Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Let's Draw Sloane Square on Saturday 20th May 2017

Sketch by Evelyn Rowland

This month we meet in Chelsea, focused on Sloane Square. This area is brilliant for elegant period properties. There’s a specially arranged chance to draw inside Holy Trinity Church on Sloane Street. Other cool areas - Eaton Square, King’s Road, of course and Duke of York’s Square, where Saatchi reigns supreme.

The day is free of charge, no need to book, just turn up with your art kit.  *Please use only dry media  inside Holy Trinity church.

Venus Fountain in Sloane Square

Key times and meeting points for the day: Meet by the Venus Fountain in the middle of Sloane Square.

1.00pm for lunchtime photocall by the Venus Fountain again (or if wet, in Holy Trinity Church, Sloane Street).

3.30pm also by the Venus Fountain (or if wet, at Pret A Manger, 35 King’s Road).

We will then meet for post sketch coffee and chat in Pret’s, at 35 King’s Road.

Sloane Square
There are lots of sketching opportunities in this area:

Sloane Square was laid out in the late eighteenth century, and has a fountain and flower stall in the centre. Surrounding buildings include the Royal Court Theatre. The area has lots of elegant period properties.

Holy Trinity Church
Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0
Nicky Browne has booked us a slot in the amazing Arts & Crafts Holy Trinity church in Sloane Street, from 11.00am to 3.00pm for anyone who wants to draw in there. The church’s architect was John Dando Sedding, and the interior includes stained glass by Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris.

Kings Road is one of London’s most fashionable shopping streets.

Duke of York’s Square is a modern pedestrian development with café tables and fashionable shops, and sometimes a farmers’ market

The Saatchi Gallery, Charles Saatchi’s gallery staging contemporary exhibitions is in the Duke of York’s HQ on Duke of York’s Square, open from 10am to 6pm, with free admission.

Nearby Eaton Square is one of the most prestigious addresses in London, and includes St Peter’s church, completed in 1827, designed by Henry Hakewill in the classical style.

Practical information:

The nearest underground station is Sloane Square, one stop from Victoria on the District and Circle lines.

Eating options are many and include: Peter Jones 6th floor café right on the Square, Pret a Manger 35-37 King’s Road, Comptoir Libanais on Duke of York’s Square. The Royal Court Theatre, and Saatchi Gallery also have cafes. There are plenty of loos in Peter Jones.

There’s a rather nice art shop, Green and Stone, at 259 King’s Road.

This day is run by Evelyn Rowland and Nicky Browne. The drawings of the Venus Fountain and St Peter’s church, Eaton Square, are by Evelyn Rowland.

Sketch by Evelyn Rowland


Friday, 14 April 2017


[By John Webb.] I had heard that Simpson's-in-the-Strand, the iconic wood panelled London eatery with its stunning ceiling is closing.  But only for complete refurbishment.  No one could say what will be done design wise but that it will be very different.  A challenge for we Urban Sketchers who like to record reality which includes change.  Simpson's kindly let me in towards the end of the luncheon sitting.

Started in 1828 simply as a smoking room it became in the 1850s a restaurant then also the most important place in Britain for Chess.  P. G. Woodhouse called it ‘a restful temple of food’ and being able to sit in a corner for 2 hours and observe lingering diners – some who came for a look and chat – confirmed that.


Saturday, 8 April 2017

Along New River Walk, Islington

[By James Hobbs.] I've gone back to university recently and my new cycle route down to Clerkenwell takes me across the New River Walk, which just happens to pass across the road where I live further north. It's a long, thin, quiet park with water, ducks and a winding path, and people chatting on their way home through the sunshine. It's the kind of place that is so easily overlooked even if you live in London, let alone if you only come as a tourist for a short time and you get dragged as if magnetically towards the big tourist sites.

My dissertation, which I'll be working on over the summer, will (since you ask) be on sketchbooks in galleries, libraries, archives and museums, and how accessible they are. Let me know if you're a regular visitor of sketchbook collections.

There's more of my work on Flickr.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Battle Bridge Place, King's Cross

Battle Bridge Place, King's Cross

[By John Webb.] I have been making irregular 'taxi' trips to the space between St Pancras - now International - and King's Cross Stations for ten years or more.  It has been fascinating while waiting to enjoy/draw the urban redevelopment.  Some successful some less so.  New alongside refurbished original has been very well done - the modern high rise offices although variegated less so.  There are now good spaces for people, some on roofs, but the structures dominate them.  Good use of street furniture and sub-divided spaces does go some way to humanise the 'square'.


Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Surbiton Station

It was a lovely bright day last Sunday so I decided to walk from Thames Ditton to Surbiton Station to start my journey back to Norwich. I had just spent the weekend visiting my mum to celebrate Mother’s day. This gave me the opportunity to sketch the stark white modernist railway station I had admired for so many years. I had about an hour before I needed to catch my train. I spotted a table outside a pub near the station with a perfect view for sketching.

