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My Sketchbook Review by Edward Shen

July 5, 2010

Sketchbook reviewed by Edward Shen, Past President of the Hong Kong Institute of Architects. Published in the HKIA Journal, 5 June 2009 3rd Issue.

I must say I was indeed a bit wary when Errol suddenly dropped on me the invitation to do a Book Review for his gleaming white-cover publication “A Personal Journey Through Sketching, The Sketcher’s Art”.  After all I am just a plain old practicing architect who have never had the honor of an assignment that carries such a high literary connotation.

The part that I share a common background with Errol is I also started drawing things from a young age.  I grew up in the period of the 1950s and 60s, a time when we kids played with toys we improvised ourselves.  To pick up a pencil to draw is also one of a few inexpensive options of pastime if you have the skill and talent to match.  Of course before we could become architects, we were put through further training in sketching in architectural school, at least such was the scenario in my time.  On came the Digital Technology Age and this has all changed.  Sketching has become a bit of an “Lost Art” that professional colleagues of ours who still hold on to such talents are shy to manifest their skills in fear of being branded as of an out-dated generation.

Errol’s book should be delightful to read for all, for those that cannot sketch and those that share similar skills; for those that only wish to admire Errol’s work of art as well as those who have time to read the stories that come with the sketches and share Errol’s thoughts and experience.

For as long as I knew Errol and certainly equally obvious from this book that he has excellent artistic eyes and skillful hands.  In the book, for those not proficient in such skills, Errol gave a simple step by step procedure as to how to learn to master this skill.  He did this by giving a detail account of his own mental exercise in the execution of each sketch.  For those already proficient in such skills, they should be able to read more into Errol’s sketches and pick up the varying “moods” and “spatial qualities” that are certainly unique to the author’s personal perception and interpretation of the subject matter.  I particularly took pleasure in reading through the many little true–to-life episodes Errol experienced in the realization of each sketch.  Since the subjects and locations of most of the sketches in the book are familiar to me as a reader, it is truly enlightening to the senses to revisit these places and their unique features in time and space only this time through the eyes and hands of the author.  The occasional pleasant surprise came from seeing places in the book that I have always wanted to explore and document up close but never in my lifetime up to now got around to doing so, the excitement from the visualized form complete with intricate detailing is truly rewarding.

The book is easy and pleasurable to read but one question left unanswered.  I have been to long-haul trips (or Errol wishes to call them “tour groups”) with Errol on more than one occasion and I was certain I saw him with his sketch book all the time.  None of those sketches appeared in this book which makes me suspect that Errol might surprise us with his Sketch Book II sometime in the future.

I certainly look forward to that.

Edward Shen, RAIC, OAA, RIBA, AIA, FArchAsia, FHKIA,

  1. Errol Hugh permalink

    Thank you Edward, sequels are hard to come by.

  2. Errol Hugh permalink

    My Facebook Friend, Sailor (who circumnavigated the world) and Author wrote:

    Virginia MacRobert “Great review Errol. Congratulations! Ginni”
    (See her book in “Gin’s Tonic: Ocean Voyage, Inner Journey”)

    My reply:
    “Thank you Ginni! Edward is a very nice guy, generous and sensitive and a very good friend. How are you doing? Getting ready for another adventure? I sent a copy of your book to my son, Harlan, who lives in LA. He will be interested in your navigation adventures. I am sure he will enjoy you book as much as I did.”

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