A Visual Journal

After working for 25 years as a technical illustrator in defence publishing and vehicle manufacture in 2011, I fell into unemployment. I picked myself up by volunteering at a neighbourhood house in North Richmond called BANH INC. I answered the phone on Mondays and that was about it. I had the occasional burst of energy but most of the time I didn’t do much actual work. I decided to get back into some drawing and began carrying a visual journal with me as I went about my daily life in North Richmond and Abbotsford. I drew some little portraits of some of the lovely women I met at Belgium Avenue and at the Community Drop-In Centre on the Nth Richmond Estate.

Kerrie-3Jenny was very stylish. We often ate Pho on Thursday afternoons on Victoria St. I drew her two times and was fascinated by her lovely features that spoke of her dignity and her determination to succeed in life.





KerrieI met the ‘other Jenny‘ at the Thursday drop in. She had a very sweet voice and one day sang The Beatle’s song ‘If I Fell’ to me. She sang the entire song with a breathy, lilting pitch perfect sensuality. She was also a keen knitter – may possibly have been knitting while she was singing.




Kerrie-2Nancy was originally from Indonesia and we met at lunchtime at the Neighbourhood House learning centre. I did two pictures of her and gave her one of them. If a person allows you to draw them, they are agreeing to a fair amount of scrutiny and I am truly grateful and feel it is a rare opportunity.




Kerrie-6My memory of Hanh was she was very shy and didn’t want to sit for me. I drew this picture while sitting on the lawn outside the drop-in centre.  She had stood above me for a few seconds and I had to remember what she looked like. This turns out to be a reasonable likeness. I bump into her regularly – she calls me Chi (Sister) Kerrie.


I met R-Coo on Victoria St one morning when she asked if she could take a photo of me for a photography assignment for her Arts Degree. We became friends and often met for afternoon tea at Finas near Church St where I drew this picture.




seated pictureR-Coo had grown up on the Carlton Estate and she invited me to her father’s apartment where I drew some people sitting on benches down in the garden.

Kerrie-11I wondered what it would have been like for R-Coo growing up on the estate and that got me thinking about kids and fairies playing in the garden. R-Coo is the little girl at the first floor window.

Kerrie-10Here R-Coo is on the second floor and she’s dropping crumbs out the window for the pigeons.

Kerrie-9This is really about the community on the Estate.  R-Coo is still in the picture but there is more going on around her now and we can see the backs of the Victoria St restaurants. I hope this drawing captures a sense of harmony and acceptance among the people who live on the estate.

Kerrie-8I had an idea to do a series of little comics about people I had met who did extraordinary things on the Estate. I would call the comic ‘Legends of the Highrise’. This one was published in Links Magazine and created no interest whatsoever. It tells a lovely true story about a friend of mine and Michael’s garden is still there – which I believe qualifies him for legend status. Maybe people just weren’t ready for this. I sometimes think my ability with the pen is not that great and I get around it by conveying an honest, quirky beauty to the lives of people who may not have lived the Aussie dream.

Kerrie portriat

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