Monday, 14 October 2019

Let's draw at the Natural History Museum - Saturday 14 December 2019

Join us in December to draw at the Natural History Museum in South Kensington.  This spectacular Victorian building was designed by Alfred Waterhouse and has ornate terracotta facades inside and out.  A sculpture of Charles Darwin presides over the main hall, which now features a skeleton of the blue whale.  The collections include 80 million specimens including wildlife and geology in an extraordinary “cathedral of nature”.   In December the museum's front garden is transformed into a magical outdoor ice rink.

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

Safety: Please be mindful of the safety of yourself, other sketchers and passers-by.  Be careful about your possessions when you are sketching and in crowded places.

Key times and meeting points for the day

11am: Meet at the Exhibition Road entrance, outside if the weather is fine, inside if wet (allowing time for bag search)

1pm: Meet inside the Exhibition Road entrance to look at drawings done so far.  The meeting point is the area to the RIGHT of the door by the CLOAKROOM

3.30pm: Meet inside the Exhibition Road entrance to look at drawings done and take group photographs.

Note that we are meeting inside the Exhibition Road entrance, not the main entrance on Cromwell Road.  This is the less busy entrance, as there is often a long queue at the main entrance.  There is a bag search, so do not include sharp tools such as craft knives or scissors in your art kit.

Although we meet up at the less busy entrance in Exhibition Road, for sketchers the main entrance in Cromwell Road is a masterpiece of decoration and not to be missed.

About the Natural History Museum

The Museum was opened in 1881 as a department of the British Museum. It was to be built by Francis Fowke who designed the Royal Albert Hall, but he died shortly after receiving the commission, and the young architect Alfred Waterhouse took over.

He redesigned the building and based it on German Romanesque buildings. The result is a Victorian Romanesque extravaganza, with rounded arches and ornate columns. Light is introduced by the use of iron and glass. Waterhouse included sculptures, decorations, tiles and details that all relate to natural history. There are gargoyles on the outside, owls and other birds on the capitals, animals peeping out of foliage, and many other extraordinary details - apart from the exhibits. He used a French sculptor, Dujardin to realise his designs, which were then cast in terracotta by Gibbs and Canning, a sanitary-pipe factory in Staffordshire.

Some stunning extra details are the 162 hand-painted panels of botanical species on the ceiling of the main hall.

Options for drawing

In summary, the building itself is a masterpiece of Victorian architecture housing millions of exhibits.

In front of the building, the skating rink will be open for the very hardy sketchers and on the day of our visit The Penguin Skate Club will be giving lessons to 4 - 8 year olds.

Inside the museum, the collections are organised into four zones.  There is an easily downloadable map on the website. 

  • The Blue Zone with dinosaurs, mammals, fish and reptiles is likely to be the busiest area. 
  • The Green Zone includes the spectacular Hintze Hall displaying the Blue Whale skeleton, and also has birds and creepy crawlies. 
  • The Red Zone includes geological exhibits, and on the top floor an earthquake simulator!
  • The Orange Zone is mainly outside, including a Wildlife Garden and the Darwin Centre.

Practical information

The nearest underground station is South Kensington, on the District and Circle lines.  The Natural History Museum is at the junction of Cromwell Road and Exhibition Road, London SW7 5BD.  Note that we are meeting at the entrance on Exhibition Road, not the main entrance on Cromwell Road. 

The Natural History Museum is open from 10 am to 5.50 pm, and has free admission, apart from some special exhibitions.  Inside the Museum, there are restrictions on what art materials can be used, so bring dry materials such as pencils.  There are some portable stools available.  The Natural History Museum has a cloakroom, cafes, gift shops, and toilets.  The area between the underground station and the Museum has a range of shops and cafes. 

This day is run by Nicky Browne and Elizabeth Blunt.  The drawing of the Blue Whale in the Hintze Hall is by Kenneth Chin of USK Singapore, and the sketches of antelope and birds are by Elizabeth Blunt.


Monday, 7 October 2019

We Drew London Guildhall
(Olga Mackness writes)

On the 5th of October 2019 we have met at London Guildhall to draw this wonderful building and many others in the area.
As we were getting ready at 11.00 am and Katy Evans and I were doing introduction speeches -  a carriage appeared from the "backstage". It was as if we were back in time watching some noble person to arrive. However the carriage has been pulled by landrower car and few men.

The timing was perfect and I think it was one of the most spectacular openings of the Urban Sketchers London meetings.
Sketch credit to Cal Hoy. Beautiful object to draw. Lord Major's carriage, in the museum hall.
In the morning all went exploring the area - finding many different architecture styles to draw. Many concentrated by the Guildhall - producing many lovely sketches.
 Zane's chosen Bank of England
One of the sketchers drawing - watercolour was popular choice of medium on the day.
The weather was not too cold, not too windy, streets were not too crowded - it was possible to get comfortable and get on with the work.
Guildhall by Monica Phillips.
In the afternoon we have had a group picture taken by St Lawrence Jewry Church.
Pictures show time in the afternoon - photo credit to Zane Karklina
Later in the afternoon everyone enjoyed more sketching, - St Mary Le Bow, St Paul's Cathedral, nearby streets and some panoramic scenery -
Sketch by Martin Stone - roof of One New Change building
Just before we were ready to take 3.30 pm pictures, getting together by the Guildhall - the wedding party came out of the Church. They also wanted to have their photos done near Guildhall. It was a treat to see bride and groom, and the large party, all dressed up, looking happy.

