Saturday, 21 April 2018

A quiet garden in the City of London

(Jo Dungey writes) The ruins of St Dunstan’s in the East now stand in a small public garden in the City of London.  The church was severely damaged in the Blitz of 1941.  The Church of England decided not to rebuild it, and it is now a quiet place to sit, midway between London Bridge and the Tower of London, on St Dunstan’s Hill.


Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Let's draw Three Mills Island - Sunday 20 May 2018

The Clock Mill by Martin Stone

Join us to draw in east London at Three Mills Island – meeting on a Sunday this month. Three Mills is a unique site to explore and draw London’s industrial past. House Mill (1776) and Clock Mill (1817) are tidal water mills on the River Lea. Also close by are the Bow Locks, and the area has river and canal-side walks and panoramic views of east London. 

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

The Clock Mill
11am: Meet by the Clock Mill (see photograph above). Bring an umbrella if it is raining (the nearby café does not open until 11am).

1pm: Meet by the Clock Mill to look at drawings done so far. If it is wet, we will meet in the cafe of the adjacent House Mill.

3.30pm: Meet at the same location, by Clock Mill (or the House Mill café if wet) to look at drawings we have done and take group photographs.

After this, we will go to The Galvanisers Union pub, 2 Devas Street (near Bromley-by-Bow Underground station) for refreshments, chat and sketchbook sharing.

If we have bad weather: Three Mills Island has very little indoor or covered locations if the weather is wet. There is limited scope to draw from the café or from under nearby bridges. Guided tours of the House Mill are available, at £4. If the weather is wet, we will meet at Three Mills Island, as described here, from 11am to 1pm. If the afternoon is very wet, we may decide to move to the Museum of Childhood, in nearby Bethnal Green. We will decide this on the day at the 1pm meet-up.

Options for drawing

The historic House Mill, Clock Mill and Customs House

Three Mills Island by Steven Baker
Buildings in the surrounding area, including the Three Mills film studio exterior, the ornate Abbey Mills Pumping Mill (1865), modern housing and development sites, and buildings, some derelict, of the industrial past

Victorian gasometers of the Bromley-by-Bow gasworks (built 1870 to 1873)

Canals and rivers with lock gates, boats, bridges and waterside walks

Three Mills Green with landscaping, public art and canalside seating

Views towards the London Olympic Park including the Anish Kapoor ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture.


There have been watermills on this part of the River Lea since the eleventh century – the Doomsday Book of 1086 records eight mills. The River Lea flows into the Thames and is part of the same tidal system; tidal mills use the flow of water to power the grinding of wheat into flour, and other purposes. The name ‘Three Mills’ was in use by the twelfth century; the mills ground and sold bread flour to local bakers. Grain was brought to the mills by carts or by barge from farms in Suffolk, Essex and Hertfordshire. Standing by the mills, you can see the tramways in the ground used by the grain carts.

The House Mill we see today was built in 1776; the Miller’s House adjoining it was rebuilt in the 1990’s to the original 1763 design after damage from Second World War bombing. The Clock Mill was built in 1817, replacing a timber-built mill. The clocktower is retained from the 1750s; the clock and bell summoned the local people to work at the mills. These two mills have waterwheels under the buildings which would have driven the millstones. The buildings with conical roofs were used to dry grain.

In the eighteenth century, gin making developed here, using grain from the mills. What is now Three Mills film studio was a big distillery and bottling plant, making gin and bottling beer, sherry, wine and spirits. The Customs House next to the House Mill supervised the taxation of alcohol sales.

Many industries developed in the Stratford and West Ham area which used the canals and rivers for transport. For example, in records of 1832, the main goods being transported were coal, malt, grain, flour and gunpowder. Abbey Mills Pumping Station was designed in 1865 by Joseph Bazalgette, as part of the improvement of sewerage in London.

