in the office, and I’ll get a sandwich from the Silo Market, showing my Symptom Survey each time, but it’s just so quiet. We will be almost fully remote in Winter as well, and probably Spring. It’s hard, but I can’t imagine how isolating it must be feeling for students. I wish this pandemic were over, but it’s not. I wish this awful president we’ve had for the past four years would be over too, but we have to wait a bit longer, and boy is that going to be a headache. We do what we can to make things feel better. I like to draw. I can’t get to all the places I want to go to right now but I can imagine, and travel-dream. I spent my youth doing just that, drawing loads and dreaming of all the places I would travel to when I was old enough. Looking out of the window a lot. Also obsessing about Tottenham, and football in general. Reading books about languages. Eating noodles on toast. I guess I’m not that different from when I was 14. Except when I was fourteen I probably wasn’t reminiscing about youth, “ah remember when I was five, oh that was great”. Actually I do remember being five, I remember Spurs winning the FA Cup with Ricky Villa’s goal, but that is about it. That may also have been the year I decided to put Weetabix in my big sister’s school blazer pocket, “in case she got hungry when she was at school”. Not just the Weetabix biscuits but the milk as well. I actually remember doing it, thinking I was being really helpful. Have you ever tried to get dried Weetabix off of a bowl? Imagine trying to get it out of a blazer pocket. I also put knitting needles up her nose when she was asleep too apparently but I don’t remember that. I remember being four and being on a BBC TV show called A Little Silver Trumpet, I thought it was all real. Nursey out of Blackadder played my mum, Patsy Byrne. Most of it was filmed at White City, in the big round BBC Television Centre, but I remember going to film in Brighton. Spending hours getting my hair and face made up in black grease (it was set in olden times and we were a poor and dirty redheaded family in the slums) and the agony of having it all washed out afterwards at home. Memories are a funny thing, you have snippets of this and that, and even more grown up times can be not that much different. I obviously remember a lot about being at university, but then it’s like, do I? There are people who I know I met and spent time with but have absolutely no recollection of now, name or anything. Same with secondary school. The memories are there but are jumbled up, and appear in dreams, that strange dreamspace which looks like my old school (which no longer exists, it was knocked down), where I get lost wandering around like it is a forbidden zone, and people who are probably dead or at least quite old now appear like ghosts. That’s what I don’t like about Facebook I think (well that and all the St George’s flags), the past can sometimes be better left as a hazy memory. This is why I draw stuff. It’s more reliable than writing a diary. I can see into my head and connect with my past self better when I look at a sketchbook, whereas a diary shows me someone I don’t necessarily recognize any more. So here then is the Memor(i)al Union, on theme, at a time which frankly we ain’t gonna forget.
Construction work continues on campus. Well, this is not so much building anything as improving the courtyard at the MU in front of Freeborn Hall. I don’t really know what needed improving as they had done it all up just last year and it was fine, but they have had this dug up for the whole summer now blocking entrance into the front of the recently refurbished MU.
Okay, we’re at the halfway mark for Manchester sketches so I thought we’d bring it back to Davis for a bit before resuming the symposium story. This is the current state of the Memorial Union at UC Davis – the shiny new bookstore is now open, but the rest is still under a lot of reconstruction. The UCD Bookstore by the way does stock my book, if you’re interested! the renovated and revamped MU is expected to reopen in December, I can’t wait to see how it finally looks. My son for one is eagerly anticipating the reopening of the bowling alley; he had his birthday there last year and has missed it terribly. Once it’s all done, I will sketch the end result. More change at UC Davis!
There are changes afoot on the UC Davis campus. Oh, there are always changes afoot, things coming down, things going up, it’s been change change change since I’ve been here. Very soon however there will be a major remodeling of the Memorial Union, which is kind of their Student Union buidling and a big hub on campus (including the UC Davis bookstore where I buy a lot of my art supplies). Freeborn Hall on the right has been closed for a while, ready for its remodeling.
