Sunday with the sketchers

Today the Urban Sketchers Canberra group met for its first outing of 2017 at the Mt Stromlo Observatory. I wasn’t sure how many people would come along as the forecast was for 34°C, thankfully it didn’t get that hot while we were there and we had a breeze for a fair part of the morning.

While we were gathering I spotted my first choice for sketching. This fire hydrant is a rather folorn reminder of the devastating firestorm that swept across Mt Stromlo and down into the suburbs of Canberra in 2003.

Fire hydrant remains at Mt Stromlo, watercolour, 8 January 2017

As the morning hotted up and the ants started biting I decided to retreat to another location. I joined one of our other sketchers in the cool shade of the remains of the Yale Columbia telescope (built in 1923).

The ruined mounts for the telescope now make for very dramatic sculptures inside the shell of the building. 

Inside the ruins of the Yale Columbia telescope, Mt Stromlo Observatory, watercolour and graphite pencil, 8 January 2017

The other mount reminded me somewhat of a Dalek, must be that squat shape.

Mount for the Yale Columbia telescope at Mt Stromlo Observatory, watercolour and graphite pencil, 8 January 2017

We were happy to retreat inside to the cafe for our sketchbook ‘throw down’ and compare notes after several hours of sketching.

You can see more sketches from this morning  on the USk Canberra  Facebook page and on this blog by fellow sketcher Michelle.

My previous visit to the observatory can be found here.

Stromlo and surrounds

A week ago we took advantage of the fine weather to go out and get some sketching done. First we started at the new subdivisions of Wright and Coombs, currently being built below Mt Stromlo. The fires of 2003 burnt through pine plantations in this area paving the way for new subdivisions for our expanding city. I was attracted to capture the pattern of shadows cast by the pipes.

Sewerage pipes above the new subdivisions, watercolour, Mt Stromlo appears in the background, 25 September 2015

Sewerage pipes above the new subdivisions, watercolour, Mt Stromlo appears in the background, 25 September 2015

Later the same week we met up with friends and went up to Mt Stromlo, where the Australian National University has its Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics. Like the land surrounding it, Mt Stromlo sustained terrible damage in the firestorm of 2003 that swept into the city of Canberra killing 4 people and destroying some 500 houses. All the telescopes, workshops and library on the mountain were destroyed.

One of the major losses at Mt Stromlo was the 74 inch telescope. This building contains its remains.

The 74 inch telescope building, Mt Stromlo, 28 September 2015, watercolour

The 74 inch telescope building, Mt Stromlo, 28 September 2015, watercolour

The building is sealed to contain remaining hazardous materials, but you can peer in through the windows to see what’s left of the telescope. I think my friend took a photo of me straining to draw what’s left of the telescope. You will be spared that sight, but the texture of the burnt and corroded telescope mount just begged to be drawn.

Remains of the 74" telescope, sketched through the window, graphite, 28 September 2015

Remains of the 74″ telescope, sketched through the window, graphite, 28 September 2015

My final subject of the day was the remains of the Oddie telescope building, built in 1911, the first telescope on the mountain. Since our previous visit this building has been fenced off to save it from vandalism. At least I could see past the fence to paint the building.

Remains of the Oddie telescope building, watercolour, 28 September 2015

Remains of the Oddie telescope building, watercolour, 28 September 2015

It was a great day and hopefully as the fine spring weather continues I’ll get a lot more outdoor sketching done.