The House Mill was grinding grain until 1940, the Clock Mill until 1951. This is now a Conservation Area and the House Mills Trust plans to restore the mill to working order. At present, the remaining milling equipment and the watermills can be seen by taking a tour of the House Mill, which is kept open by volunteers, as detailed on the Trust’s website.

Practical information

The nearest Underground station is Bromley-by-Bow (District Line, and Hammersmith and City Line). The bus routes 488 and D8 also stop here. Leaving the Underground station, you face a view of dereliction, but don’t worry, it gets better. Turn left into the underpass under the busy A12, following the signs to Three Mills Lane. Follow Three Mills Lane passing around the left of a large Tesco store. Ahead you will see the Clock Mill on the other side of the canal.

There are limited facilities for food and drink at this location, so you could choose to bring something. Next to the House Mill is a small café run by volunteers (open 11am to 4pm). There is a pub, The Galvanisers Union on Devas Street near Bromley-by-Bow Underground station which offers Sunday roast lunches and drinks (open 12 noon to 10pm). Nearby is a Sainsbury’s Local shop (open 7am to 11pm) and there is a big Tesco (open 12 noon to 6pm) between the Underground station and Three Mills Island which also has take-away coffee at its petrol station. There are toilets at Tesco, one at the House Mill café (for customers), and at the pub.

This day is run by Martin Stone and Steven Baker. Photographs by Steven Baker, drawings by Martin Stone and Steven Baker.


Monday, 2 April 2018

Outside London's Facebook HQ

Facebook HQ, Rathbone Square, London

[By James Hobbs] I've been drawing the London offices of some of the companies involved with misusing our data to help bring about the rise of Donald Trump and the UK's departure from the European Union. You can find it here, on my blog.

The London's Urban Sketchers Facebook page, I should add, can be found here.


Sunday, 18 March 2018

Interesting...Urban Sketchers in The Guardian

From the 'In Pictures' section of The Guardian web site:
The artist capturing urban clutter
[John Webb]

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

We Drew Leadenhall Market 10 March 2018

Sketch by Hannah Lee Miller

We met at the start of the day inside Leadenhall Market near the Lamb Tavern (which was a popular spot for some of our group to enjoy refreshments as they sketched). There were building works happening in the market and a nearby street was closed due to the filming of the Pokemon movie but this didn’t prevent our group from finding plenty of things to sketch.

Sketch by Joe Bean

Sketch by Gafung Wong

The weather was better than forecast, and many people sketched outside, although lots of sketchers opted to draw the wonderful interiors of the Market, including the silver dragons, which are a feature here and throughout the City.

Sketch by Dolores Kitchener

The nearby Lloyds and Leadenhall Buildings gave some sketchers an opportunity to contrast the old and new architecture, with others sketching the nearby churches of Great St Helen’s and St Dunstan in the East.

We met again inside the market at lunchtime to share our work from the morning and as always, it was interesting to see the wide range of styles and subjects.

We ended the day by sharing the rest of our sketches and taking a second group photo. Many sketchers commented that this place is worth coming back for more, since it would take longer than one day to really do this interesting area justice with our drawings.

Thank you to everyone who came along and we look forward to seeing you again, and welcoming more new faces at our next sketchcrawl on 28 April in Walthamstow.

Blog Post by Olga Mackness

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Let's draw Walthamstow - Saturday 28 April 2018

The Woodpecker Tapestry by William Morris (1885)
Part of the permanent collection of the William Morris Gallery in Lloyd Park, Walthamstow. 

In April we’ll be drawing in Walthamstow, one of London's historic villages. It got a mention in the Domesday Book, and still retains some interesting old buildings.

St Mary's churchyard
There are two main centres of interest in Walthamstow. The Old Village is to the east of the station. There's the medieval church of St Mary's, with a suitably spooky churchyard, a picturesque row of almshouses, the half-timbered 'Ancient House' and the Vestry House museum (free admission). This has an interesting local collection and would be a useful bolthole on a wet day.

