The Edinburgh Sketcher has been thrilling audiences across the capital (and indeed thousands across the globe via social media) with his formidable sketches of the city. From popular Edinburgh vistas to city trams, colourful characters and hidden gems, nothing or no-one escapes his fantastic eye for detail.
But who is the face behind the Edinburgh Sketcher? In an exclusive interview with This is Edinburgh, we are delighted to bring you Mark Kirkham who tells us why Edinburgh means so much to him and what inspires him.
What springs to mind when you hear the words ‘This Is Edinburgh?’
Hard to say one thing, my mind darts around.. Princes Street, architecture, history, the people, incredible views, small but big, new and old, hot and cold, style and kitsch… this is Edinburgh to me.
What is your favourite view of the city?
A favourite ‘from’ the city is the steep vista from the New Town on either George or Queen Street down through Stockbridge, over my house and on to the Forth of Firth and Fife in the distance. But that’s not what you asked… so my favourite view ‘of’ the city is right in the centre, it's a 360 degree panorama high up on the roof garden at the National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street. With iconic buildings in all directions you are high above the streets and right in the heart of the city, like one of the many seagulls soaring above.
Where would you go for a quiet contemplative moment to take stock or simply watch the world go by?
For a quiet peaceful think I head to the coast, I can’t imagine living away from the sea, Edinburgh is perfectly situated between water and countryside. I spend many an hour on the beach at Silverknowes, enjoying the views out over the Firth of Forth, to Cramond Island and the Rail Bridge. Continue your walk along the River Almond for the reward of coffee and cake at the delightful Cramond Falls Cafe.
Having said that I can feel equally relaxed sketching in the middle of a busy Festival crowd on the Royal Mile. When drawing I can be so involved and focused that I could be transported to the calm waters edge - you should try it!
What is your favourite time of day in Edinburgh and why?
A late summers afternoon, the sun low and strong, shining on the sandstone buildings and making the city glow with shades of amber. Often combined with dark bluey grey clouds signaling a storm heading in and making great contrasting city skylines. Perfect for sketching.
Where or what in the capital gives you inspiration to sketch?
I am inspired everywhere in Edinburgh, the architecture obviously, I love the new Scottish Parliament for its striking design as I do the old higgledy piggledy closes and gable ended wooden houses of the old town. The green areas too, Edinburgh has some beautiful parks breathing oxygen into the city, the Meadows is a favourite drawing spot for me, a perfect place to people watch.
The constant buzz of the city inspires me, the steady influx of visitors and entertainers here for a short time but giving their all to anyone who will watch. Edinburgh is always changing, I strive to capture that evolution in my drawings.
What makes you proud to work in the city?
Edinburgh is the most beautiful city in the world, with the best people and most stunning assets. I may be slightly biased but I am amazingly proud that through my art I can show off Scotland's capital to a wider audience online, throughout the world, many of whom may never get the chance to visit in person.
As a local tell us about one of your favourite hidden gems that a visitor to Edinburgh might miss?
Not exactly hidden but my recommendation even if here for a very short time is climbing Arthur’s Seat. Only 30 minutes stroll from the city centre a leisurely walk up our extinct volcano will lift you high above the city, give you a completely new perspective on what is really a very small city, and reward you with stunning views over the lothians, the Forth and on to Fife.
To keep up to date with all Mark’s latest sketches, news and his increasing amount of Edinburgh merchandise including prints of all his sketches, be sure to visit his website: