By our Chairwoman: @NatalieBayfield

Last month I learned of a new abstract way to look at a City. Not via the fine art of Canaletto, the absorbing Street View on Google, the financial model of an urban regeneration scheme or the Geographer’s infographic but instead, I watched as Bayfield Training stole a peek through the hurried glimpse of an Urban Sketcher.

We followed Urban Sketcher Agnes Szmat as she captured a City scene on each of the thirty-one days in May. We would quickly repost her drawings with a brief written perspective. Tough call, since we wouldn’t know in advance what Agnes would draw.

The results were fascinating. It became clear that what Agnes saw and experienced in the streets around her were perhaps not the same as that of the Real Estate Investor, the Planner or in our case: Real Estate Analysts and Educators. We anticipated shops, offices, stations and busy streets eagerly poised to mention footfall, ownership, value and financial returns.

What happened instead, is that we found ourselves drawn into a world of daily life walking through the park, in the pub, a weekly life drawing class, voting, church on Sunday, an exhibition and a couple of trips to London. Little mention of work or shopping, activities that usually take place inside, rather than outside of a building. So, despite most of us spending most of our time in these places, they were hardly registered or recorded in this alternative picture of the urban landscape (apart from, that is, a generous nod to her old employer at Bayfield). What we, as Real Estate Investors, buy, sell and study, the people who use these buildings perhaps don’t ‘see’ them in the same way, if at all.

The Urban Sketchers movement was started in the US in 2009 by Gabriel Campanario, News Artist at the Seattle Times. It now has chapters all over the world, including the chapter Agnes Szmat belongs to, in Cambridge. You can follow both on @AgnesSzmat and @USK_Cambridge. For me, now that the window on this new world has opened, I shall always keep an eye on this unique perspective of the City.

We have shared some of the #MayChallenge tweets are below. To view all the daily sketches, go to Agnes’s twitter account @AgnesSzmat and @BayfieldTrain.

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Life Drawing Class

The Leper Chapel

Polling Booth