Traditional Drawing – Reconstructing Leicester’s Medieval Newarke

Medieval Newarke J Cook #1 18-2-15 small Banner 2It’s always rewarding to collaborate with talented professionals and the Digital Building Heritage Group is fortunate to be working with the renowned and widely published historical visualizer and designer John H. Cook. John uses traditional pencil drawing and pen and ink techniques to create his complex and detailed images of how townscapes and landscapes looked in the past and is helping the DBHG with creating a plan of the Newarke area of Leicester into which we can put the recently completed digital reconstruction of the Collegiate Church of St Mary of the Annunciation. There’s a diverse range of buildings to fit within this reconstruction as this College precinct in the 1450’s was a fully self sustaining community of Cannons serving a hospital, with housing, dormitories, cloisters, bake house, gardens and orchards to name but a few of the structures that would have been there. Being a royal establishment of the house of Lancaster the quality of the buildings in it was high, there would have been space between the houses and roads and paths would have been reasonably well kept by the standards of the day. The precinct had its own perimeter wall joining it to the outside of the south west wall of the town but isolating it from it and so was detached from the bustle of town life. A number of fortified gates led into the Newarke precinct from the castle which was next to it and from the surroundings outside. It is remarkable how skillful draftsmanship like John’s can quickly add a huge variety of   detail and complexity, the flick of pen can indicate a chimney or door, a crooked wall or curve in a street in a way which is far less time consuming than with 3D digital modelling and the quality of line and tone bring a depth and richness to the image which is entirely different from digital ones. Of course the view in hand drawing is static, unlike a 3D digital model which can be rotated, dissected and examined but working with John really reaffirms what all of us at the the DBHG have know since we were students, that traditional drawing and drafting skills still have a vitally important role to play in what we do. They can and do mesh seamlessly with digital techniques and are an important aspect of working practices and discursive development of visualizations and reconstructions of immovable cultural heritage. 

Leicester 2 A small

About Douglas Cawthorne

Reader in Digital Heritage at De Montfort University.
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