Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Let's draw the Design Museum: Saturday 20 November 2021

Drawing by Mike Whalley

In November we draw the Design Musem, off Kensington High Street.

'The world's leading museum devoted to contemporary design in every form.'

[By Jimmy Lu and Helen Hayhoe]

The Design Museum holds permanent and temporary exhibitions and events on various aspects of design and is hosted in a recently renovated Grade II* listed building.Visitors can also sketch nearby Holland Park, which has gardens in different styles, as well as the elegant façades of Kensington High Street.

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

Sketch in Holland Park by James Hobbs

Key times and meeting points

11 AM
Meet at the paved area outside of the main entrance of the Design Museum. The area has outdoor seating and is surrounded by attractive landscaping. The Museum entrance has a canopy that can provide shelter in case of rain.

The Design Museum café is not currently open (this could change), but there is a café in Holland Park, or you could stock up on coffee and sandwiches in the area around High Street Kensington underground station.

1 PM
Meet again at the paved area outside of the Museum entrance to look at drawings and take photographs.

3.30 PM
Meet again outside the Museum entrance to look at drawings and take final group photographs.

We could then go to the Britannia pub a little way down Allen Street, on the opposite side of Kensington High Street, third road on the right. It's also a good drawing venue, with wood-panelled walls, leather armchairs and real ale.

Options for drawing

The Design Museum is at 224-238 Kensington High Street – see map below.

Source: ArchDaily

The Museum is a Grade II* listed building and a landmark building from the 1960s previously housing the Commonwealth Institute. It had stood vacant for over a decade, before the site was redeveloped by OMA (Office for Metropolitan Architecture), and the building interior by John Pawson. It displays contemporary design and innovation. There is a permanent free exhibition, Designer Maker User, and tickets for a new exhibition, Waste: What Can Design Do? can be booked online

Nearby Holland Park is set back from Kensington High Street, along a path beside the Design Museum. The park surrounds a Jacobean mansion, Holland House, named after its second owner, the Earl of Holland, whose wife was the first person in England to successfully grow dahlias. The large park has playing fields, woods and the Kyoto Japanese garden with a waterfall and Koi carp. There are also formal gardens, wandering peacocks, a small café, and toilets. 

Kensington High Street itself has many interesting buildings. The most fascinating drawing opportunities are the buildings in the squares and streets off the high street. 

Photo by Jimmy Lu

Practical information

COVID-19 visit information

No pre-booking is needed to see the free exhibitions. The Museum encourages visitors to wear a face mask and keep social distance.
The Museum café is temporarily closed. All COVID-19 information can be found on the Museum website.

Getting there

The nearest Tube station is High Street Kensington Station on the District and Circle Line. Leaving the station, turn left on Kensington High Street. The Design Museum is further along on the other side of the road (just past the Cass Art shop). 

Other stations within a 15-minutes’ walk include Kensington Olympia (Overground and Southern), Earl’s Court (District and Piccadilly) and Holland Park (Central). There are also many bus routes running along Kensington High Street. Cycle parking is available in front of the Museum. 

The Design Museum is free to enter with no pre-booking for permanent exhibitions. There is however a charge for temporary exhibitions (pre-booking required). There are toilets inside the Design Museum and in Holland Park. All areas of the Museum are accessible by lift. 

The Museum café is closed, but Kensington High Street has many cafés and sandwich shops. 

See you at the Design Museum!

The day is run by Jimmy Lu and Helen Hayhoe.

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Location map


Thursday, 7 October 2021

We drew Pitzhanger Manor - 25 September 2021

(Zane Karklina and Sasala Wickramasinghe write)

Morning sketchers group on the stone benches behind the manor

We're still going strong with the live sketchwalks: third one since pandemic restrictions lifted.

Despite some dreary weather earlier in the morning, we had another great turnout of over 40 sketchers throughout the day.

Again, we welcomed quite a few new sketchers as well as our regulars.

Most of us stayed within Pitzhanger Manor and Walpole Park, and captured the impressive Victorian revival architecture and the grounds from many different angles. 

