Friday, February 22, 2008

4th April 1997: Arriving in Australia

Aerial view of Sydney

If you ever fly into Australia you need to have your camera at the ready as the flight over the city centre and harbour / River Paramatta gives you simply stunning views. It's one of those flights where virtually everybody is trying to look out the window. After all it is the biggest natural harbour anywhere in the world!

I can't take credit for the photo at the top - which I found on Wikimedia Commons (thanks Joel). Here's my version (right) taken just before 7.00am on a slightly overcast morning.

Both views are taken from the west of the city looking east across the Sydney Harbour Bridge to the "Heads" and the Pacific. Building the bridge, which opened in 1932, led to the expansion of settlements north of the harbour. In both the photographs, North Sydney, the Northern Beaches and the northern suburbs (where I stayed) are to the left of the photograph.

The water, the trees and the boats
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

The first thing I was amazed by in Sydney is just the huge amount of land which has a sea or river frontage or one nearby.

The second thing I was amazed by is the enormous numbers of trees around and about the place. The suburbs north of central Sydney, which I became quite familar with during drives in and out of town, are incredibly 'low-rise' (lots of one storey homes) and have masses and masses of trees. Sydney also has an awful lot of national parks which extend into the suburbs - and my sister and her family lived on the edge of a major one of these. Overall, it makes it a very pleasant area to be in. "Green" soon began to be a word I very much associated with Sydney.

A 'few' facts about Sydney

Anyway - just to remind myself (and for anybody else who's interested) - here's a few facts about Sydney
  • some 3.6 million people live in the urban area of Sydney plus it gets over 10 million visitors a year - and yet I rarely felt crowded due to its very low population density. People are just very spread out!
  • At the centre of Sydney is Port Jackson, which is the largest natural harbour in the world (it's a flooded river valley for the geographers amongst us!)
  • The discovery of Sydney harbour is attributed to Captain Cook in 1770. However this is actually when it was discovered by a European as it was already extremely well known to the various tribes who had lived around the harbour area for some 30,000 years prior to his arrival!
Circular Quay and Sydney ferries
courtesy of Wikimedia
and Dr Edwin P Ewing Jr
  • the first British penal settlement was at Sydney Cove - now home to Sydney Ferries, Circular Quay and The Rocks. It looks a little different today!
  • there are more than 70 harbour and open beaches in the urban area - making for a very outdoor oriented lifestyle. Those wanting to look at or check out the beaches and surf at different times of the day can so using Coastalwatch and its surf cams. Here's the 'surfcam' for Sydney Harbour - and just for Belinda and Robyn(!) here's the one for Mona Vale.....but you have lots to choose from!
  • January - June is much wetter than July - December....and for Australians living overseas who'd like to check out the weather back home right now we have the New South Wales' government weather forecast website which provides a weather forecast which is very accessible. Alternatively check out the webcam and other details on the Weather Underground's Sydney website
  • it has the most fantastic choice of places and types of food to eat - with a leaning towards the Far East which suited me very well. Let's just say those living in Sydney enjoy their food!
  • my experience of the transport system is that it worked well for me - although I gather not everybody living in Sydney now thinks likewise. For those visiting, Wikitravel provides a good overview of options for getting in and getting around. It's also worth checking out the Public transport in Sydney page on Wikipedia. If likely to use the trains, check out also the Cityrail page and the Day Tripper map here. I used to come down the North Shore line and travelled across the Harbour bridge by train. The bonus for many commuters is that they can commute by ferry.
  • it has to have a downside - and Sydney is apparently the 16th most expensive city in the world
  • the Sydney pages on Wikipedia and Wikitravel both provide a lot more information about the actual area.
Balmoral Beach

After I'd had a bath and a short sleep after the flight, my sketchbook tells me that Helen took me to Balmoral Beach for fish and chips! This was the beach she used to go to all the time when she first arrived in Sydney as she used to live and work nearby. Belinda and Robyn have already started to wax lyrical about Balmoral Beach (see earlier comments). The fact is it's incredibly picturesque and also very popular with Mums as the waters are shallow and hence it's much safer for small children. You can find it on the map in the Mosman area here (which also shows where it is relative to central Sydney - very close!!!) It's apparently got some of the best fish and chips you can find in Sydney. I know the ones I had were absolutely delicious.

The next post is about the iconic Sydney Royal Easter Show.

Balmoral Beach in Autumn - looking north
courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Note: You'll note that I'm making quite a bit of use of Wikimedia Commons images. This is partly because I didn't have my camera with me on every occasion and/or didn't get shots of some of the things I remember very vividly - like Circular Quay from particular perspectives and there are photos on Wikimedia which do represent the place very well. Also, one has to remember that these are pre-digital days when I certainly didn't take as many photos as I do now.....