The Ancient House
Vestry House Museum
To the north, along Forest Road, are some more modern landmarks. William Morris House, a Grade II* listed building, was Morris's family home from 1848 to 1856. It's now a gallery (also free admission) devoted to his work and that of his fellow Pre-Raphaelites.

William Morris House - front
Behind the gallery is Lloyd Park. The medieval house which once stood there has vanished, but you can still see its moat.
William Morris House - back
The moat of Lloyd Park
And just along the road is the absolutely humungous art deco town hall; you may have spotted it in movies about Hitler or Mussolini, since it makes a perfect backdrop for fascist rallies.

Walthamstow town hall
If you want to wander a bit further, Walthamstow High Street is the longest street market in Europe. And just east of the Old Village is God's Own Junkyard, under cover and specialising in vintage neon. It says it has a cafe. I haven't been there myself, but it comes recommended and looks amazing.

Key times and meeting points for the day:

11am We will meet outside Walthamstow Central station (Victoria Line, linked by footpath to Walthamstow Queens Road on the Overground). Then sketchers can head off in whichever direction they fancy.

1pm The lunchtime meetup will be at the back of the William Morris House, where there is a good flight of steps for photos. There are also two cafes, one in the house itself and the other in Lloyd Park, behind William Morris House. The park cafe has one the most impressive selections of ice cream I have seen in London. Both have a good range of light lunch options.

3.30pm We finish outside the Vestry House Museum, to compare our work and take a final photo before adjourning to a nearby café or pub.

The day is run by Elizabeth Blunt and Philip Stones.


Sunday, 25 February 2018

We drew Tate Britain - 24 February 2018

Lovely capture of the group at the end of the day from Cynthia

So lovely to see such a good turnout for the February sketchcrawl, based in and around Tate Britain. We had people travelling from Hampshire and Birmingham in the UK to join us and even two European visitors from USk Netherlands and USk Rome!  

Lots of great sketchbook drawings from both inside and out, some of which feature below. Lots more on the Facebook page -

Next meet up is at Leadenhalll Market on Saturday 10th March -

People sketched by Paul

Rossana from USk Rome

This lively sketch by Kat

Architectural study by Gavin

The beautiful architecture in the Members Room sketched by Marie

Window view watercolour by Daniel

Simon braved the cold for this lovely pen sketch

Henry Moore sculptors were a popular subject. This sketchbook drawing by Gaynor

Urban Sketchers at work in the Members Room in Tate Britain  

Sangeeta at work in the Members Room


Saturday, 17 February 2018

USk Porto Symposium Registration

A quick reminder that registration for the 2018 USk Symposium in Porto, Portugal opens at 3pm Saturday 17th February! 


Thursday, 1 February 2018

Science Museum LATES

[By John Webb] New Year, new pens, new experience. Went with Sketchmob to the Science Museum LATES. What an experience. The Museum closes then reopens at 6:45. When I arrived at 6:30there was a huge long queue down Exhibition Road. But the arrangements were so efficient we were all in by 7:00 and set off to sketch but first visiting one of the many 'restaurants' around the galleries along with bars, live music and interactive staffed demonstrations. I gather the other museums do similar things scheduling their LATES so as not to clash.

Great places to sketch in the warm, dry and with masses of people.
I went for a view downwards into the Broadcast Gallery trying out my new Tombow Brush pens - brush one end pen the other. A whole new technique and one which will take some mastering. I've seen so many other London Urban Sketchers use them. One has to keep up...


Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Let's Draw Leadenhall Market – Saturday 10 March 2018

In March we will spend a day drawing in and around Leadenhall Market in the City of London. The area offers contrasts between the Victorian market building and the modern financial district. It is also near historic churches and the garden of St Dunstan-in-the-East.

Leadenhall Market

Key times and meeting points for the day:
11am: Meet in the main entrance of Leadenhall Market on Gracechurch Street
1pm: Meet again in the Gracechurch Street entrance to look at drawings done in the morning.
3.30pm: Meet in the Gracechurch Street entrance to review the day’s drawings and take group photographs.
We could continue to meet and talk in a nearby pub, The Crosse Keys on Gracechurch Street.

