Mohan’s sketches bring urban Wokingham to life
GEMMA DAVIDSON meets a local artist who is capturing famous landmarks as you’ve never seen them before
AMAN who started sketching as a hobby when he retired has seen his Wokingham-inspired artworks go on sale. Mohan Banerji, who lives in Finchampstead, took up ‘urban sketching’ several years ago to keep himself occupied, but discovered a talent that has introduced him to a whole new world of art.
Despite never having received any formal art training, Mr Banerji’s artwork has captured the attention of art lovers around the town and beyond.
Having displayed his work at the Wokingham Art Society’s summer exhibition for the last two years, Mr Banerji’s sketches, which capture scenes around the town’s most famous landmarks including the Town hall and St Paul’s Church, have now been turned into greetings cards for residents looking for a more personal touch.
Mr Banerji said: “I started by sketching a few buildings around Wokingham in my notepad, purely for my own enjoyment.
“Someone in the town hall saw my sketches and wanted to turn my notepad into a booklet, but for logistical reasons it wasn’t possible.
“Over the last few months I have been repeatedly asked if I do greeting cards. My answer was always “no” as I assumed there would be plenty of cards dealing with Wokingham. However, I looked around the local card shops, and I failed to find a single local interest greeting card.
“The town hall sells local interest postcards, but nothing in the way of a greeting card. So I created a few sketches with watercolours, had them printed at Jay Printers in Denmark
Street and now they are on sale at The Wild Card in Broad Street. I am really passionate about keeping it local, printed by a local supplier and stocked in an independent shop.”
Through his drawing, Mr Banerji came across the urban sketching movement, a global community of artists which has a chapter locally – the Reading Sketchers – whose meetings he regularly attends.
He said: “It is a great movement, we meet up in a different place every month and spend a few hours sketching.
“It is a very friendly group, and very welcoming. Sketching alone can be quite daunting, some people can feel a bit awkward about sitting down in the centre of town with a sketchbook in case someone sees them and asks what they are doing. But when you are in a group, you don’t seem to care!
“We have been to London to take part in larger sketch meetings, it can be quite strange to see several hundred people all sitting around, hunched over their sketchbooks, but we all love it, and we compare what we have drawn and chat with the other artists about their work.”
Mr Banerji’s work has proved to be so popular within Wokingham that he is now looking to set up a website to display his work, and is considering taking on commissions.
He said: “This has always been for my own enjoyment, I think of myself as a wannabe artist more than anything. But people seem to like what I do, so the next step would be to set up a website where I can put together a catalogue of my work and possibly sell a few prints.
“What people need to know, though, is that I only sketch buildings, and they are very rough sketches. I don’t like drawing people, I tend to make them look like aliens!”
The Reading Sketchers’ next meeting will be at The Bull Inn at Sonning at 11am on Sunday, September 24. The meet will run until 1pm, and everyone is welcome to come along and see what the group does.
There is no joining fee, simply bring along a sketchbook and the materials you would like to sketch with, such as pencils, pens, pastels or paints.
For more information on Urban Sketching, visit www.urbansketchers.org.
If you are interested in commissioning a sketch by Mr Banerji email mohanb. firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.