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Felicity Steers reveals Paris sketches

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AJ/Saint-Gobain sketch competition winner Felicity Steers has revealed her latest sketches from Paris

As part of her prize for winning this year’s AJ/Saint-Gobain sketch competition, landscape architect Felicity Steers won a trip to Saint-Gobain’s research and development centre in Paris.

Steers depictions of the streets of Glasgow, which won praise from the judges for there ‘bold and impressive use of colour’, beat almost 200 entrants who had submitted more than 400 sketches between them to win the prize.

Felicity Steers in Paris

‘Many thanks to Saint-Gobain for a great trip to Paris. I arrived Sunday afternoon and popped straight out of the RER into the bustle of Notre Dame. I have not been to Paris in many years and I think that walking is the best way to immerse yourself in a place. So I strolled to my hotel, stopping for a glass of wine, some food and a sketch of Place de la Sorbonne, dodging the rain showers and the street vendors. 

‘Once settled in the hotel I set out to walk to Parc Andre Citroen, which had inspired me as a student when it was newly built. This was potentially a bit of a mistake – after half an hour I had proceeded about two centimetres along my map of the city centre and realised Paris is a lot bigger than Glasgow (duh!). So, after a bit of procrastinating, I rented a Velib bike and set off along the Seine, passing jazz dancers on a ship, an outdoor disco under a bridge, outdoor gyms, bike stations, climbing walls, house boats, floating restaurants and clubs and an artificial beach.

‘The riverside is quite vibrant even on a Sunday evening and it’s impossible not to compare this with my home town of Glasgow, which turns its back on the Clyde. The bike ride was a real highlight in itself, despite Parc Citroen being shut for the evening. I was able to cycle round it and look into the now mature park. It was beautiful, especially the wisteria gardens – and still inspiring. 

‘The next day was my trip to the Domolab and the Saint-Gobain Research Centre. I was joined by Richard Halderthay, Saint-Gobain’s Director of Communications for the UK, Ireland and South Africa, and we had a really great tour of the Domolab, which could be described a kind of Willy Wonker Factory for designers and builders: light up fabrics, organic LEDs, sound proof glue and colour-changing glass all featured on the tour.

‘It was then really satisfying to go ‘behind the scenes’ and meet some of the scientists and inventors who are researching all the innovations. I especially enjoyed the glass research, which still uses kilns and chalices and millennia old techniques to continually improve performance and products. The Saint-Gobain buildings in Paris are a dynamic mixture of old chemical works, new high tech interior fit outs and scientific labs with the detritus of hard work in evidence everywhere. 

‘I rounded off my flying visit with a brisk hike up to Sacre Coeur, not a scrap of time wasted. I had to run down the hill all the way to Gare de Nord, slept all the way home.’

Felicity Steers, 2014 AJ/Saint-Gobain sketch competition winner

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