Thursday, February 21, 2008

3rd April 1997: Flying to Australia - via a beach in Bali

My travel sketchbook for Australia actually contains sketches of my back-to-back trips to Australia and Bali in April/May 1997.

As I needed a flight to Australia which did a stopover in Bali on the return trip - for a painting holiday - I also had a stopover in Bali en route to Australia. So I flew London to Bali, had a 12 hour stopover and then flew another 6 hours onto Sydney. Bali is also a popular holiday destination for many Australians.

Labelled topographical map of Bali
courtesy of NASA and Wikipedia

I'm afraid the sketchbook for Australia doesn't start straight away whereas the first few sketches in the sketchbook were done while on my 12 hour stop over in Bali.

I scooted straight out of Ngurah Rai International Airport and went to the beach just below PJs, one of the restaurants belonging to the Four Seasons Hotel at Jimbaran Bay (Jimbaran is on the west of the little neck of land just south of the airport which leads to Nusa Dua, ).

Jimbaran Bay
from PJs below the Four Seasons Hotel, Bali
8" x 11", pencil in sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

PJs has a wonderful location and view being located on the foreshore with a clear view of Jimbaran Bay. This map on BaliBlog shows the location.

I relaxed on the beach and then sketched the above in the late afternoon. It's entirely possible this was done under the influence of a gin and tonic from the beach bar while sat on a sun lounger lapping up the sun! This is a 'working' sketch of a contre jour scene and includes some annotations.

The boats in the bar at PJs
9" x 8" pen and sepia ink in sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Later I had dinner at PJs beach restaurant and sketched the boats behind the bar during dinner before calling a taxi and heading back to the airport for my 6 hour night flight to Sydney. Drawing the inside of the roof was very absorbing and relaxing.

I have a very clear visual memory of that stopover on the beach because of doing those two sketches - which is just one of the major benefits of travelling with a sketchbook.

By the way, for those who are new to this blog, food and drink always tends to feature alongside many of my interior sketches - often because they are the reason for me being in a particular place!

In the next post I arrive in Australia!

and there'll be more about Bali later....


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Travels with a Sketchbook in Australia

Two views from Circular Quay
- Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Ferries (pencil, 8" x 11")
- Sydney Opera House from Wolfie's (coloured pencils, 8" x 11")

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

My sister Helen lives in Australia and in 1997 I visited her and her husband Phil and my 'soon to be three' niece Kate in Sydney, the largest city in Australia and the capital of New South Wales.

Making a record of my Australia Sketchbook will remind me about all the wonderful and different aspects of Australia. It'll also probably provide an incentive to visit them again soon - before my nieces grow up and are old enough to start travelling independently to 'do Europe' and visit their aged auntie in the UK!

This then is the start of my record of my last trip and the sketchbook I kept at the time - with a few photos as well. Well actually I've got more than a few photos but this is supposed to be a sketchbook blog!

I kept a brief note of what happened in my sketchbook and this series of Australia Sketchbook blog posts will include some or all of the following:
  • 4th April 1997 - arrival to wonderful early Autumn sunshine in Sydney and fish and chips at Balmoral Beach
  • 5th April 1997 - Royal Easter Show, Sydney (photos only)
  • 6th April 1997 - a trip out to visit part of my BIL's family in Empire Bay and the tropical rainforest in the back garden (photos only)
Empire Bay - the rain forest in the back garden
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
Sydney Back Garden
pastel, 19.5" x 25.5"

copyright Katherine Tyrrell
  • 9th April 1997 - jet lag kicked in and after rest in the morning I drew my sister's back garden.
  • 10th April 1997 - sketching in the Queen Victoria building (which was described by Pierre Cardin as the most beuatiful shopping complex in the world), lunch at Wolfie's overlooking the harbour at Circular Quay and then drawing Sydney Opera House in the afternoon (photos and 3 sketches)
  • 11-15th April 1997 - a trip with my sister and her family to stay at Bluey's Beach via the Hunter Valley (home of Tyrrell's Wines and a lot of other famous vineyards!) and lunch at the Rothbury Estate (quite a few sketches and photos)
  • 16th April 1997 - a trip across the harbour on one of the Sydney Harbour ferries to Taronga Zoo with my "very soon to be 3" year old niece followed by a meal in the evening at the Rockpool - yum yum! (photos only)
The view of Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House from Mrs Macquairie's Chair in the Royal Botanic Gardens
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I've got a page in the Travels with my Sketchbook part of my website for the Australian trip which has some of the Australia sketches from that trip.

