Meet the man sketching Edinburgh in minute detail

Artist Carl Lavia - aka Sketch - sketching his map of Edinburgh. Picture: Lorna Le Bredonchel.
Artist Carl Lavia - aka Sketch - sketching his map of Edinburgh. Picture: Lorna Le Bredonchel.
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From Murrayfield to Holyrood and Dean Village to the Meadows, there’s a lot to pack in when you’re drawing the Capital.

But it’s a challenge relished by self-taught artist Carl Lavia, who has spent just over ten weeks sketching Edinburgh as part of an ambitious project to draw all 69 of the UK’s cities.

The 45-year-old is now putting the finishing touches to his two by two metre wide drawing, which is so detailed it even includes items as small as bus stops and post boxes.

Edinburgh marks city number three for Carl – who has already completed Manchester and Birmingham – and he hopes to have the Capital finished in a matter of weeks.

Carl, who lives in London, explained he has always been fascinated by cityscapes and that the idea for the project grew after he contracted nervous disorder Guillain-Barre in his 20s.

The illness meant Carl had to re-learn many basic functions such as the use of his arms and legs, an experience which prompted him to reassess his life and decide to follow his passion for drawing cities.

One of the biggest challenges of drawing somewhere like Edinburgh, he said, was the sheer variety of buildings and the detail required, from long, wide-ranging streets in the New Town to the tightly-packed streets of its historic counterpart.

“With cities like Edinburgh even a small piece that looks like an hours’ work can take six or seven hours to draw because there’s so much in there,” he said.

“There’s thousands of buildings there and I want to include the small buildings and the large [ones]. Edinburgh Castle is great to sketch, it’s a very powerful part of the artwork.

“I try to include Fettes College [as well] even though it’s a bit further out. There are so many buildings I wanted to include but I couldn’t get them all in because some of them are on the outskirts.”

Having walked around the city for days to familiarise himself, Carl has drawn the majority of the Capital from his home in London.

“It’s almost like doing two cities,” he said, “with the Old Town and its cobbled streets [and] then the New Town with its wider, long streets.

“I had to treat them as two separate areas to get that feel you are seeing two Edinburghs.”

Despite Carl expecting the project to take around five to six years to complete, he said he won’t tire of the process.

He said: “My passion is sketching cities so I’ll never fall out of love with it.”

Once complete, Carl and project co-founder Lorna Le Bredonchel are hoping to put the drawing on display at the Capital’s central library.

Lorna said: “Carl and I see our ‘69 cities of the UK’ project as a grand artistic adventure, an epic road trip, fuelled by sweat, tears, and ink.

“We hope it shall be seen as an affectionate document of the city’s present time in history, hints at the indelible ties connecting people to places, a ‘sketched page’ in Edinburgh’s incredible and continually unfolding story.”

You can follow Carl’s progress on Twitter @sketchnthecity.