Surbiton is situated in a southwest suburb of London along the Thames River.  The station is the work of the Southern Railway’s architect James Robb Scott and was renovated in the early 30’s, opening its doors again in 1937. It is constructed of reinforced concrete. In 1998 the station had a refurbishment and it is now a grade II- listed building. It was great to observe the art deco style of curved forms, the long horizontal and vertical lines, which were iconic of that period, along with the beauty and simplicity of the san serif typeface used in the signage. 

Surbiton’s claim to fame, is that it is the station that Professor Dumbledore whisks Harry Potter away from in Harry Potter and the Half- Blood Prince, filmed in late 2007. Not sure my proportions are quite accurate but I managed to capture the essence of it. 


Sunday, 19 March 2017

Let's Draw Alexandra Palace – Saturday 29 April 2017

Join us at the Alexandra Palace, perched high on a hill overlooking north London. Ally Pally's once grand buildings are a little battered these days but still dramatic, the terrace offers panoramic views over London, and the 196 acres of park host all kinds of activities.
Key meeting points for the day:
11am: Meet at the east end of the terrace, outside the BBC studios. It still has the old transmitter mast on top so you can't miss it. There should be enough shelter under the colonnade if it's raining. 

Lakeside cafe
1 pm: Meet to share sketchbooks and experiences down by the boating lake, outside the cafe if it is fine, inside if it is wet. 

3.30 pm: Finish back up at the main building to share sketchbooks and take group photos, on the corner terrace outside the Phoenix pub and restaurant if it is fine, inside if it is wet.

Alexandra Palace was built in 1873, as a place of public entertainment. It opened on Queen Victoria's birthday with great celebrations, but just 16 days later caught fire and burned down. The replacement building, which opened two years later, lasted somewhat longer, but in 1980 it caught fire again; people came out to watch the blaze from vantage points right across north London.
In its day, Ally Pally has served many purposes. An early airship was built and flew from there. In the first world war it was used first as a refugee camp, and then as an internment camp for enemy civilians. Then, in the 1930s, the BBC studios were the site of the world's first regular, high definition, public television broadcasts.
Nowadays most of the building has been repaired, but restoration work is still going on to the Victorian theatre and the original BBC studios. It hosts regular exhibitions and concerts. Our sketchcrawl will coincide with the Country Living Spring Fair, so it will be busy. The Great Hall with its splendid organ will be in use for the event; you won't be able to draw in there without buying a ticket, but if you are tall enough, you can see the organ through the round windows in the external doors!

Things to Draw
The building itself is huge and theatrical, with polychrome brickwork and lots of arches. The surrounding terrace gives long views out across London.
In the grounds you will find a rose garden, a lake with some particularly bonkers boats, a tree top climbing facility, pitch and put, a skate park and children's playgrounds.
The area known as the Grove has an ancient oak and some wooden sculptures.
If it's wet: One of my favourite bits of the Palace is the palm court, just inside the main entrance, with potted palms, pyramids and sphinxes. If we can't go in through the main door because of the event, we should be able to get to the palm court by going through the pub, which has seating in the court.
The Palace is also home to an ice rink, which has spectator seating. This is open to the public. There is a charge of £1.50, but it does include a cup of tea or coffee. I have been assured that they don't mind if we draw the skaters.
The Lakeside cafe has glass sides, so you could hole up there and draw the lake and boats in one direction, the treetop walkway in the other.
There's also a garden centre in the grounds, which has a particularly fine collection of Ali Baba pots; you could draw those under cover.

As well as the Phoenix bar/restaurant in the main building, there are other cafes scattered around the grounds. There's the cafe by the Lake, a good, rather more genteel cafe in the garden centre and a little Italian cafe and sandwich bar in the Grove. There's also a fine Victorian pub opposite Alexandra Palace Station, which I'm told is rather good. There are plenty of toilets.

Alexandra Palace Station (Zone 3) is on the rail line from Moorgate to Letchworth, Hertford and Welwyn Garden City (passing through Highbury and Finsbury Park on the way). It's quite a stiff walk up to the Palace from the Station, but you could always hop on the W3 bus.
The W3 bus runs right through the park, up to the Palace itself, and links it to the tube at Finsbury Park (Victoria Line) and Wood Green (Piccadilly).
This is one of the few London venues where it might make sense to come by car. There are huge car parks (1,500 free parking places, according to the website).

The Alexandra Palace website has lots more information:

The day will be run by Elizabeth Blunt and Daniel Lloyd-Morgan


Sunday, 5 March 2017

Along the Kingston-upon-Thames waterfront

Occasionally I sketch on a saturday morning with a local group on SW London who this week chose the Kingston-upon-Thames waterfront.  Kingston has gone through some remarkable changes in the last decade or two.  One being the walk upstream of the bridge now almost entirely cafe society, with its alley links through to the Market Place.  Leaving aside any social considerations of which the range will be wide it is a successful built regeneration.  Too cold for the traditional view along to the bridge and boats I sat with a coffee or two and painted through the window enjoying (if not achieving accuratly) the framing and perspective.


