Monday, 14 April 2014

Récits et carnets de voyage ...

I have always been fascinated by the way several artists have put down their experiences of travelling into words complemented by either photographs or sketches. 

When I started reading Bruce Chatwin some years ago I fell in love with the way he wrote, having bought all of his published books on an almost irresistible impulse, having later developed an urge to travel, as if it were some sort of uncontrollable inner call.

Some years later as I was on a short trip to the imperial cities in Morocco I fell upon "Un hiver Berbere" by Titouan Lamazou, whose sketches I was taken by and without immediately realising it I started buying  sketchbook  travel diaries of all sorts, some of which were even related to countries I hadn't been but which I felt I would (Mali being one of those).

The sketching styles varied in many of the sketchbooks I got hold of, though most of the ones I have bought seem to have a common feature - representations of either local people or an abundance of small details.

I have been buying  illustrated city guide books with a similar format lately once despite being designed as any other common looking guide books there seems to be a personal touch, which  better appeals to my taste.

The fact that I have been a permanent traveller to Cape Verde islands since 1982 and a weekend "explorer" of Lisbon has also led me to buy the sketchbooks by the well known Portuguese architect Euardo Salavisa on both Cape Verde and Lisbon two years ago. 

As I did so I was far from envisaging that I would this year be free willingly attending one of his twelve hour workshops on how to organise a sketchbook and develop certain observational strategies. Being a "passive" Art lover, who has not often touched brushes, colouring pencils and other painting materials did make me feel uneasy during the first day of the course and more so when I was given a fairly limited amount of time to sketch three objects of my choice within the Museum of the convent of Carmo where the workshop is being carried out.

Having some architects and people who often sketch as "colleagues" in the workshop has further added to my insecurity and if this wasn't enough, associated to the sketching there is a writing component, which I initially felt I would be more comfortable with ... how wrong could I be!!! it had been a while since I had been told what I should or shouldn't use structurally speaking and vocabulary wise ...

Regardless of the final outcome ... and whether I will ever venture myself into doing my own "carnets de voyage" or not I feel I will have at least tried to further extend my knowledge in these areas ... in a somewhat less passive way.

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