Sketch by Zane Karklina

Sketch by Patricia Burbridge

Pitzhanger kitchen gardens sketched by Puja 

A few sketchers also captured the exhibits by the New British Sculpture artist Julian Opie:

Sketch by Sarah Minty

Sketch by Helen Hayhoe

And some of us ventured out to draw other places of interest on Ealing Broadway:

Ealing Town Hall by Cynthia Barlow Marrs

The Welsh Presbyterian Church on Ealing Green, by Martin Stone

Everyone gathered for a final group photo on the grounds with Pitzhanger Manor as the backdrop:

Afternoon group behind the Manor

Another successful Urban Sketchers London meeting was rounded off with a drink at the BrewDog pub on Ealing Broadway; and even the sun came out! 

Drink and chat at the Brewdog, sketched by Adam Topor

Our next meeting will be held on Saturday the 16th of October in Woolwich. The theme for October will be Regeneration -- please see the blogpost for more details.

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Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Let's draw new and old Woolwich - Saturday 16 October 2021

Our theme of sketching is regeneration.

We have chosen Woolwich Arsenal as our base for the day.

Saxony demi cannon in front of the Royal Brass Foundry

by Margaret Gorman
Hosts for the day are Margaret Gorman and John Swanson 

The historic military town of Woolwich is a focus for London’s urban renewal plans, described as a key “piece of the jigsaw” for Greenwich Council.

This is on top of the changes already in play, from the development of Woolwich Arsenal and the upcoming opening of the Elizabeth line, the new railway that will pass through central London from Reading in the west, to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east.

As of September 2021, five heritage industrial buildings on the Royal Arsenal have been redeveloped as part of the new performing arts hub Woolwich Works 

All sketches by Margaret Gorman  

The old garrison church gate

Old Town Hall

Getting there

Situated on the riverside with already excellent transportation links, Woolwich is easier to reach than you think. The current station for Woolwich Arsenal is on the DLR, and then trains departing from Waterloo and London Bridge. It can also be reached via bus from North Greenwich on the Jubilee Line.  

And for those who might want to enjoy extra sketching opportunities, the clipper service ends at Woolwich pier and takes you past all the landmarks along the shores of the Thames. It’s more costly than the other forms of public transport and moves quickly, but on a sunny day it’s a great way to get out there. 

The Royal Brass Foundry

The Grand Store 

Food and drink

Food and drink are available in the cafes, pubs and food trucks both in the town centre and across the street in the Arsenal. Public toilets can be found on Beresford Square as well as the cafes.

In case of rain, cover can be found in the nearby cafes and among the buildings. There are some good views of the town from the library, which will be open. For river views, the café at The Yoga Space has space, good coffee and treats.

Other than public transport, there will be no costs for the day. 

On the Thames path

Plan for the day

11 am

We'll meet at the sculpture “Assembly” by Peter Burke on the Royal Arsenal near the pier. It's an eye-catching installation of sixteen life-sized cast iron figures. If you come via the bus or the DLR, cross the street to the riverside and follow the signs to the pier and you won’t miss it. 

1 pm Throwdown

Meet at the entrance of the new Elizabeth line rail station at the Arsenal (will be covered during rain) to share the work for the day.

3 pm Throwdown

Meet in Beresford Square. We will try and find a spot out of the rain if it’s wet outside. 

For anyone who wants to catch up at the end of the day before heading home, we've booked some space for drinks at the Dial Archa restored 18th-century armoury.  

More information 

The Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust has published 'Woolwich History Walks' with simple illustrated maps of two walking trails that cover the Royal Arsenal and wider Woolwich. There's also a Royal Arsenal Timeline

This is the list of all of the developments in Woolwich: 

Royal Arsenal – adding 5,000 new homes to the area
Woolwich Works – new creative quarter
Elizabeth line – part of the new railway by Crossrail Ltd.
Beresford Street crossing & junction improvement – connecting the town to the Arsenal
Woolwich Leisure Centre – new community centre
Spray Street – Another 650 homes plus new retail and public spaces
Woolwich Estates – regeneration of Connaught, Morris Walk, Maryon Road and Grove Estates

And for news of development and debates on housing, transport and retail across southeast London, there's a local blog From the Murky Depths.

