Nov 27

A Fellow Traveller by Karen Neale Book Review

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A Sketchbook Journey Inspired by World Heritage Cities and Sites

A Fellow Traveller by Karen Neale is well worth reading. The watercolours almost leap off the page, they are so immediate, so imbued with the artist’s passion, and curiosity. Each illustration has text to put it in context. It is a brave and encompassing journey – for Karen, and an enormously satisfying read – for us.

Nick Danziger writes the forword, in which he talks of Karen Neale’s passion and courage, as she shared her ‘Fellow Traveller’ project after she was shortlisted for a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship some years ago. Karen’s plan was to visit parts of the world, many of which were not on most tourists’ itineraries.

She travelled for five months through France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Uzbekistan, India and Nepal in 2001. During this time she completed 106 annotated, watercolour sketches recording her experiences, 42 of which appear in this book.

Drawing with just a black biro, she became a part of each place for a time. Karen Neale found that sketching erodes cultural and linguistic barriers, as a picture and the process to create it can be universally understood. Almost without exception, people were friendly, informative, inquisitive and afforded her great hospitality. She soon realised that despite different cultures, languages, societal and physical structures, there lies a common universal aspiration. That is to lead an uncomplicated, peaceful life, with a roof over one’s head, food on the table and to be surrounded by family and friends, and taking great pride in our natural and cultural heritage.

I leafed through this album of water colours inspired by World Heritage Cities and found they communicated a profound sense of place, and were full of movement, somehow. No, it’s not as good as going yourself, but it’s still pretty damn good.

I heartily recommend A Fellow Traveller. Just wish I’d been alongside Karen for the trip.

Order the book directly via www.karenneale.co.uk