On the 1st February 2012 I embarked on a challenge called 28 Drawings Later. The aim of which was to make a drawing for every day in February. I, and 500 other participants, completed the challenge and an exhibition was held in Glasgow. However, being inclined to push myself that little but further, I set myself the personal goal to continue for a year, some 365 days. I finished on the 31st January 2013 and now have a sketchy visual diary, all set within 12 mini moleskines.
The year was quite eventful. Gratuitous really, otherwise I might have had to carry on to year two. There were trips to Belfast, Paris, Moscow, London, Skye, and Venice; exhibiting at the Venice Biennale; and, amongst other things a wedding and a baby. From a quick survey, there are 47 drawings of Glasgow; 39 of Italy; 9 of Paris; and 9 of escape. On reflection, my time seems to have been spent toying between an unadulterated love of architecture and tearing my hair out with the profession, such is the nature of a young Architect[almost], I believe. Thanks are due to my family, friends and colleagues, all of whom provided the moral support, inspiration and the occasional kick up the proverbial which I needed to continue.
365 Drawings Later is currently on display at The Lighthouse, Glasgow, from the 5th October to the 23rd November, with thanks to Creative Scotland.
In 2009 I was awarded a scholarship form the Royal Scottish Academy to study in Florence for 3 months. It was a fantastic experience and, whilst immersing myself in the work of the Italian masters, I became intrigued by the changing skyline of Florence. Medieval Florence, that of Dante, had 150 towers littering its skyline, however during my time in the city I could find no drawn evidence. In 1300 a law was passed which decreed that all the towers were to be taken down, the material being used to build the outer ring of city walls. They had been the breeding ground for fighting between rival families, but what if they had remained? I made a drawing, Torri di Firenze, which seeks to represent how modern day Florence may have looked if the towers had remained.
Click here for a video of the making of Torri di Firenze.
Glasgow has been my adopted home since October 2011. A stealthy grid-iron city, it has a plan similar to other great Victorian cities, such as Chicago and Melbourne to name a few. The city has inspired several of my drawings, and will no doubt continue to do so.
The first, Glasgow as it was, as it is, and as it might be, is an amalgamation of Glasgow's past, present, and future. An industrious, ambitious city nestled into a valley, staged against a backdrop of the Campsie Fells, with Edinburgh a stone's throw away on the horizon. Although deprived of the defensive medieval history of Edinburgh, an early 19th century map of the High Street discloses a fascinating dense medieval town plan. The impenetrable M8 takes on the role of a city wall, enclosing the Victorian grid to the north.
The second, Merchants of Glasgow, combines the Corinthian Club, the Gallery of Modern Art, and a can of Tennents. What if Glasgow's Merchant City had been like its forebear, Venice? I played with the idea that canals could form the main routes, surrounding the medieval High Street, bringing the Merchant City closer to the Clyde, and somehow making sense of its location.
In August 2011 I undertook a 2 month Residency at the Hanson Street WASPS studios, Glasgow. In taking a break from my career in Architecture to develop my skills, I relished the opportunity to immerse myself in hand drawing. The studios are housed in a former tobacco factory and have a great roof terrace for sunny evenings.
Venice Unmasked... Venice is a magical city, long shrouded in mystery. In fact, since its growth from a city state in the 12th century to the tourist destination it is now, it has been a place of carnival and mask. The seductive atmosphere created by the water makes one believe that the buildings are simply floating, but of course this cannot be true. Many speak of the wooden piles which form the foundation of Venice, but few choose to draw them.
The Architecture of Heaven and Hell... Dante Alighieri was the first person to write in the vernacular Italian language, instead of Latin, making his works accessible to all members of society. His poem, the Divine Comedy, is split into 3 parts; Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. During the Renaissance, Boticelli undertook a series of drawings depicting the Inferno and I was particularly inspired by his section through hell. Architecture has many facets, some good and some bad, and I thought it might be interesting to depict the two sides of the profession in a drawing inspired by Dante.
My Marvellous Melbourne... In 2011 I spent some time in Melbourne. I instantly fell in love with the robust grid iron city. With its Victorian planning, bustling laneways and alignment along its river, it feels quite similar to my current home Glasgow. The no. 10 tram features highly in the drawing as my main route into and out of the CBD, other buildings of note are the Vic Market, Flinders Street Station, my office, the NGV, the MCG and the Eureka Tower.
A Family Tree of Cities... I am fascinated by history and, in particular, how cities have developed and been shaped by their inhabitants. This drawing attempts to show a family history of cities; from Mesopotamia to now, albeit in summary as the list of potential stars is endless. Really, this drawing could be a lot bigger. [click here for a longer description]
At the beginning of, 2012, I entered a competition with my friend Ross Anderson. The brief was Venice Takeaway, a project run by the British Council to create an exhibition for the British Pavilion at 13th Venice Architecture Biennale [August- November 2012].
