Thursday, 7 November 2019

Let's draw London in 2020

Draw London with us in 2020.  This programme of events is provisional - each month details will be posted on this blog about the next month’s event.  This will give information about the location, including where and when to meet. These events are free of charge and there is no need to book.  Just turn up and bring your own drawing kit.    The Urban Sketchers London sketchcrawl programme is co-ordinated by Jo Dungey and Lis Watkins.

The sketch of Pitzhanger Manor (above) is by Lis Watkins

Saturday 11 January 2020

We start the new year with a visit to Tate Modern.  The collection of international modern and contemporary art is housed in the former Bankside Power Station, redeveloped by Swiss architects Hertzog and De Meuron.  These architects also created the new Blavatnik extension.  In the Turbine Hall, a major new sculpture by Kara Walker, Fons Americanus, provides a challenge to London’s more traditional monuments.  As well as the art works and gallery visitors, there are interesting interiors and views of the surrounding area to sketch.

This day is run by Jo Dungey and Gafung Wong

Saturday 15 February 2020

We visit the Wallace Collection, a free public art collection in Manchester Square north of Oxford Street.  The building, Manchester House, provides the focal point of this eighteenth century garden square. Each room in this eclectic museum is distinctively different. It houses treasures that include arms and armour, furniture, glassware and ceramics. The collection of paintings is also well known and include the racy Fragonard's Girl on a Swing and Franz Hals’ Laughing Cavalier.  Manchester Square and nearby Chiltern Street have some other interesting buildings.

This day is run by Nicky Browne and Sasala Wickramasinghe

Saturday 14 March 2020

In March, we visit Elephant & Castle in South London.  This is an area undergoing rapid development with new buildings and public areas, and a variety of old and new architecture.  Parts of the area, including the dated shopping centre, are due for imminent regeneration, so this is a good opportunity to capture the place in urban sketches!  Nearby ‘Mercato Metropolitano’ is a busy sheltered food court on an old industrial site and can offer shelter for inclement weather.

This day is run by Isabel Carmona and Lis Watkins

Saturday 25 April 2020

This month we are drawing in the area of Granary Square and Coal Drops Yard, an area of extensive redevelopment north of Kings Cross Station.  Record an area of rapid change, with many new developments, as well as old buildings by the canal.  Visit the House of Illustration.  Lots of scope for people sketching as well.

This day is organised jointly with Urban Sketchers Cambridge, and run by Jo Dungey (Urban Sketchers London) with Yasemin Gyford of Urban Sketchers Cambridge

CANCELLED: Urban Sketchers International Symposium in Hong Kong 8-12 April 2020 

Saturday 9 May 2020

In May we are by the river Thames in west London.  Come along to Twickenham Riverside to sketch boats, birds and Rock and Roll’s Eel Pie Island. Contrast the famous Naked Ladies statuary with the quirky shops on Church Road. Plenty to enjoy, all minutes from Twickenham station.

This day is run by Helen Hayhoe and John Swanson

Saturday 6 June 2020

We visit Little Venice this month: a district around the junction of the Grand Union and Regent’s Canals.  The canals are lined with narrow boats and surrounded by white stucco-clad Regency houses and weeping willow trees.  As a contrast, this area is also near the modern developments of Paddington Basin.

This day is run by Mike Whalley and Katy Evans

Urban Sketchers UK event Leeds 12-14 June 2020

Saturday 25 July 2020

This month we visit Pitzhanger Manor, a large mansion, formerly the country home of architect Sir John Soane, near the town centre of Ealing.  It has recently been restored and stands in gardens on the edge of Walpole Park.  This offers opportunities for landscape views, people sketching and tree studies.  The gardens and park are free of charge, but there is an entrance fee to look around the inside of the house and gallery.

This day is run by Zane Karklina and Lis Watkins

Saturday 8 August 2020

In August we explore Victorian Kensington.  The area between High Street Kensington Station and the Royal Albert Hall has a wealth of well-maintained Victorian and Edwardian mansion blocks. Found both north and south of the road are extravaganzas of intricate brickwork, columns and decorative features. The Royal Albert Hall is an amazing circular building. Its enormous pinnacle was too heavy to be placed on the dome and is now sited across the road in Hyde Park. We visit when the BBC Proms are on and there will be queues of people to draw. West of the Albert Hall is the Royal College of Organists building, a decorated facade of what is now a private residence.

