Karen Neale Art

A Fellow Traveller. A Fellow Traveller cover

A Fellow Traveller

My fourth sketchbook entitled 'A Fellow Traveller' was published in 2015. Very limited edition canvas prints of views from the book were shown at The Barbican in London and Stamford Arts Centre. A selection of these will also be at my forthcoming exhibition 'Magic Metropolis' in April 2017.
A Fellow Traveller © Karen Neale, Watercolour Artist London

My passion is sketching and painting the world around me. A Fellow Traveller is a sketchbook diary of my journey which was inspired by the UNESCO World Heritage List. I was awarded a Churchill Travelling Fellowship in 2001. Leaving London in April that year, I travelled for five months through France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Uzbekistan, India and Nepal. During this time I completed 106 annotated, watercolour sketches recording my experience, 42 of which appear in the book.

San Gimignano, Italy © Karen Neale, Watercolour Artist London

A Fellow Traveller. San Gimignano

The sketches are not only about capturing the designated buildings, monuments and landscapes, but also recording at that point in time, their context, the people and the bustle of every day life in these places - humanity in its heritage.

The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey © Karen Neale, Watercolour Artist London

A Fellow Traveller. Grand Bazaar

The title 'A Fellow Traveller' was chosen for a few reasons. I was awarded a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust (WCMT) Travelling Fellowship in 2001. Being awarded a Churchill Travelling Fellowship not only took away any financial worries, it also opened doors and gave my journey more purpose. So I wanted to highlight the importance of the fellowship in the title as well as the fact that my sketchbook, which was my 'fellow traveller' was also my passport to people and places. Sketching erodes cultural and linguistic barriers, as a picture and the process to create it can be universally understood. Also, maybe the reader is the fellow traveller..........

Lake Pichola, Udaipur, India © Karen Neale, Watercolour Artist London

A Fellow Traveller. Udaipur

'A Fellow Traveller' Exhibition marks a new departure for me. In my previous exhibitions I have always produced watercolour paintings from my sketchbooks. This time is different. The journey was in 2001 and on my return I did some watercolour paintings from the sketchbooks and had an exhibition where I had worked as an architect, which launched my transition from architect to artist. So this time, after lots of thinking and experimenting and some minimal digital touching up by me , I've decided to let each picture literally leap out the book and onto double sized canvases (approximately 30 x 85cm for the double page spreads).

Matera, Italy © Karen Neale, Watercolour Artist London

A Fellow Traveller. Matera

As previously mentioned the World Heritage List was the inspiration for my journey. Along the way I saw countless precious places that are not on the list, but had to be drawn. Some of them are in this book as an indelible and interwoven part of the journey. Everywhere in the world we are never far from magical places and the World Heritage List highlights the most prominent ones and keeps us aware how precious and fragile our world is...

Khiva, Uzbekistan © Karen Neale, Watercolour Artist London

A Fellow Traveller. Khiva

It was on 5th April 2001 that I set out on a five month journey, having been awarded a Travelling Fellowship by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust , visiting UNESCO World Heritage Cities and Sites (and other wonderful places) through France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Uzbekistan, India and Nepal. I returned in September 2001 having completed 106 annotated watercolour sketches in my diary recording my experiences. Here are a few extracts from my diary:

‘France - April 5th 2001 - My train leaves Waterloo and arrives in Paris about three hours later and my journey has begun. A gentle start with only subtle cultural differences with which to contend. The rainy April weather and the train drivers' strike made me feel not far from home at all. Surprisingly, I must have had a convincing savoir faire look in France because I have been asked for directions at least a dozen times. Only when I opened my mouth did I give the game away!...

Venice, Italy © Karen Neale, Watercolour Artist London

A Fellow Traveller. Venice Karen

‘Italy – arrived on 27th April 2001 - what can one say but Bella Italia....
……A few hours in Venice- either you stay for years getting lost down all the amazing alleys (which I intend to do in the future) or you sit and gawp in amazement with all the thousands of tourists and pigeons at fabulous St Marks Square. It is my most colourful and sunny sketch so far…….

Arg-e-Bam © Karen Neale
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A Fellow Traveller. Arg-e-Bam Karen

…..Iran - 30th June 2001 - The heat rises to nearer 40 degrees and more and it is on with the not so little black dress and hejab to form your own portable oven. After a couple of days of adjustment to this attire everywhere outside your room and seeing one half of the population also dressed like you, but of course with exquisite Persian elegance and aplomb which you can't hope to achieve in a couple of weeks, it all seems quite normal…………You can walk for miles along relatively cool terracotta domed lanes and alleys of the bazaars which are teeming with everything from intricately carved hair slides to vast copper vessels, to carpets and cakes galore, all washed down with compulsory cup of chay in atmospheric teahouses where the locals get down to their business over the hubbly bubbly pipes, reclining on the low level cushioned couches. (Stress seized businesses everywhere take note!) Maybe because there are not many travelers here, the hospitality shown by so many people to foreigners is quite overwhelming and humbling……..

Kathmandu © Karen Neale
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A Fellow Traveller. Kathmand Karen

…..Kathmandu – 22nd August 2001- Ancient history is fresh and youthful here, as stone Buddhas and Incarnations, stupas and other edifices nestle in amongst the washing lines and 'Internet access here' signs. Medieval and modern life combines in a wonderful vibrancy in some amazing characteristic Nepalese adaptation. The apparent randomness of the religious and secular buildings belies a wonderful complex and intricate network. In every 'chowk' (residential courtyard/ marketplace with business enterprises mixed in on the lower floors) are stupas and Buddhas or even temples, which you can often glimpse from the street. It is a maze of delights……….’

It really was a journey of a lifetime. It gave me an invaluable opportunity to learn and understand more about the world beyond the confines of my day to day life. This in itself is a priceless gift and I am enormously grateful to the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust for awarding me this Fellowship.

Lucca, Italy © Karen Neale

A Fellow Traveller. Lucca

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