Christopher Alexander “Kingsland” Sketchbook, c. 1946

Landscape sketchbook with work in watercolour, ink, pencil and conté
25.4 x 17.8 cm (10 x 7 in.)
Licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0


Christopher would have been around 20 years old when he was using this sketchbook. A pencil inscription on the final page makes reference to “First House, Seer Green,” which seems to locate him in the village of Seer Green, Buckinghamshire. This would make sense, as we know from the address given on the first page of the 1947 sketchbook that Christopher was then based at the nearby Hodgemoor Polish Camp.

According to local legend–and Wikipedia–the ‘seer’ in Seer Green is a reference to Merlin, who is said to have been consulted by locals as he passed through the village on his journeys to and from Camelot. This myth may have informed the short poem on the rear inside cover, in which Christopher describes ‘days of yore,’ when ‘Brave knights rode out and braved / Great ogres, giants, dragonfire.’

Certainly the work in this sketchbook seems to be influenced more by fiction and fantasy than it does real life. The most striking pages share elements of caricature and cartoon, employing black ink and bold, heavy marks to create a host of rather unreal looking characters. But there are some notable exceptions, especially on pages 21 and 23, where Christopher’s versatility and talent for portraiture are most apparent. These drawings give the clearest indication of the direction that his later sketchbook work would take, and perhaps mark the beginning of his own “quest”, to realise ‘Beauty / By the expression of Character’ (page 28).

Christopher Alexander “Geo. Rowney & Co., Ltd.” Sketchbook, c. 1947

Landscape sketchbook with work in ink, pencil and conté
14 x 21 cm (5.5 x 8.3 in.)
Licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0 


In 1947 Christopher was based at Hodgemoor Camp, a Polish resettlement camp just outside of Amersham, Buckinghamshire. After the war, the camp became home to hundreds of Polish servicemen and their families, who had chosen to remain in Britain rather than return to Poland, which by then had become part of the Soviet Union. Alongside the Poles, the camp also housed a number of their wartime comrades, including Christopher, who had served with the Royal Army Medical Corps beside the 3rd Polish Carpathian Regiment.

That being said, in this sketchbook there is very little which explicitly depicts life at Hodgemoor Camp. There are numerous portraits of men, both young and old, but the only visible military uniforms are on pages 13 and 17. As with the 1946 sketchbook, Christopher’s gaze seems to be constantly shifting, taking inspiration from a variety of sources. The pages are often busy, containing multiple ideas and styles, generally using ink. But what is notable about this sketchbook is that it shows the increasingly close relationship between Christopher’s art and everyday life. Indeed, he is as comfortable depicting traditional landscapes and rural scenes (pages 9 & 23) as he is a crowded bar (page 21), or a queue in a fish & chip shop (page 43).

Christopher Alexander Sketchbook, c. 1966

Portrait sketchbook with work in charcoal, ink, pencil and conté; handbound with duct tape spine repair
30 x 23 cm (11.8 x 9 in.)
Licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0


Christopher would have been 40 years old and already teaching for 14 years at the Thanet School of Art/Hilderstone when he was using this sketchbook. It is filled with striking portraits of individuals mostly drawn using charcoal or conté pencil. The handmade book is made up of a variety of coloured pages including green, pink, orange and grey.

It seems that this book accompanied Christopher to work, as many of the drawings are portraits of individuals which we think he was able to make during his own life drawing lessons.

Christopher Alexander “Paris” Sketchbook, c. 1973

Portrait sketchbook with work in charcoal, felt-tip pen, pastel, pencil and conté; handbound with parcel tape repair across the spine
35 x 20 cm (13.8 x 7.9 in.)
Licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0


This book was completed in just 4 days whilst visiting Paris with his son Steven in 1973. Christopher would have been 47 years old. This book contains a series of portraits of people he met on the trip as well as more sustained drawings of the street scenes in and around Paris, as well as along the river Seine.

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