Monday, 13 August 2018

South of the river

Making the most of the light summer evenings, we ran evening sketching sessions in June, July and August.  We explored south of the river around Borough and Bankside, finishing with river views of the ever-changing City of London.

In June we met near the Golden Hinde, a replica of Sir Francis Drake’s ship near London Bridge.  We sketched the ship, the area round Southwark Cathedral, and the remains of Winchester Palace, with its fourteenth century rose window, contrasted with modern developments in the area.

The new ‘foodie hub’ of Flat Iron Square was our meeting point in July.  

We drew here, and in the surrounding streets, with small shops, the railway bridge and arches, and views of the Shard.

August found us by further west on the South Bank, meeting at Gabriel’s Wharf.  Some people drew the shops and cafes of Gabriel’s Wharf, others river views towards the Oxo Tower and the City.  All of these areas show the complex layers of London’s history, underpinning the arts and leisure activities now prominent on the South Bank.

We were pleased to welcome many new sketchers to our summer evening sessions, as well as familiar faces.  We hope you will all want to return to sketch and explore London with us.
Photographs by John Webb and Jo Dungey.


Friday, 10 August 2018

The London Mastaba

By Steven Baker

(Jo Dungey writes)  In June this year, London’s Hyde Park acquired a dramatic new feature.  The London Mastaba is a huge sculpture, temporarily installed to float on The Serpentine lake.

Several members of Urban Sketchers London have worked on location in Hyde Park to create works portraying the London Mastaba, which we show here.
By Andrea Deng

The sculpture is the work of Christo and Jeanne Claude, artists known for the creation of huge environmental installations.  These have involved wrapping famous buildings such as the Reichstag in Berlin, and the Pont Neuf in Paris.  They have also created huge interventions in landscape, including Running Fence in California, and Valley Curtain in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado, USA. 
By Lis Watkins

The London Mastaba is made from 7,506 horizontally stacked barrels painted in red, white, blue and mauve.  Historically, a mastaba was a type of flat-topped tomb built in ancient Egypt.  This form was used to create a huge installation which floats on The Serpentine lake.

By Jo Dungey

The nearby Serpentine Gallery is presenting an exhibition: Christo and Jeanne Claude: Barrels and The Mastaba 1958-2018.  The exhibition includes sculptures, drawings, collages, scale models and photographs from the last sixty years of the two artists’ work.
From the exhibition
The exhibition runs until 9 September 2018 and the London Mastaba is installed until 23 September 2018.  Reflections glittering in the Serpentine waters, the London Mastaba is a symbol of London's long, hot summer.  See it if you can.


Sunday, 29 July 2018

We drew at St Katharine Docks

(Jo Dungey writes) What is it about sketchers and the weather? I have never run a sketchcrawl where people did not complain – too cold, too wet, too hot, too uncertain. When on Saturday 28 July 2018, we met to sketch at St Katharine Docks, near Tower Bridge, it was Too Windy. Sketches flew, pencils rolled, water bottles were tossed into the air.

I quite liked that the over-hot air which had hung over London was replaced by a cooler breeze. But I have come to see these complaints as a form of bragging. Each one of us is J M W Turner, lashed to the ship’s mast to paint the storm. We didn’t just paint the marina full of boats, the converted warehouses, the views across the River Thames. We overcame a sea of troubles and still presented an impressive range of sketches, as ever.

We don’t just have sketchbooks to show – each comes with a tale of triumph over adversity.  Congratulations all round.

Wild dogs tore my sketchbook, and it has the bite marks as proof. Did I ever tell you that story?


Let's draw Holland Park and the Design Museum - Saturday 22 September 2018

In September we draw at Holland Park and the Design Museum, off Kensington High Street.  Holland Park offers gardens in different styles including a Japanese garden, more formal gardens, wilder areas, and wandering peacocks.  The park has a range of interesting buildings.  The Design Museum is located in the former Commonwealth Institute, an innovative building redeveloped by OMA and John Pawson.  
The day is free of charge, no need to book, just turn up with your art kit.

Key times and meeting points

11 am: Meet the park side of the beautiful decorated gates of Holland Park (see photograph above), next door to the Design Museum. If raining, meet under cover outside the Design Museum.

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 at the main gates of Holland Park, next door to the Design Museum to look at drawings and take photographs.

3.30 pm Meet again at the main gates of Holland Park to look at drawings and take final group photographs.

Afterwards, 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 - also a good drawing venue: wood-panelled walls and leather arm chairs, real ale.

Options for drawing

The Design Museum is at 224-238 Kensington High Street – see map below.  The Design 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, and the building interior by John Pawson. It displays contemporary design and innovation. There is a temporary exhibition of Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier, so several ballgowns to draw.
Holland Park is set back from Kensington High Street, along a path beside the Design Museum.   At the entrance are the formal Holland Park gates.  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. In the 19th century, Holland House became a hub of political and literary activity, visited by Disraeli and Lord Byron amongst others, but was largely destroyed by bombs during World War Two.
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 cafe, 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.

