couple of years ago I read an article about the ten most popular pastimes and hobbies of the present day. It was no surprise that nine out of ten of these featured computers and mobile devices. The only one that was different was Geocaching; where people go out into the countryside or around town, armed with a GPS unit looking for hidden caches. Once found, these are logged and the person can continue.
Since this list was published, it wouldn't surprise me if Urban Sketching could now be added to this list, as this seems to be one of the biggest growing pastimes in the world. I have seen various groups spring up and my local town, Eccles, even has a small group now. Whenever I go out, I often see people sat sketching, quite happily taking in the environment.
This leads me onto my visit to the Lady Lever Art gallery. Arriving on a sunny day, the first room we entered was an exhibition featuring etchings by Whistler and Pennell, called 'Etching the City'.
I couldn't help but notice that these works were very similar to some of the sketches I had seen recently at Salford Art Gallery, in an exhibition there by the Manchester Urban Sketchers. Although not coloured, the etchings captured images of the city in their time. Some captured the idea of a quick sketch, as people went about their everyday work; others were more detailed and were careful studies of the buildings.
I have researched the Etching process but there is no mention of whether studies were done for these on site and then worked on in the studio, or if they had some work do on the etching plate at the viewpoint.
These pictures of London and Manchester certainly capture the city, much as the present Urban Sketchers are doing nowadays. Hopefully, the movement will continue to flourish and as a hobby, enables people to enjoy the world around them rather than sitting in a room on an internet device.