Were lucky to be chosen as one of 10 groups who sought to discover examples of ways of practicing and procuring architecture in a variety of places around the world - LA, Tokyo and Buenos Aires to name a few. Our research took us to Moscow, to meet, interview and document a group of Architects known as the Paper Architects.
I could ramble for hours about our trip, the wonderful Russians we met, and the inspiration we found but I’ll keep it short. This collective of young architects, in 1980s Moscow, found creative expression in a series of competition entries, as Ross and I have done since graduating 3 and 4 years ago respectively. These competitions were ‘forbidden’ in Soviet Russia but the young Paper Architects persevered and showed great determination to get their ideas into the outside world.
Our work for Venice Takeaway was exhibited in Venice between August-November 2012, and afterwards moved to the RIBA in London between February -April 2013.
Inspired by the Paper Architects we met in Moscow, and by their determination to enter ‘forbidden’ competitions in Soviet Russia, our piece for the exhibition [pictured to the right, in that beautiful table by Born Design] we sought to challenge a competition ‘forbidden’ to us - that subject to the PQQ process. We founded paper+ architects, a platform to pursue our mission to create a collective of paper architects for 2012, to enter competitions and challenge accepted norms.
The events in Venice were the culmination of 6 months of really hard work and it was fantastic to be involved. So, thank you to the British Council for taking a chance on an errant couple of young architects, and for giving us the opportunity to take part in such an exciting project. Details of the other 9 exciting projects can be found here.
Click here for an informal audio interview of Ross and I discussing the Project in Venice.
Paris and the Golden Apple is a drawing for Kirsten and Bruce. They are a wonderful pair who commissioned me to create a drawing for them which was befitting of their love of Paris. I went to Paris at the beginning of 2012 for 3 days on a research trip, sketching and taking photos, and came back buzzing with ideas for the drawing.
In the shadow of Montmartre with the imposing Sacre-Coeur, Paris is strewn along La Seine, with the island of Ile de Cite marking its ancient heart. Vying for attention are its notable landmarks, such as the Moulin Rouge, Centre Pompidou, Trocadero, the Hotel du Ville, Le Louvre, Notre Dame, the Pere Lachaise cemetery, and of course, that tower. To the east you can just see Bercy on the horizon with its Ministry of Finance, built along the line of the old city wall.
"An Artist has no home in Europe except in Paris" Friedrich Nietzsche
This drawing is a private commission, for a friend who spent a many years in Shenzhen, China. The border between Hong Kong and mainland China fascinates me and I was inspired to make a drawing to show how close they are geographically, albeit quite far apart culturally.
After returning from the Venice Biennale, we wanted to grow paper+. Our aim was to create a vehicle which combined our passion for entering competitions; which could challenge the procurement process and lack of critical thinking; and our desire to work collaboratively with other budding paper architects.
So, in January 2013 we held our first Paper Salon in Glasgow. Our mission:- to provoke a positive and creative response to the design competition to reimagine George Square for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. The square is Scotland’s largest public space and has long been the subject of debate.
The Paper Salon started with a site visit, and discussion of aims of Paper Architecture and its role in exploring architectural ideas related to the design of public/civic space in the UK today. This was followed by a design esquisse which culminated in reviews with a panel of invited guests, including Alan Dunlop. The principal aim of the day was to get together a group of creative individuals, who would not normally have the opportunity to work together, outside of a typical office environment. Participants were encouraged to challenge the brief as set by Glasgow City Council and to provide imaginative responses uninhibited by the usual competition process.
Enthused by the success of our first Salon, we began to plan another in London, to take place in April, in association with Venice Takeaway Events.
As in our previous Salon our principal aim was to gather together a group of enthusiastic and interested participants from a variety of backgrounds including; architects, artists, journalists, academics and illustrators, and to have them working together to explore Architectural ideas and themes beyond what they may experience in their day-to-day vocations.
The day began with a series of semi-formal debates, starting with a discussion regarding the importance of Visionary Architecture and thinking to architecture today, followed by a debate on the importance of hand drawing. On the panels sat various expert critics and both discussions were extremely interesting and raised some challenging and thought provoking ideas.
The afternoon brought the opportunity to bring pencil to paper. Participants in the day were presented with a site and an unrestricted brief, they had the freedom to tackle whatever project / agenda they felt inspired to pursue. Time was limited and ideas flowing, resulting in a great spectrum of ideas and images.
Click here for a review by the Architectural Review.
The Caltoun is a private commission I recently completed for the new Calton Heritage Learning Centre, in the East End of Glasgow.
Calton is an area in the east end of Glasgow with a strong weaving heritage, a theme I’ve played with considerably in this drawing.