Options for drawing

There is a great mix of old and new architecture in this area. Options for drawing include:
Leadenhall market: There has been a market here since the fourteenth century. The building we see today is a Victorian market building designed in 1881, by Sir Horace Jones, Architect and Surveyor of the city of London from 1864-1887, who also designed Billingsgate Fish Market, Smithfield Market and Tower Bridge. The covered market now has shops, bars and cafes although many will be closed on Saturdays.
As the main financial district, some of the modern buildings which now dominate the City of London skyline are in this area:
· the famous Lloyds of London building , known as the Inside-Out Building, architect Richard Rogers

30 St Mary Axe - The Gherkin

· 30 St Mary Axe -The Gherkin - designed by Norman Foster, is very short walk away

The Leadenhall Building - The Cheesegrater

· the Leadenhall Building - the Cheesegrater - also designed by Rogers, Stirk, Harbour and Partners
· 20 Fenchurch Street - the Walkie Talkie - architect Rafael Vinoly, looms over the area.
There are also others which are under construction in the area.
Amid the contemporary office buildings can be found some much older buildings including several churches which pre-date the Great Fire of London of 1666:
· St Andrew Undershaft, on St Mary Axe near the Gerkin, was constructed in 1532 but is under scaffolding at the moment
· St Helen’s Bishopsgate, shown in Olga’s watercolour, on Great St Helen’s off Bishopsgate, dates from the twelfth century, and is unusual in being designed with two parallel naves

St Ethelburga

· St Ethelburga, 78 Bishopsgate, was largely destroyed by IRA bombing in 1993; reconstructed, it reopened as a Centre for Reconciliation and Peace

St Katherine Cree

· St Katherine Cree, 86 Leadenhall Street, was built in 1628-30
· St Botolph without Bishopsgate is an eighteenth century church with a small garden.
Also, St Dunstan-in-the-East , (St Dunstan Hill, EC3R 5DD) - Church and garden, hidden gem of the City of London, with a beautiful set of stone stairs and the grounds one of Sir Christopher Wren's churches. Damaged in 1941 the Church has been made into public gardens.
If the weather is wet, we will have an opportunity to draw inside the market, which is under cover. There is also a covered area at the base of the Leadenhall Building (the Cheesegrater), and there are many cafés around Monument and the southern end of Gracechurch Street to find shelter.


Leadenhall Market is one of the oldest market sites in the City of London. It has been a market since the 14th century. Popular with merchants for centuries, Leadenhall Market survived the Great Fire of London and many re-building works. The original façade of the market can be seen at the north west entrance. The current market building was created in the late nineteenth century.
Leadenhall Market is a popular filming location and can be seen in many movies including: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus; Hearafter; and Love Aaj Kal. Part of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (the first film in the blockbuster series) was filmed in Leadenhall in 2000/2001. The market was used to represent the area of London leading to the popular wizarding pub The Leaky Cauldron and magical shopping street Diagon Alley. The pop group Erasure also filmed their music video for Love to Hate You in the market in 1991.

Practical information

Leadenhall Market is roofed but not heated, so dress warmly. There is some seating in the market, but drawing elsewhere, it would be useful to have a portable stool. Leadenhall Market can be found in the heart of the City of London, at Gracechurch Street, London EC3V 1LT. Public areas of the market are generally open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, although the shop and restaurant opening times vary, with most in the immediate vicinity closed at weekends. There is more information on the Leadenhall Market official site:
Leadenhall Market is near several underground stations– Bank, Monument, Aldgate, and railway stations – Cannon Street, Fenchurch Street, Liverpool Street. Nearby bus routes are 25, 48, 35 and 40.
The suggested pub for meeting after the sketchcrawl is The Crosse Keys on Gracechurch Street:
This pub is also part of the City of London Community Toilet Scheme, which means members of the public have free access to their toilets whether or not they are a customer.
There are other cafes and pubs in the area, although some are closed at weekends. The best areas to find cafes are around the Monument or in and around Liverpool Street Station.