January ploughs on. I’m doing some sketching but not much (actually none in more than a week, but I still have a couple of panoramas from Sacramento to finish colouring and then scan in). The first month of the year is always a busy one, and I have been building new Lego sets (my son’s birthday was last weekend) and making birthday banners and what not. The weather’s alright, been kinda warm this week, was a bit chilly on the first day I did this (it was done over a couple of different days). No rain though, a very dry January, which isn’t good for our droughts. Otherwise, a little morning fog but lots of nothing really. Out east they’re having really big blizzards. I hear out east that they have fifty different words for snow, or rather fifty different ways to describe any sort of snowstorm, “Snowmageddon”, “Snowpocalypse”, “Snowgnarok”, “Apocalypse Snow”, “The Towering InferSnow”, “World War Snow”, “Age of Snowtron”, “The Snow Awakens”, “Gone With The Snow”, “The Snowfather” and of course “Snowzen”. Yeah, it’s bad out there. Here in Davis, typically bland winter weather continues. The “Blandocalypse”, weathermen are calling it. “Blandmageddon”. “Blandgarok”. “Apocalypse Bland”, “The Towering InferBland”, “World War Bland”, “Age of Blandtron”, “The Bland Awakens”, “Gone With The Bland”, “The Blandfather” and of course “Blandzen”. Yeah, it’s bad out here.
This is the side of the soon-to-be-remodeled Freeborn Hall at UC Davis, with the Memorial Union building in the background. I sketched this one foggy autumnal lunchtime last week. I only wanted to add in a dash of colour, for the Fall season is in full flow here. Actually I wanted to colour in the whole thing but couldn’t be bothered, so before you applaud my effective limited use of colour, remember you are congratulating my laziness. Only kidding (kind of). With this drawing, I was really attracted to the shapes more than anything so I think it does work with just the lines and a splash of autumn. I am amazed I had never noticed this scene before, despite walking through it a million times. I had gotten off the bus one morning, listening to some music or other (I think it was Pimlico by David Devant) when it just framed itself in front of me, ready-made. Whoah, those angles, that composition, that unmistakable UC Davis look. If I hadn’t been in a hurry to get to the office I would have stopped and sketched it right then and there. The image rattled around in my head for a couple of days like an unbelievably good idea that I had to realize before someone else discovered it, or the building got demolished, until I finally found a lunchtime to cycle over and capture it. It took about a half hour to forty minutes to sketch it. I love how it turned out as well, a good example of how I like a line-only sketch to be.
(Click on the image to see a close-up). This time of year sees a noticeable increase in the number of these wooden sandwich boards that you find all over the UC Davis campus. Most of them advertise fraternities, sororities, clubs, groups, chapters, paragraphs, commas, and other things I do not understand. There’s a sign that simply says ‘Join Alpha Sig’, so I thought, ok board, you told me to so I will. It is probably some kind of Canadian mutant super hero team. And then I thought, actually I had better not, Alpha Sig might be the name of some alien robot (it certainly sounds like it) whose mission is to enslave the earth, and I can’t be getting involved in that sort of nonsense. And then I thought, why would Alpha Sig, with his (I am just assuming he’s a he, thought it’s probably not a question I would ask an alien robot, “oh by the way oh evil one, oh actually nothing it’s none of my business, get back to destroying that city”) advanced alien technology, why use such an antiquarian painted-wooden form of communication, in this age of social media and facebooks and hashtags. By the way, young people of Davis, please don’t say the word “hashtag” in front of other actual words at the end of your sentences, seriously, just don’t. Not out loud. Speaking of which, all the while I sketched this I was forced to listen to a group of young people talking in that way they talk, those ‘conversations’ they insist on having, where one person says something and then another person and so on. I had no headphones to listen to football podcasts because they were broken (where was Alpha Sig and his/her advanced alien technology when I needed it? Painting wooden boards probably). There they were talking about young people things like going to class, partying, and how absolutely awful their one other room-mate who-isn’t-there-right-now is. Almost an hour of whiny nonsense. I know people have this idea that overheard conversations are great catalysts for all sorts of creativity but they’re wrong, because they aren’t, they’re just boring and you should avoid them always. And so there’s all these boards, colourful and inviting, wanting you to JOIN IN and be PART of them, and evidently they work because those frat houses dotted around the outskirts of campus don’t just trash themselves you know.
These boards are up on the north side of the Quad, next to the Memorial Union (and the CoHo, where I get my lovely Thai curry pho). I couldn’t be bothered to draw the rest of it.