This day is run by Nicky Browne and Sasala Wickramasinghe

Saturday 12 September 2020

We visit Bloomsbury this month – an area of London which has been the home of many writers, artists and academic figures.  It has famous garden squares including Russell Square, Bloomsbury Square, Bedford Square and Woburn Square with interesting monuments, some very ancient trees, and surrounded by fine houses. The area is home to the British Museum and many buildings of the University of London, including some smaller museums.    

This day is run by Jo Dungey and Sangeeta Bhagawati

Saturday 17 October 2020

We visit the area around St James’s Square in central London.  There are picturesque streets such as Pall Mall, Carlton House Terrace and Jermyn Street, and arcades of traditional shops.  Historic buildings in this area include the Tudor Gatehouse of St James’s Palace built for Henry VIII, and Sir Christopher Wren’s St James’s Church.  We are also near the Royal Academy on Piccadilly.

This day is run by John Swanson and Helen Hayhoe

Saturday 21 November 2020

November finds us in the Museum of London, in the City of London on the edge of the Barbican Estate.  The museum’s permanent galleries (which are free of charge) explore the history of London, including Roman and medieval London, up to the present day.  It will also be possible to draw from the Barbican High Walks and a remaining section of the Roman wall of London.

The day is run by Elizabeth Blunt and Rachel Bone

Saturday 12 December 2020

We end the year in central London, sketching in Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery.  The square has famous monuments and buildings including St Martin in the Fields church.  In December, Trafalgar Square has a large Christmas tree donated by the Norwegian government.  After a short seasonal sketch outside, we can draw inside the world famous National Gallery, and possibly inside St Martin in the Fields.

This day is run by Katy Evans and Gafung Wong

Urban Sketchers London is an informal group of people who like to sketch on location.  All participants have a role to play in the safety and wellbeing of others.  When taking part in our sketching events, please be mindful of the safety of yourself, other sketchers and passers-by.  Be careful about your possessions when you are sketching and in crowded places.


Sunday, 3 November 2019

We drew the British Library

The weather forecast of high winds & rain plus the early start of Rugby World Cup final meant I was expecting a low turnout for the November sketchcrawl at the British Library. But I was pleasantly surprised at the numbers of people who came along, including sketchers from the West Country, Midlands, Manchester and even Melbourne, Australia. Richard Aitken joined us as part of a European trip and produced this stunning ‘urban collage’ yesterday.

Thank you to Sangeeta for organising the event and being such a useful source of information on the day. A brief selection of some of the drawings made below. Do check out the USk London Facebook page for more.

All those books! Work by Alison
Work by Tessa
Helen sketching
Sangeeta's view of the terrace
Watercolour by Robert
Very atmospheric piece by Christine.
Sketchbooks by Jimmy
Final shot of the group at the end of the day. Thanks for coming!
Next month we meet at the Natural History Museum for the final sketchcrawl of 2019.


Monday, 14 October 2019

Let's draw at the Natural History Museum - Saturday 14 December 2019

Join us in December to draw at the Natural History Museum in South Kensington.  This spectacular Victorian building was designed by Alfred Waterhouse and has ornate terracotta facades inside and out.  A sculpture of Charles Darwin presides over the main hall, which now features a skeleton of the blue whale.  The collections include 80 million specimens including wildlife and geology in an extraordinary “cathedral of nature”.   In December the museum's front garden is transformed into a magical outdoor ice rink.

The day is free of charge, no need to book, just turn up with your art kit.

Safety: Please be mindful of the safety of yourself, other sketchers and passers-by.  Be careful about your possessions when you are sketching and in crowded places.

Key times and meeting points for the day

11am: Meet at the Exhibition Road entrance, outside if the weather is fine, inside if wet (allowing time for bag search)

1pm: Meet inside the Exhibition Road entrance to look at drawings done so far.  The meeting point is the area to the RIGHT of the door by the CLOAKROOM

3.30pm: Meet inside the Exhibition Road entrance to look at drawings done and take group photographs.

Note that we are meeting inside the Exhibition Road entrance, not the main entrance on Cromwell Road.  This is the less busy entrance, as there is often a long queue at the main entrance.  There is a bag search, so do not include sharp tools such as craft knives or scissors in your art kit.

Although we meet up at the less busy entrance in Exhibition Road, for sketchers the main entrance in Cromwell Road is a masterpiece of decoration and not to be missed.

About the Natural History Museum

The Museum was opened in 1881 as a department of the British Museum. It was to be built by Francis Fowke who designed the Royal Albert Hall, but he died shortly after receiving the commission, and the young architect Alfred Waterhouse took over.

