Anna Skeels' uniquely beautiful and nostalgic drawings of British housing estates

8 August 2018

Anna Skeels, a dear It’s Nice That favourite and graduate from 2015, had been a bit of a rut drawing wise recently. To get out of the hole, Anna tells us that she “took some pictures of the eerie looking bungalows I’d walk past every day.”

Partly inspired by the fact she’s currently learning to drive, “which has taken me around many picturesque housing estates!”, the illustrator set herself the aim of encapsulating the British suburban nostalgia that seeps out of her neighbourhood’s boxy architecture and neatly trimmed hedges.

What began as a task to help Anna “using coloured pencils a bit and improve my drawing,” has become one of our favourite illustration series of hers to date. This is because it’s so relatable, due to the illustrator’s technique of mainly just “drawing what I see around me. I suppose I like the challenge of trying to portray something familiar in a way that makes you look at it with fresh eyes, being able to find something uncanny, interesting or beautiful in the every day.”

Anna’s drawings depict the kind of cul-de-sacs that can be found the length and breadth of Britain. There’s a charm to the generic nature of the material, picturing “bungalows and sixties builds with dormer windows which are such a familiar sight, kind of motifs of small-town English suburbia, which in itself is interesting to explore,” she points out. Influenced by the matter of fact work of documentary photographers “like Martin Parr, John Bulmer and Tom Wood; and directors such as Gideon Koppel, which has probably filtered into the content of my work,” Anna’s latest work doesn’t try to interpret British suburbia. Instead, it portrays it for what is, architecturally similar, slightly boring, but uniquely beautiful too.

Thinking about what to do with this now cohesive collection of drawings, Anna says she’d like to work with the “images more sequentially, perhaps try a comic; conveying a narrative or an atmosphere through multiple images,” she explains. “Having a personal project when you’re also doing work for other people is a nice ground thing,” the illustrator continues. “It’s allowed me to switch in some senses, and just enjoy making pictures and improve my technique, without overly worrying about the audience of the image.”

For now, the series, aptly titled Houses, will continue as it’s “really reignited my desire to draw and properly look at things.”


Anna Skeels: Houses, Bungalow and Snow


Anna Skeels: Houses, Bungalow with Seagull


Anna Skeels: Houses, Catford


Anna Skeels: Houses, House and Hedge


Anna Skeels: Houses, House near Lidl


Anna Skeels: Houses, May


Anna Skeels: Houses, Palm


Anna Skeels: Houses, Semi-Detatched


Anna Skeels: Houses, Sheltered Housing

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About the Author

Lucy Bourton

Lucy (she/her) is the senior editor at Insights, a research-driven department with It's Nice That. Get in contact with her for potential Insights collaborations or to discuss Insights' fortnightly column, POV. Lucy has been a part of the team at It's Nice That since 2016, first joining as a staff writer after graduating from Chelsea College of Art with a degree in Graphic Design Communication.

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