Sketchbook, June, 1986

Let the Sunshine in!

Enough with the bugs…

In the summer of 1986, I spent just over three weeks on a backpacking trip to France and Germany with my friend Paul Ryan. I’m not exactly a carefree traveler, and so I wondered whether this combination of minimal planning, cheap transport options and even cheaper accommodation would finish me off – or at the very least, our friendship!

But I loved it.

Paul is a sketchbook genius, and so I followed suit, using my little black Daler book like a journal as he did. The art we saw and made, and the values it embodied, made me recalibrate. There are some events that change you forever, not on the spot naturally, but nevertheless they set a different course.

I look at that sketchbook now far more than the photographs I took on the same trip. The sketchbook feels more immediate – its own little time capsule. And it reflects who I was at the time: unsure, definitely self-conscious, but also open to beauty and wonder. At least the latter trait is something I hope to maintain.


Please also make sure to look at Paul’s extraordinary body of sketchbook work.



  1. I love your note books, I packed my my paints etc yesterday to take on holiday, I looked at past little books and scraps of paper with quick little sketches on and in them. They are so evocative, so much more than my awful photos. So thank you for reminding me.
    I too keep all of your beautiful Christmas Cards.

  2. Thanks Mike some great drawings. I’m particularly drawn to the pen and ink sketches. Really like an artist’s sketch book it feels quite personal. Keep up the good work! X

  3. What fun to armchair travel with your beguiling sketches from Strasbourg Cathedral to Pierre’s roof. xx Medill

  4. I liked the American and his big… (if I decrypted you correctly)

    Alan and I are amazed that through all your perigrinations you have kept this material so carefully. The definition of a true Conservator…

  5. Nothing could make a vacation reflecting the combination of minimal planning, cheap transport and even cheaper accommodation seem alluring to me except your sketches. Quite an accomplishment.

Please let me know what you think!