Well, it has been a sketchtastic couple of weeks in England, as sketchers from all over the world converged for the Urban Sketching Symposium up in Manchester. With two big sketchcrawls in London the weekend before, the capital city formed its own pre-Symposium, with slightly warmer weather. Actually the Saturday of the Trafalgar Square sketchcrawl was pretty hot and sticky, especially with so many people out in central London, as is usual on a Saturday afternoon in July. I was back in London from California, where I assure you the weather is much hotter, but far less sticky. There was a great and very international turnout for the 'crawl in the Square, and it was so great to catch up with many old friends, and also meet at last many others who I had only known online. We are a nice global family, the urban sketchers. Above, I sketched the National Gallery and the church of St.Martin-in-the-Fields, designed by James Gibb. I look at this stretch of pedestrianized goodness and I still remember how much of a coughing traffic mess it used to be. That right there is where, twenty years ago, I would get my Night Bus back to Burnt Oak in the wee hours of a Sunday morning (with emphasis on the word 'wee'). It's so much better now.
Above is a statue of the Cavalier King Charles I. No, he was not named after the dog, though Charles was actually the shortest English king (well, the shortest human adult English king). After his head was chopped off, just down the street from here at Banqueting House, he was considerably shorter. And no it wasn't served at a banquet. Here he is holding a flag or the E.U., which I'm sure is some sort of statement but given that it's King Charles I, I am not entirely sure what. This statue by the way is the not-necessarily-geographic middle of London - all distances from London are measured from this spot. I sketched this while squashed against a wall next to Tesco Metro while a crowd of anti-Robert Mugabe protesters paraded by and hordes of tourists waved selfie-sticks in front of them, a sentence I can safely say I never get to say while sketching in Davis.
I went a bit further north to sketch the Palace Theatre on Cambridge Circus, which is where the new play Harry Potter and The Cursed Child is playing. It's a two-parter, set a couple of decades after Harry's last story. I read the script already, an expensive book, and yes, twenty years later and I can confirm they still don't have internet or mobile phones or anything cool in the Wizarding World. I enjoyed sketching this though. When I was younger Charing Cross Road was my favourite street in London (because of the bookshops and guitar shops). And then afterwards I met with the sketchers back at St.Martin's, and carried on with a bit of sketching the sketchers. What a fun first day back in London!
Big thanks to Jo Dungey and Lis Watkins for organizing! I'll post about the next day's "Sketching Wren's London" sketchcrawl very soon, for that was another super fun day out.
By Pete Scully