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Friday, 3 September 2021

Drawing Attention September 2021

The official zine of the Urban Sketchers organisation

Drawing Attention September 2021

 Open in ISSU

Drawing Attention, the official quarterly zine of the Urban Sketchers organization, communicates and promotes official USk workshops, symposiums, sketchcrawls, news and events; shares news about USk chapters; and educates readers about the practice of on-location sketching.


Tuesday, 31 August 2021

Let's draw Pitzhanger Manor and Walpole Park in Ealing: Saturday 25 September 2021

Sketch by Zane Karklina

(Zane Karklina writes)

The general theme for this month is History. We chose Sir John Soane’s country home Pitzhanger Manor as the base for the day.


Sir John Soane was one of Britain’s most influential architects who, among other things, designed the Bank of England.

Pitzhanger Manor sits in the beautifully landscaped Walpole Park, and the area surrounding the manor is rich with Victorian revival architecture, which will provide many sketching opportunities.


Pitzhanger Manor is under 10 minutes’ walk from Ealing Broadway station, accessed by the Central or District Line. Buses 65, 207 and 607 also stop at Ealing Broadway.   


There are many cafes and restaurants on the surrounding streets as well as Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre. Public toilets can be found in the shopping centre, Walpole Park and Pitzhanger’s 2 cafes - Soane's Kitchen and Pitzhanger Pantry. 


In case of rain, cover can be found in the nearby cafes or the shopping centre. 

Food and drink are available from Pitzhanger's Pantry, a kiosk in Walpole Park open daily from 09.00 until dusk, and from Soanes' Kitchen, a spectacular cafe/restaurant space inside the original walled kitchen garden, normally open Wednesday to Sunday from 09am until 10pm. 

Entrance to Walpole Park is free. Tickets for Pitzhanger Manor are available for purchase on a timed-entry basis at £7.70/£4.95 (or £3.50 if you have a National Art Pass). Details are available on the Pitzhanger Manor website.

Plan for the day

11 am 

Meet at the entrance/in front of Pitzhanger Manor (see photo)


1 pm and 3 pm 

Throwdowns and photos will be on the stone benches located behind the Manor in Walpole Park.

In keeping with our theme of the day, here’s a brief history of Ealing in case it inspires sketchers to venture beyond the Manor and its grounds 

For centuries Ealing lay on the main road from London to Oxford, and travellers could change horses and refresh themselves in many inns along the way, what is now known as Uxbridge Road.

By the end of the nineteenth century, with improved travel in the form of trains, canal boats and horse buses, people could more easily access Central London for work but still live in what was still considered the countryside. Ealing was known as the Queen of the Suburbs!

In 1800 the architect Sir John Soane bought a property to escape from London’s smoke and smells, a space to entertain his guests, and showcase his architectural skills. In 2019, Pitzhanger manor opened its doors after three years of restoration to match Soane’s original design. Fortunately, parts of Soane’s garden were also preserved, now known as Walpole Park behind the Manor.

In 1852 Christ the Saviour Church was designed by Sir Gilbert Scott, inspired by 13th century Gothic style with its ragstone medieval tower. 

In 1888, Charles Jones, the council’s surveyor, designed the impressive Gothic Revival style town hall as a status symbol of the prosperous borough. It also housed a free library and three swimming baths. Jones’ career spanned over 50 years and he was responsible for much of Ealing’s Gothic revival style architecture. 

Opposite the Town Hall is Filmworks Cinema, with a preserved Art Deco facade of the historic Empire cinema that closed in 2008 and still hasn’t reopened. The building of the new Ealing Broadway shopping centre, opened in 1985, however, drastically altered part of the centre of Ealing. 

