Heading to Manchester: meeting Richard Briggs

May 26, 2016 | 2 Comments


Yesterday I finally got around to meeting Richard Briggs, one of the new instructors at this year’s Urban Sketchers Symposium in Manchester. He is a British architect (lived in Manchester for 10 years) who has now settled in Sydney. We had a lively chat over coffee and I was very much inspired by his sketches and the ideas behind them!

Richard does beautiful simple line drawings with a major emphasis on recording a sense of place. He is extremely intentional about what he draws and what he doesn’t, only drawing what is important to his story. I like to start with my story and work out from my focus in a spontaneous way but Richard only draws the focus (and nothing else!) and thinks very carefully before he starts. The result is often abstract even though it is drawn from observation. He also combines separate sketches together to form a collage and sketches his impression of a place from memory. (Aside: Hmm, I really want to do some memory sketches like this as it would really help my visual memory and my understanding of how the various elements of a place interact with each other.)

"The purpose of my sketches is to start a conversation about place."

Richard Briggs

My regular readers will remember how much I raved about Richard Alomar’s activity in Paraty where we used quick sketches to document a street. And recently I was revisiting the value of thumbnails and thinking about how a series of small simple diagrammatic sketches could be more descriptive of a place than a single painting that took over 30 minutes. So seeing Richard Briggs’ gorgeous drawings was totally inspirational and very thought provoking.

In this photo you can see an amazing sketch of the main street in Phnom Penh, an abstract drawing of the bumps of a salt flat in Bolivia, and a garage in Surry Hills that was frequented by taxis. Click on the image to see the sketches in more detail.

Richard also gave me some background about why Manchester is such an interesting city (including rebuilding the city centre after a huge IRA bomb and the Commonwealth Games development) and I am really looking forward to squeezing in some research for I head off.

Richard is doing a workshop (What to leave out, what to leave in) and a lecture (Drawing a sense of place = design tool) at the symposium, and after chatting with him yesterday I know that they will be amazing! Note: In the photo at the top he is holding a sketch of this workshop location in Manchester.

In the meantime check out his website and follow him on Instagram!


  • Eileen Rigby says:

    Bon Voyage Liz! I was born in Manchester and have a special connection. I went to Mather Teachers’ Training College on Whitworth street. The Townhall is amazing and I do love The Shambles and Saint Ann’s Square too. Have a safe trip and a wonderful time. I imagine that you will be going from there to Lucca – what a fabulous trip!

  • Jodi says:

    Wow, how fascinating. I’m very interested to find out more about his work now…

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