Late last year (2014) a local Belfast photographer – Chris Barr – displayed his collection of beautiful private sketchbooks in the atrium of the art college, at the University of Ulster in Belfast. Each week a new book would be opened and it was quite intriguing to see how he worked and dissected his thought process. Sketchbooks are the beginning of an idea; the start of something great, or not, perhaps. They are akin to a diary, a visual documentation of the innermost ideas and ‘Eureka’ moments that an artist or designer may have; so, having them on show for everyone to eyeball, is kind of a big deal. I remember thinking that displaying Chris’ sketchbooks was such as unique and different thing to do, usually we only ever see the polished final products. Seeing the beginnings of an idea is perhaps more interesting than seeing something the final article? The excitement lies in the idea.
The idea to show Chris’ books may, or may, not have been inspired by The Sketchbook Project; who have been displaying sketchbooks both online and at the Brooklyn Art Library since 2006. In their own words:
We are an independent Brooklyn-based company that organizes global, collaborative art projects. Our flagship endeavor is The Sketchbook Project, a crowd-sourced library that features 31,752 artists’ books contributed by creative people from 135+ countries. Brooklyn Art Library is our storefront exhibition space in the heart of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY where The Sketchbook Project collection is on view to the public.
Their site displays an incredible amount of scanned sketchbooks and you can literally lose hours scrolling through them; we humans tend to enjoy a bit of nosiness! The site is awesome and well worth a visit; although witnessing them at first hand in the Brooklyn Art Library would definitely trump the website I imagine. If your in New York, go visit!