Taking in the View

Michael Pope will showcase some typical and some not-so-typical travel sketches with his exhibition 'Sketchbook' currently showing at Umbrella Studio contemporary arts.

Both the most familiar and unrecognisable views of Townsville are on show at Umbrella Studio contemporary arts with the sketches of local artist Michael Pope on display until the end of this month.

Sketchbook gives audiences a glimpse into Michael’s travels over the past 18 months, featuring scenes from Townsville, Asia, and various locations around Australia.

I started regularly sketching in Java – when I go on holidays I do too much, so this was a way to slow down and relax. I’d sit down and sketch, and when you sketch it’s a way of stopping and appreciating something rather than taking a quick snap of it,” Michael said.

“Sketching is a way to appreciate detail too: you can spend a few hours in front of something – or mine take about 30 minutes – and notice the details, stuff you might not have seen or noticed on a cursory look or when you snap a photo and move straight to the next thing. When you start to actually look at Townsville’s surroundings, you notice that: not all of the places I’ve sketched are your typical tourist locations, but they have their own beauty!

“That’s formed part of the journey for me, noticing the beauty in everything and stopping to appreciate your surroundings and where you are at that particular time. It’s a bit of a travel sketchbook memoir that’s exploded onto the walls documenting that year of travel and art for me. It’s also been a bit about rediscovering the love of art. I did a visual arts degree at uni but then worked at museums and galleries for a good part of my career and found with that sort of work, you channel all your creative energy into the job and you have none left for yourself. The last thing you want to do after a day at the gallery is draw a picture; whereas now I’m teaching art to kids and get a bit excited about that and go off wanting to do my own.”

The exhibition is a raw look into Michael’s travels – with much of the work still contained to the binding of his sketchbooks.

“After I’d decided to do this exhibition came the dilemma of how to display everything. Initially, I did rip pages out of my bound sketchbooks – but it didn’t take long before I realised how profoundly sad that made me! I have no problem tearing pages out of perforated notebooks, but there’s something about pulling apart one of the bound ones – you lose some of the drawing, and there’s just something fundamentally wrong with ripping apart a book!

“There’s pages from earlier sketchbooks around the walls, as well as several books to flip through. Those books sort of encapsulate their own journeys so you can follow that from the first to the last page.

“If people come in here and are inspired to draw, I’d be most happy with that. Drawing is a great way to slow down, appreciate what’s around you, and notice the details in the world – it’s helps people recognise the beauty of where they are.

Catch Sketchbook by Michael Pope at Umbrella Studio contemporary arts until 30 May. 

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