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From left, 'Vespa RV 150 Paris Plage'; ‘Vespa 200 Ray Raglen’.
Images courtesy Scott Wilson.

November (GT) - Recently, Scott Wilson from New Zealand wrote to us sharing his colourful Piaggio sketches and his early connections with Vespas. He included Ape drawings one of which was a cream coloured Ape 50 food cart from Lubar in Milano.


From left, 'Vespa PX 200'; ‘Vespa New Zealand Classic Scooters Rally’.
Images courtesy Scott Wilson.

From left, 'Ape 50, Bergamo Alta, Italy'; LuBar on Ape, Milan, reproduced in Scott's drawing.
Images courtesy Scott Wilson.

The editorial team was keen hear more from Scott. He responded he would be happy to write something for Wide. He had recently been writing for the Travel Hub for the 11th International Urban Sketchers Symposium in Auckland where they welcomed 500 attendees from around the world – sharing what New Zealand has to offer.

'Don’t be surprised if you happen to leave your Vespa parked outside,
you might find me there sketching it.

By Scott Wilson: ‘HOME TO MUM’ read the sign I posted on my backpack as I hitchhiked the 600km from university to my country village in the deep south of New Zealand. All the sympathetic and kindly farmers wives would pick me up. This same trip I had made on my Vespa 125, which had been handed down from my Dad to my brother, then passed on to me.  One which I had taken apart and painted Air-Sea-Rescue orange. My future wife had a red Vespa 150 and even her Dad had ridden a Vespa to work.

Scott as a boy riding his father's Vespa 125.
Photo Courtesy Scott Wilson.

All these years later I can automatically tell you how the petrol switch works, where the choke is, the clunk of the gear change on the handle and where I had stuck the warrant of fitness (WOF) under the seat.
Knowing where the WOF was once saved my bacon. I’d been studying at a nearby friend’s place on a hot day. Later in the cool of the evening in my shorts and Tee shirt I whizzed the short distance back to my flat, when a loud siren sounded behind me and a cop chased me down. He thought I’d pinched my ride as I wasn’t dressed for the cold. First, he quizzed me what mileage I had without allowing me to look, but what finally convinced him I was the owner, was when I quickly showed him where the obscure WOF was located.
These days I am an Urban Sketcher.
I’m still sketching the familiar shape of Piaggio. I can’t go past a Vespa today without drawing its familiar lines. The other day a Bellissimo RV150 was parked outside Paris Plage, a café operating out of a shipping container by the beach. I even sketched the Island Girl sticker on the fairing.

From left, 'Vespa RV 150 Paris Plage'; Image courtesy Scott Wilson.
Right, top view photo of the Paris Plage bar, New Plymouth, New Zealand.

My engineering work took me to many countries where I was fortunate enough to sketch in the weekends. I call travel-sketching the ‘Esperanto of travel’. People, especially kids, will come up to you to look and chat irrespective of the language.
Once when working near Milano I met up with a fellow Urban Sketcher who took me down the back streets to draw. Whilst there, a food vendor operating out of a Piaggio Ape, and without knowing if I was any good, called out wanting me to sketch in their guest book which I happily did. They then plied me with delicious Sicilian food and drink. I felt like a medieval jester singing for my supper.

LuBar guest book, Milan. Image courtesy Scott Wilson.

Some time back New Zealand Classic Scooters held a rally at a racetrack in my province. I just had to go out to capture the great lineup including sidecars which were taking turns to race.
There is a huge worldwide Urban Sketching movement with many groups around the globe. I recently attended the Worldwide Urban Sketching Symposium in Auckland where more than 500 sketchers from 30 countries turned up. Workshops, sketch walks, art markets, lectures and demonstrations, a truly stimulating environment.


I use a Lamy fountain pen with archival ink and Tombow fibre pens washed with a waterbrush. This technique is very fast with no mixing time required, ideal for travel. Occasionally I use water colours.


I’ve tried ladder sketching (to peer over things), umbrella sketching (in the rain), binocular sketching (for distant objects) and even lying down in traffic-island sketching for a different perspective on tall buildings. For the latter, I received humorous comments from passing motorists.

Drawing in urban traffic or in the countryside with a horse as the subject.
Photos courtesy Scott Wilson.

Drawing a sculpture. Photo Courtesy Scott Wilson.

I’m also a carver of wood, bone and stone. In fact, our front door is a 100 year-old church door into which I’ve carved our story on kauri panels. We then built our house around the door.

The front door carved by Scott Wilson. Photo courtesy Scott Wilson.

In hindsight it should have featured a Vespa. Our son commented he wasn’t represented, so 30 years later I carved a pou (pole) with Part II of our story including him. Of course, I’m blessed as New Zealand has a rich Maori carving tradition.

Another work by Scott Wilson, an engraved post decorates the exterior of his home.
Photo courtesy Scott Wilson.

A Bone Carving Symposium is held each year at a tiny coastal town north of New Plymouth where I live. The camaraderie and tricks you learn are all worthwhile. Beef leg bone is often used owing to its availability and thickness.

Artistic creations, engravings on bone, by Scott Wilson. Photo courtesy Scott Wilson.

We look out our kitchen window at a symmetrical Mt Fuji looking dormant volcano – Mount Taranaki. The volcanic rock is andesite which is carved locally and requires diamond tipped tools as it is so hard.

Immersed in the lush wilderness of the Taranaki National Park (North Island, New Zealand), the Taranaki volcano rises more than 2,500 metres above sea level. Since ancient times, the Maori tribes have regarded it as a guardian - an ancestor, so much so that the New Zealand government has recognised the Taranaki volcano as having equal rights to every other citizen. A story that shows the deep, sacred and ancestral bond of this people with Mother Earth. Image source and caption:, Milan.
Scott explains: “The park originally was called ‘Egmont National Park’ but very recently has a new name which is Maori only - Te Papakura o Taranaki National Park, (meaning ‘the highly regarded and treasured lands of Taranaki’).”

When we moved here 40 years ago for work we rode up, my wife on her Vespa travelling the 800km. When we reached the mountain, the heavens opened. We left a huge pool of water at the hotel reception!
Even with experiences like these we still have a strong affection for Vespas.
Don’t be surprised if you happen to leave your Vespa parked outside, you might find me there sketching it.”
Thank you, Scott, for this marvellous story and your lifelong passion for Vespas.