Visitors to The McManus, Dundee's Art Gallery & Museum, will be able to see their city mapped out in a huge, aerial drawing by artist Carl Lavia, aka Sketch. Remarkably made from memory, the work conveys key landmarks and intricate details of the UNESCO City of Design. This exhibition marks the artist’s fourth stop on an epic road trip to sketch all 69 UK cities, and will be on display for 6 months from Saturday 17 February 2018.
A talented, self-taught artist, Carl has been sketching since he was 5 years old. As a child, he was fascinated with drawing maps, architecture and fictional cities. It was after contracting and overcoming Guillane-Barré syndrome, a condition that affects the nervous system and can leave sufferers paralysed, that he decided to take his childhood passion more seriously and begin sketching with a more ambitious vision. It was in 2016 while mapping the city of Birmingham that he joined forces with photographer Lorna Le Bredonchel and together they formed the '69 cities of the UK' project. The cities of Manchester and Edinburgh were completed and displayed in 2017 and at the end of last year, they turned their sights to Dundee, a city Carl had previously not visited.
Carl spent three months in Dundee, making sketches and mapping out the city. He was struck by its rich history, architecture and distinct design.
“Dundee is the only place in Britain to have two football stadiums only yards apart. The Law’s remarkable 572-foot peak and the city’s harbour offer a captivating layout from a visual perspective, and the Tay Rail Bridge is a significant development, allowing expansion for the city”.
Dundee marks a unique moment in their journey across the UK: while it is the smallest city in the 69 cities project so far, it has turned out to be the largest sketch to date. Carl's sketch of the entire city measures 2.9 x 1.118m, covering a radius of around 6 miles.
It includes instantly recognisable Dundee landmarks, stretching from The Law in the North down towards Newport-on-Tay, as far West as Blackness Road and as far East as Broughty Castle. Painstakingly drawn Gothic architecture of The McManus contrasts with the inclusion of the Courier newspaper offices, influenced by 20th Century American architecture.
Carl’s sketch also marks an important cultural milestone for Dundee and the UK: his artwork captures the construction of the dazzling, new V&A Museum of Design, due to open in September 2018 on the city’s waterfront.
Considering Dundee’s size, Carl remarks that
“It packs a mighty punch” for its cultural offering and global influence. Media has been integral to its existence, with ‘The Beano’ and ‘Grand Theft Auto’ originating in the city, and the first-ever radio broadcast coming from Dundee.”
As well as iconic buildings of the city, the large-scale sketch includes enchanting details, such as trains travelling from Dundee's new railway station, RRS Discovery and HMS Unicorn docked in the port, and buses driving down busy streets. The city is framed by Scotland’s mountains and coastline, urban and rural meeting at a spectacular skyline in this impressive sketch.
Completed only a week ago, the original Dundee artwork has already been sold to Tony Banks, Chairman and founder of Balhousie Care Group who said
“Their whole project captured my attention with its unique concept and particularly the inclusion of Dundee. I was keen to support Carl’s vision and also to ensure that the artwork produced was retained within Dundee. Many of our care home residents and their families are local to the area and will greatly enjoy being part of this and the memories it provokes”.
For the duration of the exhibition, prints of Carl’s Dundee sketch will be available for visitors to purchase in the museum shop.
Carl Lavia and his project partner, Lorna Le Bredonchel said
“We feel honored to have been offered a solo exhibition for 6 months at the beautiful McManus, Dundee's Art Gallery and Museum. We were fortunate to be offered space in the very building we both fell madly in love with at first sight!”
Sinclair Aitken, Chair of Leisure & Culture Dundee said
"We are delighted to be showing Carl's portrait of Dundee at The McManus: Dundee's Art Gallery and Museum. The work is Carl's largest to date and covers 6 miles of Dundee's cityscape. I am sure that visitors will enjoy this wonderful artwork and be able to pick out some of their favourite buildings across the city”.