Urban sketcher Rob Sketcherman captures human side of Hong Kong protests


October 11, 2019 06:54:41

For months, vision of the Hong Kong protests have flooded screens around the world. Yet one artist has captured the scenes in a unique way, allowing him to show a different side of the rallies.

Hong Kong local and urban sketcher Rob Sketcherman has been sketching the marches as they happen.

His images are not that of violence, but of the small scenes that happen away from the cameras.

“It’s easy for the media to showcase the fires and the vandalism, and I don’t condone that, but the things behind-the-scenes are incredibly moving,” he told ABC Radio Brisbane’s Rebecca Levingston.

“I usually stand off the street so I’m not obstructing anything. I try to be inconspicuous and I can draw sitting or standing as I use a tablet to work on.

“The swell of emotion under the circumstances is incredible.”

Sketching the first protest

The first protest Sketcherman drew was during the pouring rain attended by more than one million people.

“I was under an umbrella, walking alongside them sketching for about two hours and you could really feel the way people were united,” he said.

“Until recently, Hong Kong was a fast-paced city and people didn’t have time for you. But what I’ve experienced now is the whole community coming together and helping each other.

“It really has brought out a new side of humanity and it’s incredibly inspiring to see.”

Small moments captured in illustrations

One of the moments that had stayed with Sketcherman was a man sweeping up rubbish after the protesters had moved on.

“He was there making sure there was nothing left on the roads and doing his bit,” he said.

“Another guy I drew was standing there handing out bananas. He didn’t speak to anyone. He just stood by the street handing them out to people who were hungry.

“Little acts like cleaning up the streets or handing out water — these are the little things that show it doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from, they are all part of it.”

What will the future hold?

Rob Sketcherman, who is currently in Brisbane as part of the first Australia-wide urban sketching gathering, came to urban sketching six years ago.

He said he planned to continue travelling the world urban sketching, but worried about the future of his home in Hong Kong.

“Urban sketching makes you open your eyes and realise that there is a story to tell wherever you go,” he said.

“I’ve spoken to many young people on the streets and many walk around with their last will and testament in their back pocket.

“When they’re caught by police, the first thing they do is shout out their names and ID numbers in case they disappear.

“People feel like they have to lay everything on the line now.”










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