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

The Wokingham Paper - - SOCIETY -

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. ban­erji@gmail.com for more de­tails.

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