As before with my trips to the southwestern states of the USA, New England and Venice, I'll be providing additional information about the places and links to associated sites for those who want to explore further. You'll notice I've already started to collect them..... ;)


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Henry Moore in Kew Gardens

The Palm House on an Autumn afternoon
11" x 16", pencil and coloured pencils
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

...otherwise known as monumental sculpture in a world heritage setting!

At the end of October last year, we visited Kew Gardens on a sunny afternoon in order to get a lot of a fresh air, see the trees on the turn, walk a lot, sketch a bit and view some of the very many works by Henry Moore which are currently dotted around the Gardens until the end of March. You can see images of all the works on the Henry Moore Foundation website
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is hosting a landmark exhibition of monumental works by Henry Moore. 28 large-scale bronzes have been exhibited throughout Kew’s unique 300 acre World Heritage Site. There have been previous exhibitions of Moore’s work in the capital but never on such a scale and in a landscape setting and the exhibition will include some pieces that have never been seen in London......
Each site at Kew has been specifically selected to ensure maximum impact complementing and enhancing the 300 year old gardens. The selection includes Moore’s familiar figurative themes, as well as more rugged powerful works that hold their own alongside the historic buildings, exceptional landscapes and vistas at Kew.
Henry Moore Foundation
The sketch at the top is of the Palm House from the seat outside the Lily House. It was about three o'clock in the afternoon and the low sunlight was producing a very weird orange sheen on the glass.

I think we ended up walking round most of the Henry Moore sculpture trail before getting to a bit of a garden where we don't often stray - and where I found a big surprise - which is the subject of today's post on Making A Mark!

I'm amazed that Kew Gardens hasn't been used before for major sculpture shows - the works by Moore work terribly well in the gardens. Here are some of my photos of them

‘Landscape has been for me one of the sources of my energy… I find that all natural forms are a source of unending interest – tree trunks… the texture and variety of grasses… The whole of Nature is an endless demonstration of shape and form.' (Henry Moore; Energy in Space, 1973)
There are still some creative workshops taking place - including a wood carving one which starts tomorrow and a drawing one in March - Drawing Inspired by Nature.

You can also see how other people - including ordinary members of the public - have interpreted the exhibition in the Photo showcase site - the images displayed change each week and you can see all the photo showcase entries on Flickr.


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Walbrook Wharf and Southwark Bridge

Barges at Walbrook Wharf and Southwark Bridge from the Thames Path
pencils and coloured pencil in Moleskine, 8" x 10"

all images and text copyright Katherine Tyrrell

This is almost a nocturne. At the end of November, after visiting the Lynn Painter-Stainers Exhibition at Painters Hall, I walked down to the River Thames and sketched barges at Walbrook Wharf, with Southwark Bridge and the sun setting behind them.

Walbrook Wharf sits inbetween Cannon Street Station and Southwark Bridge (see map). This is where a lot of London's rubbish comes to be packed into containers and sent down the river on barges to landfill sites. The barges are enourmous robust affairs stacked with rust coloured metal containers.

I was sketching at what must have been close to high tide and I do remember trying to work out at one point whether or not the path I was standing on was above or below the high water mark.

I do know the strength of the River Thames is very apparent when standing that close. I was protected by a wall and was looking through an arch which I think is the one you can see at the base of the building with the turquoise blue windows.

You need to imagine the sounds which accompanied the making of these sketches. Water from a tidal river with a strong current is ebbing and flowing - slapping in a rhythmic fashion against the sides of the barges. Every so often it's stirred up as the wash left by a passing Thames Tugboat or a Thames Clipper reaches the sides and crashes very noisily against the sides of the barges and the embankment - just beneath my feet!

Sketching in half light is a challenge. As the sun set I had to switch to just pencil (with an overlay of colour added later).

When this happens I always focus on working out what sort of composition would work best in terms of what I can actually see.

I walked west as I left and saw the stone frieze in the underpass. This depicts scenes from the history of the area around Southwark Bridge. I'd never heard of it before - but it was fascinating and well worth a look if you are in the area.
Southwark Bridge was first built in 1819. The original design with 3 arches was made from cast iron and had a central span of 73 metres – the largest ever made from this material. The present bridge was completed in 1921. There is a stone frieze in the underpass showing scenes from Southwark’s past including Elizabethan theatres, fairs and the printing industry.
London Borough of Southwark - Historic Architecture

Weather in January and February isn't kind to my mobility and I'm not getting out a lot at the moment. I'm going to take the opportunity during February to post some sketches which didn't get posted when done last year plus I intend to revisit sketches from some overseas trips from the past - starting with Australia.