Dispatches from a small world started as a lockdown project in March 2020. A prolific filler of sketchbooks, I thrived on sketchwalks and drawing on journeys. But In my London neighbourhood, there were ‘keep moving’ and ‘don’t sit here’ messages in the parks. So I decided to report from my back garden instead, where I grow flowers and food.
Spending time with plants through drawing, I noticed things that I wouldn’t otherwise have seen. I watched seedlings come up, leaves unfurl, flowers shake out their skirts, fruits turn, seeds set... Simple colours turned out to have a lot more going on and the growing season was richer and more complex than I'd thought.
Now in its third growing season, the project has created a collection of over 400 drawings. This blog is its online home, documenting as I go – and as I grow.
Born in 1960s Kent to an ad man and a singer, I started drawing before I could walk. I studied at Canterbury College of Art, now UCA, and graduated with a BA(Hons) in graphic design. I moved to London, worked at design practices for 10 years and then went freelance.
My late career adventures in illustration happened by accident. I produced a studio book about drawing as part of my design practice, and challenged to do a drawing a day until it had to go to press, I didn’t stop... That turned into my Instagram feed @lydiathornley. And from that came approaches for exhibitions, live sketching, illustration and drawing workshops for respite and connection. You can find out more about that, and the rest of my creative work, over at Studio Lydia Thornley.