ONE SKETCH AT A TIME
Tim Makower is always exploring new dimensions to Doha and indeed any avenue of the world his feet find. “I've never been to this part of the city before,” he smiles, offering an explanation for his delay. He scans the surroundings, capturing a mental image of the venue.
This is precisely how Makower is. He makes sketches of street corners and vistas of cities like Doha. His current exhibition at the Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar ( VCUQ) showcases 100 sketches created over a number of years of making Qatar his home. Of course, he has traveled back and forth to the UK many times. As a professional architect, he runs Makower Architects, a firm specialising in architecture and urbanism, based in Doha and London.
Despite a hectic schedule, Makower longs to sit in solitude for his sketches. He places his sketching tools on the table for a quick glance. These consist of a pen-pencil, a thick black crayon, which he calls a "smudgy pencil," used to create shadows, and of course a few pens, as his journal often reflects his thoughts.
He is constantly exploring different aspects to urban life. Last year, as part of the UK year of culture, his firm participated in a World jigsaw puzzle set up at Harrods London. The project grew out of Makower's close involvement in the development of Doha and created an interesting collage of the city.
Discussing why he sketches, he says: “It is good to draw, it is a way of seeing. The hand can think, just like the mind. As we pass through our daily lives, we miss so much - so much of beauty, interest and depth. We skate the surface and all too rarely stop to look and listen to what lies beneath.”
Makower's current projects include a new apartment building in West London, the Al Rayyan Gate masterplan in Doha, and a heritage-led masterplan for Doha's city centre. “Over the years I have worked on a lot of buildings and masterplans. But essentially I am really interested in people and places,” he says.
He started keeping pocket-sized sketchbooks in 2007. “In a way I've always drawn. You can call this a mid-life crisis,” he says, seriously. “Though I used to sketch a lot as an architecture student, gradually life took over. I have a bad memory and use sketching as a memory tool. When you create a sketch, the work is somehow embedded in your memory,” he claims.
From a hobby the sketchbooks have now "become a need" says the architect. He adds humbly, “In some cases, the drawings are okay. I could find some which have an underlying meaning, but mostly they are just simple drawings.”
The themes in many of the books vary but most of the pages are filled with images of places. Many sketches are completed in Norway, Doha and France. They also show how much the cities have changed over the years. “The city of Doha has undergone a huge transformation,” says the architect, who is vocal about preserving the old while making way for the new.
Makower's family seems to be made up of artists. His son Noah is an art student in school. Talking about his own obsession Makower says, “They see my sketches as one of my habits. I can be slightly rude, finishing a sketch while the family is finishing lunch.” His wife, Bella, is also an artist.
Sadly two of his journals have been stolen and one lost, which greatly agitates Makower who treats them as an extension of himself. His book ‘Touching the city" deals with scale and will be out in October. It is being published in the UK and the US and includes some of his drawings.
“Though I love the digital age, there are a few drawbacks. For one, not enough people use their hands to sketch. I hope this exhibition encourages young people in some way,” he muses