"Explorers' Sketchbooks: The Art of Discovery and Adventure"

Apr 18, 2017

On this installment of ST, we speak with the British author and historian Huw Lewis-Jones, who is one of the editors (along with his wife, Kari Herbert) of a striking and engaging new book, "Explorers' Sketchbooks: The Art of Discovery and Adventure." As was noted of this book in a starred review in Library Journal: "The intersection of adventure, art, and memoir doesn't get any better than this title, edited by polar guides and husband-and-wife team Lewis-Jones and ­Herbert. This delicious oversized sampler of illustrated field notes offers alphabetically arranged excerpts from the notebooks of 70 naturalists, ethnographers, scientists, and mountaineers, famous and obscure, from John White's 1585 depictions of Algonquin Indians to Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean's paintings of rock collecting on the moon. A brief biography of each person, with highlights from their travels, accompanies high-quality illustrations: not only landscapes and wildlife but also portraits of long-vanished people, architecture, and customs, plus journal ephemera -- sure to please sketchbook lovers. Most predate the mid-20th century, so predictably, few women and even fewer nonwhite artists are featured; issues of colonialism and appropriation are touched on, but these are not in-depth studies. Rather, they are tantalizing vignettes of those who took up pencil, paints, and paper to communicate firsthand the wonder of their discoveries."