Yes, there are some artists who look at a scene and simply see an interesting design and spots of color. But many more find themselves pulled into the subject matter. Nick Andrew set out to paint a different park in London, England, each week, and this straightforward task has turned into a blog that explores history, park design, and the ways people interact with public land.
Lead Image: “Emslie Horniman Pleasance,” by Nick Andrew
Andrew likes to work within a theme, or in a series, and his past projects include a series in which he depicted Stourhead, an estate in Wiltshire, once a week for a year. He decided to launch a project titled Sticks in Smoke for 2016, visiting one public park in Central London each week. He soon was sucked in.
“The parks and gardens I’ve explored so far have been far more varied than I expected, each one having a unique character,” says Andrew. “But I’ve also been absolutely fascinated by the stories they have to tell about their neighborhoods, local people, and about the multi-layered history of this city, from Roman and medieval times through to the Blitz and the present day. The blog was originally only intended for showing the drawings I made, along with a bit of description. However, I’ve found the history and the ‘stories’ that these places have to tell are so interesting, and there’s so much to observe in the nature, the people, sounds and other sensations, that the need to write about these things in my blog posts has become almost as important to me as the drawings.”
The project proved to be expansive, and Andrew found himself slightly altering his method. “I soon narrowed my choice of media to ballpoint pen, correction fluid pen, watercolor, and Caran d’Ache Neocolor artists’ crayons, which are all perfect for capturing quickly the feeling of movement and activity that I find fascinating about these places. I’m hoping it will take a year. I decided to limit myself to the Central London boroughs of City of London, City of Westminster, and Kensington & Chelsea, in which I had a list of 54 public green spaces, which seemed perfect for a year-long project. The problem is I keep finding more public gardens that aren’t on the list, so I’m either going to have to extend the timescale, be more selective, or study more than one space each week! And, possibly, I might even continue with other London boroughs for the following year.”