7th Urban Sketchers Symposium: Manchester, UK

Sunday, August 14, 2016


After a year of anticipation, #USKManchester2016 was finally upon us! The symposium opened on a Wednesday evening with a reception at the stunning Manchester Town Hall. Looking around, I was reminded of how amazing it was to have 500 of us from around the world all there in one place.

M. captured it perfectly in this photo.


I was too busy catching up with friends and meeting people to sketch, but several people had their sketchbooks and pens out already, not wanting to miss a moment.

Even our hotel seemed to celebrate our collective love of line. Check out the headboard in our room at Innside Manchester:



Manchester turned out to be a treasure trove for sketchers -- red brick and glass, canals and cathedrals. My first sketch was the following morning, at Mike Daikubara's workshop "Sketch Now, Think Later."


Mike gave us tips for keeping our kit portable (e.g., try using a sponge to wipe brushes instead of paper towels) and asked us to dive right in. Since it was raining, we were inside the Museum of Science and Industry. I like looking at planes and cars, but drawing them is another story.

Exhibit at Museum of Science & Industry, Manchester, UK

I was more interested in the families who had chosen the museum to escape the downpour outside, slickers and galoshes still dripping.

Rainy day visitors at Museum of Science & Industry, Manchester, UK

I spent the afternoon getting slightly lost, having comfort food at Indian Tiffin Room, and then attending a fantastic lecture by Brazilian anthropologist Karina Kuschnir on teaching ethnography students to sketch. As I walked to the elevator after the talk, I was drawn to the view outside, so I had to stop for a quick thumbnail.

View from Benzie Building 4th Floor, Manchester, UK

After dinner, a few of us went to what became the "mascot" pub of the symposium, Peveril of the Peak.

Unlike everyone else, I didn't draw the exterior. But I did sketch some of the patrons!

Drink 'n' draw at Peveril of the Peak, Manchester, UK


The day dawned overcast and drizzly. I stole off to the Northern Quarter, a lively area of restaurants and boutique shops. I stopped in at Fred Aldous and H. Blyth & Co., with their drool-worthy sketchbooks and art supplies.



Time to sketch the ubiquitous red brick! I grabbed a drink at Foundation Coffee and set out my watercolor kit for a few sketches.

Northern Qtr sketch

Sketch looking out window from Foundation Coffee, Manchester, UK

Northern Quarter scene, Manchester, UK

In the afternoon, I attended Daniel Green's demo on painting reflections in watercolor. Here he's showing us his custom-cut Plexiglas easel tray.


I also helped out with The Big Crit, organized by illustrator Fred Lynch, where experienced sketchers offer to review symposium attendees' work and share tips for development.

In the evening, the Urban Sketchers board officers and coordinators had dinner at the canalside restaurant Albert's Shed, chosen by the one and only Simone Ridyard, our indefatigable USk Manchester chapter leader. Hats off to her for bringing us all to her fantastic hometown.


The next morning, I was back in the Northern Quarter. I sketched as M. got a haircut at The Corner Barber Shop.

The Corner Barber Shop, Northern Quarter, Manchester, UK

As we walked around, I stopped to get in a few more sketches. One symposium tradition I love is the local logo stamp we have each year, for everyone to add to their sketches. Isn't the Manchester logo great?

Hilton & Tib Sts, Manchester, UK

Dale & Oldham Sts, Manchester, UK

Too soon, it was time to wrap things up. A few of us set up for the silent auction and then ran out to be part of the massive group picture. (Thanks to M. for the pics.) What a huge crowd! It was a perfect opportunity for sketchers with selfie sticks.


The closing party featured a costumed band (which immediately became the subject of several people's sketches).


It was hard to believe that #USkManchester2016 would soon be just a memory. But just as the evening came to a close, we made the announcement everyone was waiting for: See you all next year at...#USkChicago2017!!!!

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  1. It was great to have you in my workshop Suma and thanks again for your tips! It was my first workshop so your help really helped to get me rolling!

    See you in Chicago!