Ealing's claim to fame was also the film studios which produced the Ealing comedies of the 1950s, including The Lavender Hill Mob.

Ealing Studios opened its doors 1902, making it oldest continuously working studio facility for film production in the world. Over the years it has hosted countless iconic blockbusters and TV shows, comedies and documentary productions, including Dr Who, Monty Python,  Downton Abbey and Bridget Jones, to name a few. Starting life as film studios, they became famous for comedy films in 40s and 50s, then for over thirty years it became the home to BBC TV productions. In its heyday more than 50 film crews used Ealing Studios as their base.

The parish church - Church of St. Mary's - dates back to at least the early twelfth century. It is a 10 min walk down St. Mary’s Road. On the way you can glimpse the University of West London, the former Ealing art school, which celebrates some of its most famous alumni -- Freddie Mercury, Ronnie Wood and Alan Lee.


Thursday, 26 August 2021

We drew Stoke Newington reservoirs - 21 August 2021

Morning sketchers group under the Coal House Café canopy

[Isabel Carmona writes]

It is so good to be out sketching again with other sketchers, welcoming new participants and saying hello to older acquaintances.

I’ve been wanting to come to this oasis of greenery in North East London for a while and finally the day came, with London drizzle and even rain. That didn’t deter us, we found shelter under the canopy of the Coal House Café overlooking the East Reservoir. 

Morning throw down

There are two reservoirs -- the West Reservoir is a venue for water sports, the East is the home of the Woodberry Wetlands. The sketches of the day recorded both areas but most of us stayed overlooking the wetlands where we did the throw down.

A selection of sketches below

Sketch by Zita Kasp

Sketch by Jia You

Sketch by Adam Topor

Morning and afternoon sketches by Martin Stone

Sketch by James Hobbs

Sketch by Fei Yin

Sketch by Alison Gardiner

Sketch by Sufian Ahmed

Afternoon throw down

Afternoon group


Tuesday, 3 August 2021

Let's draw Stoke Newington reservoirs: Saturday 21 August 2021

James Hobbs, Woodberry Wetlands

[James Hobbs and Sasala Wickramasinghe write]

Let's draw Stoke Newington reservoirs: Saturday 21 August 2021

Our general theme for August 2021 is Urban Nature and we’ve chosen the Stoke Newington Reservoirs as our location for the day

For our August gathering we are meeting to draw at the reservoirs at Stoke Newington, a nature reserve and watersports venue within London’s Zone 2 and a short walk from Manor House tube station. The West Reservoir, which was the location of a recent edition of the Sky Landscape Artist of the Year (featuring our own Helen Hayhoe), is a venue for sailing, wild swimming and other water sports. The East Reservoir is the home of Woodberry Wetlands, opened by David Attenborough in 2016, and home to a diverse range of migratory birds. While the reservoirs are a haven for wildlife, it is in an unashamedly urban setting, with new developments along the reservoirs’ north banks, with cafes, pubs and shops close at hand. 

Manor House tube station is on the Piccadilly line, about 15 minutes from King’s Cross. Take Exit 2 from the tube station and walk down Woodberry Down, which is straight ahead. Turning right at Woodberry Grove, or earlier, will bring you to the reservoirs.

Plan for the day


Meet by the water sculpture (above) on the north bank between the two reservoirs. It is beneath the tallest towers close to Lordship Road. 

1pm and 3.30pm

Both throwdowns and the final photo will be by the stepped seating by the water sculpture.

There are cafes and toilets around the reservoirs. 

There are cafes and toilets at the watersports centre by the West Reservoir, and at the East Reservoir. 

The Naturalist pub (with an outdoor seating area) is behind the playground on the West Reservoir, and the Zer coffee and juice bar is up the footpath behind the water sculpture. There’s a supermarket and other shops under the towers on Woodberry Grove.

In the event of bad weather, there isn’t much in the way of shelter, although there is a large awning by the cafe at Woodberry Wetlands on the East Reservoir, with views across the water.

There is more about Woodberry Wetlands nature reserve at this link.