My recent posts at World-Architects


Monday, August 15, 2011

Book Review: Sketches: From Here and There

Sketches: From Here and There by A.J. Diamond
Douglas & McIntyre, 2011
Hardcover, 144 pages

Trite but true: you never see anything well until you draw it. -A.J. Diamond
Watercolor is an intriguing medium for architects. It has a softness that is appropriate for depicting traditional architecture -- or making contemporary architecture appear warm -- yet it is also a highly expressive way suited to developing concepts, as Steven Holl's well known daily watercolors or CEBRA's cartoonish ones attest. They are also fitting for travel sketches; a watercolor kit can be fairly compact, and the combination of pen or pencil and watercolor captures space and surface more effectively than just a line drawing. I've never been skilled at watercolor -- though I've definitely tried -- so I appreciate well-done sketches in the medium, such as Toronto-based architect A.J. Diamond's watercolors, which comprise the majority of the drawings in this memoir-cum-travelogue.

At first glance, Diamond's book reminds me of Charles W. Moore and Donlyn Lyndon's Chambers for a Memory Place, in its mix of travel sketches and recollections. Diamond's book is not as overtly educational as Moore's, but it nevertheless contains its own share of lessons, born from life's experiences -- growing up in South Africa, venturing to London for school, working in Israel, moving to Toronto. The sketches and writing are basically chronological, but not in unison, lending the whole a laid-back, conversational feel, as if Diamond is recounting stories over a meal or cup of coffee. The words and drawings parallel each other in the way they selectively highlight certain details: Words come from memory and reflect the way certain things stick with us, while the sketches are of the moment and portray the essentials as observed and interpreted. While people interested in the work of Diamond + Schmitt will be drawn to the book, those unfamiliar with his architecture will be rewarded with stories born from personal voyages and plenty to look at and absorb.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated for spam.