How a lunchtime hobby helped to give boost to charity close to Edinburgh artist’s heart

Andy Glidden sketching on the streets of the Capital.
Andy Glidden sketching on the streets of the Capital.
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what started as a bid to get away from his desk at lunchtime has turned into a healthy contribution to a charity close to Andy Glidden’s heart.

The design-agency owner challenged himself to a weekly 15-minute sketch of an aspect of the city after finding that some days he would barely leave his desk.

Now, after a year of doodling and an exhibition showcasing his work, he has raised over £7,000 for Alzheimer’s Research UK.

He said: “As a professional commercial designer, I found myself spending almost the entire working week sitting at my desk in our George Street studio in front of the computer, eating lunch at the same desk. I needed to break the cycle.” After posting his sketches on social media, interest grew and an exhibition was held in White Stuff on George Street.

With 33 of the 52 original sketches sold on the night, Andy’s efforts saw him hand over a sizeable cheque to the charity – the biggest donation by a private individual ever made in Scotland.

Andy’s art was started so that he could reap the health benefits but he had no idea his project would end up helping others.

He said: “The curious thing about the project is that I never started out saying I want to raise some money. It was purely to get out of the office.”

Andy’s 91-year-old father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease ten years ago.

He said: “He’s quite far gone now and I just wanted to do something that would maybe help. It’s such a horrible way you see somebody’s character and soul and their dignity being sucked out of them.

“I hope that at some point in the future medical science can work out what’s going on and come up with ways to either slow it down or alleviate it.”

Used to working to tight briefs for clients, returning to sketching was a chance for Andy, who studied at Edinburgh College of Art, to be creative on his own terms.

He said: “I wanted to understand how my drawing style might evolve.

“The 15 minute rule was curious, it is long enough but you have to go really quickly. There was no time for pondering and rubbing stuff out – you have to just get on with it. It was quite lively.” Andy has now published a collection of his works, 52 in 52 – 15-minute sketches of Edinburgh and beyond, documenting every drawing and the practice behind it.

The Edinburgh Filmhouse, Ross Fountain and Barclay Viewforth Church have all been captured by Andy’s eye and artist’s tools.

He doesn’t have a favourite but has kept five of the original sketches to hang at home and gifted one of Gullane Beach to his daughter, who loves the East Lothian beauty spot.

His work has inspired others to pick up a pencil.

He said: “I met a few people who wanted to draw but didn’t feel they could and I said just do it.”

A new creative project might be on the cards for 2019. Andy said: “I have got the back of my mind to think about going back out. I’m being drawn by coastal scenes but nothing is formalised yet.”