He redesigned the building and based it on German Romanesque buildings. The result is a Victorian Romanesque extravaganza, with rounded arches and ornate columns. Light is introduced by the use of iron and glass. Waterhouse included sculptures, decorations, tiles and details that all relate to natural history. There are gargoyles on the outside, owls and other birds on the capitals, animals peeping out of foliage, and many other extraordinary details - apart from the exhibits. He used a French sculptor, Dujardin to realise his designs, which were then cast in terracotta by Gibbs and Canning, a sanitary-pipe factory in Staffordshire.

Some stunning extra details are the 162 hand-painted panels of botanical species on the ceiling of the main hall.

Options for drawing

In summary, the building itself is a masterpiece of Victorian architecture housing millions of exhibits.

In front of the building, the skating rink will be open for the very hardy sketchers and on the day of our visit The Penguin Skate Club will be giving lessons to 4 - 8 year olds.

Inside the museum, the collections are organised into four zones.  There is an easily downloadable map on the website. 

  • The Blue Zone with dinosaurs, mammals, fish and reptiles is likely to be the busiest area. 
  • The Green Zone includes the spectacular Hintze Hall displaying the Blue Whale skeleton, and also has birds and creepy crawlies. 
  • The Red Zone includes geological exhibits, and on the top floor an earthquake simulator!
  • The Orange Zone is mainly outside, including a Wildlife Garden and the Darwin Centre.

Practical information

The nearest underground station is South Kensington, on the District and Circle lines.  The Natural History Museum is at the junction of Cromwell Road and Exhibition Road, London SW7 5BD.  Note that we are meeting at the entrance on Exhibition Road, not the main entrance on Cromwell Road. 

The Natural History Museum is open from 10 am to 5.50 pm, and has free admission, apart from some special exhibitions.  Inside the Museum, there are restrictions on what art materials can be used, so bring dry materials such as pencils.  There are some portable stools available.  The Natural History Museum has a cloakroom, cafes, gift shops, and toilets.  The area between the underground station and the Museum has a range of shops and cafes. 

This day is run by Nicky Browne and Elizabeth Blunt.  The drawing of the Blue Whale in the Hintze Hall is by Kenneth Chin of USK Singapore, and the sketches of antelope and birds are by Elizabeth Blunt.


Monday, 7 October 2019

We Drew London Guildhall
(Olga Mackness writes)

On the 5th of October 2019 we have met at London Guildhall to draw this wonderful building and many others in the area.
As we were getting ready at 11.00 am and Katy Evans and I were doing introduction speeches -  a carriage appeared from the "backstage". It was as if we were back in time watching some noble person to arrive. However the carriage has been pulled by landrower car and few men.

The timing was perfect and I think it was one of the most spectacular openings of the Urban Sketchers London meetings.
Sketch credit to Cal Hoy. Beautiful object to draw. Lord Major's carriage, in the museum hall.
In the morning all went exploring the area - finding many different architecture styles to draw. Many concentrated by the Guildhall - producing many lovely sketches.
 Zane's chosen Bank of England
One of the sketchers drawing - watercolour was popular choice of medium on the day.
The weather was not too cold, not too windy, streets were not too crowded - it was possible to get comfortable and get on with the work.
Guildhall by Monica Phillips.
In the afternoon we have had a group picture taken by St Lawrence Jewry Church.
Pictures show time in the afternoon - photo credit to Zane Karklina
Later in the afternoon everyone enjoyed more sketching, - St Mary Le Bow, St Paul's Cathedral, nearby streets and some panoramic scenery -
Sketch by Martin Stone - roof of One New Change building
Just before we were ready to take 3.30 pm pictures, getting together by the Guildhall - the wedding party came out of the Church. They also wanted to have their photos done near Guildhall. It was a treat to see bride and groom, and the large party, all dressed up, looking happy.

The day felt like a treat, like a party and like a holiday at the same time.
Hope you all enjoyed it.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Let's draw the British Library - Saturday 2nd November

Drawing by Sangeeta Bhagawati
Join us in November to sketch the British Library and the Francis Crick Institute. The day is free to attend, just turn up with your drawing supplies and sketchbooks.

The main foyer at the British Library
PLEASE NOTE : The British Library are happy for us to draw there but have specified that ‘the only thing we would ask is that you are all mindful of other people and you are not setting up ‘large’ bulky easel stands.

Key times and meeting point

11 am – We’ll meet in the main foyer just inside the main front doors - see photo above.
1 pm – We’ll meet in the main foyer just inside the main front doors to look at drawings so far
3.30 pm – We’ll meet in the main foyer just inside the main front doors to look at the drawings from the day and take a group photo. For those who want to stay and chat further we can go to one of the nearby coffee shops or pubs.

