As part of my "in-house" training at the zoo, I get to have one morning a fortnight (work load permitting) in which to sketch - not what I need to get a job done, but what I feel I like. The zoo as part of its Investors in People programme encourages staff to develop their skills either through formal or informal training. My sketch mornings are very informal and the fact that I can go out on the morning and sketch whatever I want makes such a difference. Most of my work at the zoo in recent years has concentrated on fish and invertebrates, so it does my soul good to get out and sketch the lions or mongooses or whatever else I fancy. For these morning's in the past I have always sketched the animals within the zoo, but this year I decided it would be a different challenge to go out to the zoo's land just outside Bristol called the Hollywood Towers Estate (H.T.E.).
I wanted to do this for a few reasons... but the main one was that during the summer months when the zoo is busy - sitting in front of an animal enclosure to sketch is problematic on several counts. Firstly I could be potentially blocking a visitor's view, secondly it is easy to get jostled and knocked and lastly, as nice as it is, people start talking to me as I sit there and with only a couple of precious hours in which to sketch freely I found that sometimes I would not get much sketching done. By going out to the H.T.E. I could not only sketch something different but I wouldn't be in anyone's way, get knocked and could work undisturbed for those few hours.
Since going out there another reason to go has arisen. As the site is the proposed land on which the zoo's new project- the National Wildlife Conservation Park- is to be developed... it's become a bit of a project to sketch the site at various times of the year, the old buildings, trees and other features before the development starts. A kind of artistic archive of the site.
My work colleague Anna, a graphic designer, has been doing a photography project for her "in-house" training/development and has come out to the site with me on a few occasions. I too have been taking photos whilst there and an album with my photo's and sketches can be viewed here. I shall update it as soon as I can after each visit, but now that winter is upon us and it is quieter in the zoo I am likely to sketch there more often. However, I hope to go in the next week to see if I can catch the last of the Autumnal colours before the last leaves fall from the trees.