Thursday, 2 March 2017

A day out at the Barbican

A big thank you to Olga Mackness for organising last week’s sketchcrawl at the Barbican.  There was a fantastic turnout again and I’ve posted a few snaps of some of the sketches below.  If you came along on Saturday, please share your work on the Facebook page or on Flickr, if you haven’t done already, as it is great to see the wide range of styles and subjects.  Also, if you post on Twitter or Instagram, use the hashtag #urbansketchers, so that more people can see your work.

Conservatory view by Daniel
Watercolour by Diane
Sketch by Paul
Sketch by Joe
Watercolour by Dionisa
Acrylic ink study by Philip
Sketch by Helen
Next sketchcrawl is Saturday 25th March in the deep south at the Horniman Museum and Gardens in Forest Hill.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Woodford Bridge

This is the third time I've had a go at this view, today it was at 8.15am, damp and misty with it. This part of town might not be one of the places John Constable frequented, but I'm sure he would have loved it, if he had known.


Tuesday, 7 February 2017

A week or so ago one of my other Saturday interests, Brentford Football Club took me to Fulham.  We had been drawn away against Chelsea in the FA Cup - we lost 4-0 - but  it was an opportunity to go to major stadium and one, as is the current vogue for bigger and better soon to be replaced.  I guess it is progress but seems a little below 'sustainability standards'.  On the other hand it will bring another iconic building to the capital. Part of the ethos of urban sketching being to record change I felt bound to take time for a sketch.....a lot of blue everywhere, even the sky for most of the time.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Let’s draw the Horniman Museum and Gardens - Saturday 25 March 2017

Horniman Museum
Nick Richards

Join us at the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill, South London, which has a wealth of subjects for sketching: the impressive and varied buildings, the museum’s eclectic collections, and all set in 16 acres of gardens.

Key meeting points for the day:
11am: meet inside the main building entrance, near the Navajo sandpainting.
1 pm: meet to share sketchbooks and experiences outside in front of the Conservatory (or if weather is bad, inside the main museum building at the lower ground floor level Gallery Square).
3.30 pm: finish in the same location outside the Conservatory to share sketchbooks and take group photos (inside in Gallery Square if weather is bad).
Horniman Museum
Nick Richards

The Horniman Museum was established by Frederick Horniman, a wealthy Victorian tea trader, traveller and collector. The main building, which was opened to the public in 1901, is an Arts and Crafts Movement building by architect Charles Harrison Townsend, who also designed the Whitechapel Gallery and the Bishopsgate Institute.
The Museum has free admission, although there is a charge for the aquarium (£4 for adults) and some temporary exhibitions. The museum is open from 10.30am to 5.30pm, although the café opens at 9.30 am.

The Walrus
Nick Richards
The Horniman offers lots to draw, both indoors and outside:
* As well as the historic main building with it’s modern extension, there is a modern eco building housing the library, and an ornate conservatory
* The museum’s collections include musical instruments from all over the world, a big natural history collection, and an aquarium
* There are 16 acres of gardens, including a formal sunken garden, a bandstand, unusual trees, and a sundial collection
* There are panoramic views over London from the gardens
* An animal walk (open 12.30 to 4pm) has alpacas, goats, sheep, guinea pigs, rabbits and chickens
* The Horniman hosts a farmers’ market on Saturday mornings, near the bandstand.
Nick Richards

The museum has a café which can get quite crowded. There are other cafes and food shops in the area between the museum and Forest Hill station. It has a shop, a cloakroom and toilets.

Inside the museum there are the usual restrictions on using wet media such as watercolour. They don’t have stools to borrow, so you may want to bring one.

How to get there: the nearest station is Forest Hill, which is on the Overground, and on national rail lines from London Victoria and London Bridge. Further information is available on the Horniman website:

This day is run by Nick Richards with Jo Dungey


Tuesday, 31 January 2017


When Tate Modern opened in 2000, the first artist to display work in the gallery’s vast Turbine Hall was Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010). Work on show included Maman (1999), the largest of her spider sculptures.

The spider has become one of Louise Bourgeois’ most well-known themes. Her parents ran a workshop for tapestry restoration. The title Maman alludes to the strength of her mother, with metaphors of spinning, weaving, nurture and protection.

Urban Sketchers London returned to Tate Modern for our sketchcrawl on Saturday 21 January 2017. Here are some of us in the Turbine Hall, looking at the sketches done that afternoon.

Photo: James Hobbs

Although the largest spider sculpture Tate owns, Maman, is not currently on display, the new Tate Switchhouse has an Artist’s Room devoted to Louise Bourgeois. This includes two other spider sculptures on display, which some of us drew:

Lis Watkins

Jo Dungey
Spider 1 (1994)

Marie Desy-Field
Spider 1995