Manchester Memories….

This is where my journey of reconnecting with my creativity started. After many years of life getting in the way (as it often does for all of us) and me simply forgetting the one thing that made me always feel alive. The year of 2016 found me on my quest of soul-searching, a quest that lead me to attending Manchester’s urban sketching symposium. I didn’t have a clear vision back then, nor did I know what I was doing. All I had was an urge to get out there and see where it takes me.

Manchester Memories...USK Symposium Manchester
My first ever sketch on location in Manchester when a lorry came parking right in front of me as I was in the middle of sketching. I heard a fellow sketcher behind me saying: Shall I ask him to move? Then he burst into a loud laugh! That is the true joy of urban sketching!

The night before my travel was the first time fear crept into me and a mountain of doubts weighed me down as I started wondering what I was doing. Leaving kids behind with my husband, traveling to a new destination I have never been to before on my own. That’s when it hit me! I’ve lost it! I have lost my spirit, personality and most of all my strong sense of independence as my mum always used to put it. Here I was a grown-up woman fearing to travel on her own. Luckily I picked myself up, pulled myself together and shoved those feelings away. They did manifest in the form of butterflies in my stomach (the nasty anxious ones) but I was adamant to digest that feeling away as well. Next thing I knew, I was on a plane….

Now new emotions crept in, good type of butterflies in my stomach (the happy jolly ones!)

Manchester Memories...USK Symposium Manchester

For the first time in ages I get to be ME, only me. Not a mother, wife, sister, daughter, multi tasker, shopper, cook the list could go on. The sensation was liberating! The prospect of me being me, in charge of only me reminded me of the best time in everyone’s life when becoming a young adult. Being a student. Living on your own trying to find yourself, your voice and your place in life.

That is exactly what Manchester trip gave me. Liberation, awakening and my old self that I so badly missed.

Manchester Memories...USK Symposium Manchester
Waiting for Fred Aldous to open! Meanwhile sketching this striking yellow door…

I didn’t come back with sketchbook full of sketches like most seasonal sketchers would do. It wasn’t this impressive portfolio of sketches that one would proudly post on all the social media for days on no end. On the contrary it was few modest sketches, some very bad ones and some unfinished. Yet what I came home with was far more valuable than any filled sketchbook can fulfil.

I came back with my heart full, my energy ignited and a strong urge to keep pushing this pursuit of finding whatever is there to be found. I met some amazing people who I get to call my friends and we meet up annually or whenever I am blessed to attend these urban sketching symposiums. Learned valuable lessons and got inspired by so many sketchers and the stories they carried from all over the world.

Sketching under the bridge on a very windy rainy day in Manchester ! A day I will remember forever. I can still feel the cool breeze on my cheeks as I look back at this picture.

I was amazed when I spoke to an elderly couple who came all the way from the US to attend. Naturally I thought they must have been architects or designers wanting to further their knowledge and boost their careers. So, I asked if that was the reason for their trip. It was only when the husband said plainly, no! That is when I was astonished and found the whole story mesmerizing. He then continued to explain how they worked all their lives in rigid jobs and how he had always wanted to try something new, something creative so here they were. Needless to say, I was speechless. It was the fact that they were older, travelling to the other side of the globe not to mention the jet lag and what that means in terms of sleep and exhaustion. Especially that the symposium was three days of bang on events, lectures, workshops accompanied by lots and lots of walking all the while one is dragging a hefty load of the sketching gear. This whole concept of them doing that at that stage of their life dazzled me! Made me realize more than ever how important it was to always seek doing what we love, keep learning and never letting go.

Oh, and yes I also came back with a bag full of amazing art supplies appropriate to an addict like me! Don’t we all?

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