This day is run by Olga Mackness and Cathryn Worrell


Saturday, 27 January 2018

Sketching the Wellcome Collection

[From Julie Bolus] I had a great time sketching at the Wellcome Collection museum last Saturday and catching up with Urban Sketching friends I hadn’t seen for a while. 

It was my first time to experience this fantastic collection of medical curios on display and especially in The Ayurvedic Man: Encounters with Indian Medicine exhibition. 

I was initially drawn to sketching and appreciating the aesthetics of a wide range of medical instruments like obstetrical forceps and amputation saws on display.


My favourite sketch of the day though was the one below of a human body with all its internal organs beautifully carved from wood. It reminded me of the game Operation I used to play as a child.


Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Let’s draw at Tate Britain - Saturday 24 February 2018

Sketch by Lis Watkins

Join us in February at Tate Britain in Pimlico, the home of the national collection of British art from 1500 to the present day. Explore the collection, the building inside and out, and the surrounding area. Draw inspiration from artists who have represented London, including Turner, Sickert, Passmore, and French artists in exile. The day is free of charge, no need to book, just turn up with your art kit.

This sketch crawl replaces the proposed meet-up at Westfield Shopping Centre included in our published 2018 programme.

Key times and meeting points for the day:

11am: Meet at Tate Britain, just inside the Manton entrance (see photograph below). The Manton entrance is the modern entrance at the side of the building on Atterbury Street. (The entrance at the front of the building up the steps is the Millbank entrance.)

The Manton Entrance

1pm: Meet in the foyer inside the Manton entrance to look at drawings done so far.

3.30pm: Meet again in the foyer inside the Manton entrance to look at drawings done and take group photographs.

We could then go to Tate Britain’s Djanogly Café for chat and refreshments, or there are several pubs in the area.

Tate Britain is open from 10 am until 6pm.

Admission to Tate Britain’s permanent collection is free. Tickets or membership are required for temporary exhibitions. There are restrictions on art materials which can be used inside the galleries – more information below.

The front of the Tate Britain
Options for drawing include:
· The building interiors and exterior

Sculpture by Henry Moore
· The permanent collection of paintings, drawings, sculpture and installations, including works by artists who have portrayed London

J. M. W. Turner’s sketchbook

· The current temporary exhibition ‘Impressionists in London’ (ticket or membership required) which shows works painted in London, including many location views, by French artists in exile and escaping the Franco-Prussian war

Chelsea School of Art
· Next to Tate Britain, the Chelsea Art School
· Across the river, the famous MI6 building, and Vauxhall Bridge
· There are riverside walks on both sides of the River Thames and west of Vauxhall Bridge you can see extensive new development, including the new USA embassy – but ‘in an off neighbourhood’ according to Donald Trump!

The new USA embassy from the riverside walk


Tate Britain is the original Tate Gallery, opened in 1897. It now houses the British national collection of art from 1500 to the present day. The original building was designed by Sidney R. J. Smith, the Clore Gallery which houses the Turner Collection is by James Stirling, and there have been recent developments by architects Caruso St John.

Clore Gallery
Practical information

Admission to Tate Britain is free of charge for the building and permanent collection, with a ticket or membership needed for the ‘Impressionists in London’ exhibition.
The nearest underground station is Pimlico on the Victoria Line, and there are several nearby bus routes; more information is on the Tate website (link below).
Tate Britain has a café and restaurant, cloakroom, toilets, stools and a shop.
In the galleries, permitted art materials are: dry materials such as pencils, graphite sticks, fine-tipped pens, wax crayons, conte and charcoal pencils (must be wood or plastic encased), oil pastels encased in paper. Loose dry materials such as charcoal and soft pastels, and paints are not allowed.

The day is run by Lis Watkins and Homephoenix Wong