The many levels at the British Library

What to draw

The British Library's St Pancras building - a grade I listed largest public building constructed in the UK in the 20th century - is a delight for any artist to sketch. It's a busy hub for students, researchers and readers and it has many significant things to draw - in the middle of the building is a six-storey glass tower containing the King’s Library, with 65,000 printed volumes collected by King George III and given to the nation; very spacious and visually pleasing atrium and piazza, reading rooms in different floors if one has a reading pass (free registration to get a pass); British Library extension - Centre for Conservation; Entry gate designed by Lida and David Kindersley; large sculptures by Eduardo Paolozzi (a bronze statue based on William Blake’s study of Isaac Newton) and Antony Gormley; regular exhibitions (which are ticketed).

One of the outside terraces 

The Francis Crick Institute

The Francis Crick Institute is ‘a biomedical discovery institute researching the biology underlying human health.’ The building itself is large, with an interesting design and they have a small café and exhibition area which is open to the public.

The outside of the British Library

Practical information

Facilities include cloak and luggage room, shops, toilets on each floor, free Wi-Fi, cafes (3 inside the building and 1 in the piazza) and a restaurant (on the 1st floor).

Good public transport connections with St. Pancras and Kings Cross stations nearby, both having National Rail, Underground and bus connections.

The address of the British Library is 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB

The day is run by Sangeeta Bhagawati and Lis Watkins


Friday, 27 September 2019

Let's draw in Cambridge - Saturday 26 October 2019

This is an addition to our programme – a visit to Cambridge.  We have been invited by Urban Sketchers Cambridge to sketch with them.  There will be opportunities to draw the buildings of historic Cambridge, in particular those on King’s Parade in the city centre.  We will also visit and draw at the Fitzwilliam Museum, one of the UK’s major museums. 
The day is free of charge, no need to book, just turn up with your art kit.

Key times and meeting points for the day:
12 noon: Meet in front of the entrance to King’s College, on King’s Parade, Cambridge CB2 1ST - see photograph above. 
3 pm: Meet at the Courtyard Entrance of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1RB to look at sketches done and take group photographs.  The Courtyard Entrance is on the left hand side of the building; it is the wheelchair accessible entrance, not the Main Entrance up the steps – see photograph below.

There will be an opportunity to walk and sketch as a group from King’s Parade to the Fitzwilliam Museum on Trumpington Street.  We can adapt the outdoor and indoor sketching programme according to the weather as well as individual choice.
After the 3pm meet-up, we can join the members of Urban Sketchers Cambridge at the Granta Café in Mill Lane.
Options for drawing:
We will meet at King’s Parade in the centre of Cambridge.  King’s College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Cambridge.  It was founded in 1441 by King Henry VI.  We can sketch the exterior, not inside the college.  There are many historic buildings in this area.

The Fitzwilliam Museum (below) is a major museum with collections including art, artefacts from Egypt, Greece, Rome and the ancient near east, ceramics and textiles.  It has free admission. 

Practical information:
There are various train services to Cambridge.  From London Kings Cross to Cambridge, for example, takes about an hour.  From Cambridge rail station to King's Parade is about a twenty-minute walk.  There are also buses to the city centre from the station, and taxis.  The Visit Cambridge website has travel information. 
King’s Parade is in the centre of Cambridge and there are many shops, pubs and cafes.  The nearby Market Place is an option to buy food.  There is a café at the museum.  The museum has free admission (other than for some special exhibitions).  Remember the museum is unlikely to allow the use of wet materials such as watercolour, inside the building.

This event is run by Yasemin Gyford of Urban Sketchers Cambridge and Jo Dungey of Urban Sketchers London. 


Monday, 16 September 2019

We drew at Trinity Buoy Wharf

We had a great day sketching at Trinity Buoy Wharf on Sunday 15 September.  This is the location of London's only lighthouse, which was a popular subject for sketches, as was the bright red lightship.  Others drew the colourful container buildings and artists' studios.  The Wharf offers dramatic views of the river, across to the O2 (Millennium Dome), to Canary Wharf and to the east.  Some great panoramic views were produced.  London is always changing, and it was interesting to portray scenes which are not the traditional postcard views of the city.
Photographs are by Gafung Wong and Jo Dungey, who ran the day.  Our next sketchcrawl is on Saturday 5 October 2019, when we will be drawing the City of London, meeting by the Guildhall.  Scroll down this blog for information.