Sketch Club Leeds: drawing with a view

Sketch Club Leeds is a community of people who love to draw and create. It was founded during the COVID-19 lockdown by Leeds artists with a passion for urban landscapes. The founders are on social media under the handles of ‘artbyarjo’ and ‘biroguyleeds’.

Since its launch, Sketch Club Leeds has held over 10 events in amazing architectural locations or City vistas around Leeds, including the Corn Exchange, the City Library and the Platform Offices Bruntwood. The unusual locations offer those attending the events exclusive access to locations that the public don’t usually have access to, and in turn enable attendees to see incredible vistas and views.

The time and date of Sketch Club events is announced on social media and on the Sketch Club website, with prospective attendees signing up online. The events cost £10 to attend and include half-time refreshments. Attendance is popular, with most events selling out online within a few days. Each event runs for 3 hours and gives people the space and inspiration to be creative and get sketching. No formal tutoring is provided, but with so many other creative people close by and the founders in attendance, there is lots of opportunity for attendees to speak to others, ask for advice and seek support.

I attended the May event, which took place on Saturday 7th May at Broadgate Offices Roof Terrace on the Headrow. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make the full 3 hour event, but I did get along for an hour of sketching. I arrived at the Broadgate building just before 3pm, sadly just missing the cake that was shared at the halfway point. I was shown up to the roof terrace by a member of security staff. When reached the roof, I was amazed at the view that welcomed me. I could see across the City, including across the Corn Exchange and out to the hills beyond. Not only was the view of the City epic, but it was also amazing to see so many people being creative in such a serene space.

In addition to taking some time to do some sketching myself, I also chatted to the founders whilst on the roof. I was interested to know what happens if the British weather doesn’t hold and was told that there is always a back up option. On the 7th, the back up was a large conference room, 1 floor down from the roof, that still had great views but was of course under shelter.

Another area of interest was what happens to the pieces that have been created at the events. Whilst many are kept by those who drew them as a reminder of their experience, some have been exhibited. For instance, there was a recent exhibition at Coles Gallery, with proceeds from that exhibit going to Ukraine relief efforts.

After the Sketch Club events, many of the attendees head to a local pub to discuss their work, what they thought of the view and anything else going on in and around the City. On Saturday 7th, the group made for the Headrow and enjoyed a couple of drinks and chatter. I was told that heading to the pub after each of the events has become a bit of a thing, and many attendees ask where they will be heading even before the event has started. I am sure that the pub provides a welcome opportunity to develop relationships between the creatives, which is something that Sketch Club Leeds are passionate about, because in addition to offering unusual vistas to draw, they are also on a mission to develop a community of creatives from across the City who are supportive and open to helping each other.

The June and July locations have just been announced, but the time and date of the July event is still under wraps. The June event will be taking place on 18th from 1 – 4 p.m. at Tailors Corner roof terrace, Wellington Street. The July event will be at New York Square, Moda Living roof terrace.

Other future events will be announced online soon, so keep an eye on the Sketch Club website and social media channels. In the future, the founders are also keen to consider going on tour to other cities and places so that members can experience other vistas – so watch this space!

Photographs by Gemma Bridge. Cover photograph – Founders Clifford Stead (l) and Yusef Arjomandkhah .

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