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Essay

🚁

Cities

are

the

culmination

of

all

our

efforts

past,

present,

and

future.

Moving

metaphors

of

our

deep

interconnectedness

to

one

another

across

time

and

space.

In

constant

motion

they

are,

at

their

best,

our

most

noble

achievements

signaling

our

collaborative

enterprise

as

a

species.

This,

is

Cities

|

Cities
Metropolis

featured elements from

Shanghai

,

New York

,

Hong Kong

,

Paris

and

London

– places I desired to travel to, experience, and draw in.
Previous to this drawing, there were small pockets of buildings appearing in my work as well as a series of smaller drawings of

favelas

,

towers

, and

skylines

. Following the drawing of Metropolis, other cities started popping up organically from my desk. An upside down drawing of

Sydney

appeared, then a large drawing of

Istanbul

- which I penned before taking a trip there just a few months later.

The motivation was originally from a desire to travel to these places. As I began travelling to more places, it matured into something of a poetic practice; a paper space to play out dreams, journeys and engagements with cities and their people. A combination of real buildings, monuments, and structures combined with fictional or improvised parts became the practice. It can feel a lot like writing fiction when drawing these skylines. While there’s certainly a therapeutic element to the practice that has developed with experience, they are also means of training the hand physically, working with concentration, and of course endurance.

The process is entirely improvisational. When drawing on glass, windows or walls, I use Uniball’s

Posca

markers; and on paper typically

Muji

fine liner ink pens. There’s no tracing involved and I don’t pencil in the skyline beforehand, then simply draw over draft lines afterwards. Only on the larger drawings will I draw a handful of straight ninety-degree lines to maintain the verticality of the skyline. It’s actually often a problem locating a straight line or ruler in my studios. Sometimes I’ll plan something of a composition beforehand, meaning pencilling in names of bridges, skyscrapers and parks, so to ensure everything will fit the parameters set by the paper.

As I have become more experienced drawing buildings, so too has the practice evolved. There is the simplicity of constructing vast cityscapes with only a pen, but artistically some cityscapes have craved experimenting with other materials to bring other qualities and characteristics to the surface.

I was tasked with creating a skyline of

Mumbai

as part of a broader story with Tank Journalistbureau about the ‘so-called’ slum region, Dharavi. Storing information while exploring the city and street level, I pieced together a colourful toolbox of materials sourced locally, from Indian branded colouring pencils to incense ash, and dust. A combination of these esoteric materials gave the drawing some form of implicit authenticity, my belief being that these materials somehow literally contained the sounds, smells and atmosphere of the wildly vibrant city.

Tokyo

(and for that matter

Osaka

also) commanded your attention and curiosity. Through observing the city and its features, my drawings also began to develop a new language – as is so often the case when you’re drawing something you have neither experienced nor represented before. I was interested in engineering ways to make neon lights almost feign flashes and flickers in a still, flat ink drawing.

Amsterdam

also represented a challenge, and an opportunity to toy with storytelling. Building on the tradition of anaglyphic drawing method, paired with a handwritten narrative, I attempted to unsteady the observer as deliberately as the slanted houses in the Dam.

Fast forward to the present and I continue creating drawings from both places I’ve been as well as to places I wish to

explore

, experimenting too with ways of representation. Commissioned drawings are becoming increasingly diverse ranging from creating drawings of buildings and skylines for architects, wall drawings in

work environments

,

public exhibitions spaces

, and

private homes

; as well opportunities to share my drawing methods with others in

workshops and classes

.

Click to grab a 🚁-ride above Metropolis