Practical information

Arrive at High Street Kensington Station on the District and Circle Line.  Leaving the station, turn left on Kensington High Street.  Holland Park and the Design Museum are further along on the other side of the road (just past the Cass Art shop!)  Kensington High Street has many cafes and sandwich shops, and there is a café in Holland Park, open 8.30 am to 5.30 pm.  The Design Museum is free to enter but has a charge for some exhibitions.  There are toilets in the Design Museum and in the park.

The day is run by Nicky Browne and Olga Mackness. The drawing of the Japanese garden in Holland Park is by Olga, and the photographs are by Nicky and Olga.


Friday, 27 July 2018

Urban sketching goes international at the Porto symposium

(Jo Dungey writes) The ninth international Urban Sketchers Symposium was held in Porto, Portugal, from 18 to 21 July 2018.  An estimated 800 sketchers and instructors from 48 countries thronged the streets of Porto and the banks of the River Douro.

The symposium is an annual event which offers workshops, presentations and sketchcrawls.  Most of all, it is a chance to sketch on location and meet others from around the world who also enjoy this.  In 2016 the symposium was in Manchester and in 2017 in Chicago, USA.
James Hobbs: Ferreira Borgese, Porto
Here are sketches of Porto from two of our London correspondents: Lis Watkins and James Hobbs.  Sketches from Porto can be seen on the international website: and on the Facebook page: USk Porto International Symposium.  Sketches are also posted on social media such as Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #UskPorto2018
Lis Watkins: Porto sketchbook

The 2019 symposium will be in Amsterdam from 24 to 27 July 2019.  For the Porto event, tickets were put on sale on line in mid-February.  The symposium has a reputation for tickets selling out quickly.
The Netherlands Urban Sketchers and the international organising committee have taken on a huge challenge – remember that all urban sketchers activities are run entirely by volunteers.  Detailed information about the Amsterdam event is not yet published.  A link at the head of this blog will provide information as it becomes available on the international urban sketchers website.


Thursday, 19 July 2018

Old and New in the City of London - Part 2

The City churches
(Olga Mackness)

Today I am posting three of the City of London Churches - done in different times.
Drawing in the City of London and finding beauty in the contrast between old and new architecture - this is what I call a true happiness.
I have visited some of the City of London churches and  aim to visit as many as possible, sketching, making notes, learning something fascinating every time.

They all on my list and on the map provided by the Friends of the City Churches.
I have met those lovely people during my sketch crawl around the City, near St Paul and surrounding streets. There are volunteers  in almost every church, who mind the building to allow public visiting.
I dedicate this post to them – and hope to join their team one day.
St Mary Somerset built in the twelfth century and re-built by Sir Christopher Wren- now converted into private family home! By the way - so is the Tower of the Christchurch Greyfriars Church (the tower and the garden next to Merryl Lynch office, EC1, King Edward Street). I am yet to draw it, but I have had a chance to visit the flat inside of the tower.

All Hallows-on-the-Wall. It is a guild Church associated with the Worshipful Company of Carpenters. 

I shall be continuing on this topic, with more of the City Churches and to include Sir Nicholas Hawksmoore churches, famous for their mystic symbols, secrets and architectural mysteries.


Tuesday, 26 June 2018

We drew Twickenham - June 2018

Twickenham Riverside: Katy Evans

(Helen Hayhoe writes) We met at 11am on a day of predicted mixed weather. We were delighted to see a number of new people, who were welcomed with the Urban Sketchers' usual warmth.

Café Sunshine provided great coffee, then we set out. People chose boats, the riverside, the rock legend that is Eel Pie Island, the Church Street market and the ‘Naked Ladies’ sculptures to sketch. Plenty of interest there.

Sketching the Oceanids or Naked Ladies statues

The Crazy Naked Ladies: Steven Baker

To wake the soul by tender strokes of art: Gafung Wong

River scene: Gafung Wong

Bertha: Mike Whalley

Apart from a stream of walkers the scene was peaceful and folk brought some wonderful work to the 1pm show and tell. We enjoyed eating lunch and sketching in the street market and pubs.

The group meets at lunchtime

The street market in Church Street was also a great subject for sketching.

Church Street, Twickenham: Jimmy Lu
In the afternoon we feared rain, so most decided to continue sketching locally rather than going down to Marble Hill Park. Some visited the Orleans Gallery exhibition in which work from John Webb and John Swanson was among the collection.
John Swanson
Crane: John Swanson

The 3.30pm throw down revealed the usual high standard, diverse viewpoints and techniques.  People scattered to various watering holes and, bar one lost and found phone, it was the end of a happy day.

Afternoon group photo