Lydia Thornley


Dispatches from a Small World has been a personal project reporting from my London garden in sketches. It spans three years and has grown to a collection of 648 drawings.

The project started in the lockdown of 2020. A prolific filler of sketchbooks, I found my sketch walks scuppered. So feeling lucky to have a garden when many in cities did not, I decided to report from there instead.

Each week, I’ve wandered into the garden to see what stories it has for me – and it’s rarely been the story I've planned to draw. The garden has taught me much about time, the complexity of colour and the comings and goings of wildlife.

I’m a designer, creative director and sketcher. I’ve drawn since before I could walk but for decades, it was the unseen part of my design practice – the thinking on paper and workings-out. Then, via a booklet on that part of my design work and a challenge to do a drawing a day, reportage sketching became part of my work in its own right. 

My style is loose, gestural line with washes of colour and handwritten notes. I use traditional art materials, office stationery, stuff that’s around me (Kitchen scourer, anyone?) and on this project, I’ve worked on waste and handed-down papers.

I learned about gardening from my mum, who taught herself from Victorian books. 10 years’ community gardening alongside people who knew their onions (literally), taught me more. My own garden is a mix of wild and cultivated, edible and decorative, sown, given and brought by the birds. It’s my bit of countryside in the city. Through this project, I’ve got to know its character and rhythms that bit better.


Contact me about sketching commissions, picture sales, workshops or press enquiries:
Tel: +44 (0)7711 198173

Read more about the project on my studio website:
Visit my studio website

Follow me:
Instagram: @lydiathornley
Twitter: @lydiathornley
LinkedIn: Lydia Thornley

Go shopping for organic cotton garments and tote bags:
Visit my Teemill shop

Find out more about my design, creative direction and reportage sketching work:
Visit my studio website