The day felt like a treat, like a party and like a holiday at the same time.
Hope you all enjoyed it.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Let's draw the British Library - Saturday 2nd November

Drawing by Sangeeta Bhagawati
Join us in November to sketch the British Library and the Francis Crick Institute. The day is free to attend, just turn up with your drawing supplies and sketchbooks.

The main foyer at the British Library
PLEASE NOTE : The British Library are happy for us to draw there but have specified that ‘the only thing we would ask is that you are all mindful of other people and you are not setting up ‘large’ bulky easel stands.

Key times and meeting point

11 am – We’ll meet in the main foyer just inside the main front doors - see photo above.
1 pm – We’ll meet in the main foyer just inside the main front doors to look at drawings so far
3.30 pm – We’ll meet in the main foyer just inside the main front doors to look at the drawings from the day and take a group photo. For those who want to stay and chat further we can go to one of the nearby coffee shops or pubs.

The many levels at the British Library

What to draw

The British Library's St Pancras building - a grade I listed largest public building constructed in the UK in the 20th century - is a delight for any artist to sketch. It's a busy hub for students, researchers and readers and it has many significant things to draw - in the middle of the building is a six-storey glass tower containing the King’s Library, with 65,000 printed volumes collected by King George III and given to the nation; very spacious and visually pleasing atrium and piazza, reading rooms in different floors if one has a reading pass (free registration to get a pass); British Library extension - Centre for Conservation; Entry gate designed by Lida and David Kindersley; large sculptures by Eduardo Paolozzi (a bronze statue based on William Blake’s study of Isaac Newton) and Antony Gormley; regular exhibitions (which are ticketed).

One of the outside terraces 

The Francis Crick Institute

The Francis Crick Institute is ‘a biomedical discovery institute researching the biology underlying human health.’ The building itself is large, with an interesting design and they have a small café and exhibition area which is open to the public.

The outside of the British Library

Practical information

Facilities include cloak and luggage room, shops, toilets on each floor, free Wi-Fi, cafes (3 inside the building and 1 in the piazza) and a restaurant (on the 1st floor).

Good public transport connections with St. Pancras and Kings Cross stations nearby, both having National Rail, Underground and bus connections.

The address of the British Library is 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB

The day is run by Sangeeta Bhagawati and Lis Watkins


Friday, 27 September 2019

Let's draw in Cambridge - Saturday 26 October 2019

This is an addition to our programme – a visit to Cambridge.  We have been invited by Urban Sketchers Cambridge to sketch with them.  There will be opportunities to draw the buildings of historic Cambridge, in particular those on King’s Parade in the city centre.  We will also visit and draw at the Fitzwilliam Museum, one of the UK’s major museums. 
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:
12 noon: Meet in front of the entrance to King’s College, on King’s Parade, Cambridge CB2 1ST - see photograph above. 
3 pm: Meet at the Courtyard Entrance of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1RB to look at sketches done and take group photographs.  The Courtyard Entrance is on the left hand side of the building; it is the wheelchair accessible entrance, not the Main Entrance up the steps – see photograph below.

There will be an opportunity to walk and sketch as a group from King’s Parade to the Fitzwilliam Museum on Trumpington Street.  We can adapt the outdoor and indoor sketching programme according to the weather as well as individual choice.
After the 3pm meet-up, we can join the members of Urban Sketchers Cambridge at the Granta Café in Mill Lane.
Options for drawing:
We will meet at King’s Parade in the centre of Cambridge.  King’s College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Cambridge.  It was founded in 1441 by King Henry VI.  We can sketch the exterior, not inside the college.  There are many historic buildings in this area.

The Fitzwilliam Museum (below) is a major museum with collections including art, artefacts from Egypt, Greece, Rome and the ancient near east, ceramics and textiles.  It has free admission. 

Practical information:
There are various train services to Cambridge.  From London Kings Cross to Cambridge, for example, takes about an hour.  From Cambridge rail station to King's Parade is about a twenty-minute walk.  There are also buses to the city centre from the station, and taxis.  The Visit Cambridge website has travel information. 
King’s Parade is in the centre of Cambridge and there are many shops, pubs and cafes.  The nearby Market Place is an option to buy food.  There is a café at the museum.  The museum has free admission (other than for some special exhibitions).  Remember the museum is unlikely to allow the use of wet materials such as watercolour, inside the building.

This event is run by Yasemin Gyford of Urban Sketchers Cambridge and Jo Dungey of Urban Sketchers London. 


Monday, 16 September 2019

We drew at Trinity Buoy Wharf

We had a great day sketching at Trinity Buoy Wharf on Sunday 15 September.  This is the location of London's only lighthouse, which was a popular subject for sketches, as was the bright red lightship.  Others drew the colourful container buildings and artists' studios.  The Wharf offers dramatic views of the river, across to the O2 (Millennium Dome), to Canary Wharf and to the east.  Some great panoramic views were produced.  London is always changing, and it was interesting to portray scenes which are not the traditional postcard views of the city.
Photographs are by Gafung Wong and Jo Dungey, who ran the day.  Our next sketchcrawl is on Saturday 5 October 2019, when we will be drawing the City of London, meeting by the Guildhall.  Scroll down this blog for information.


Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Let's draw the City of London - Saturday 5 October 2019

In October we meet to draw in the City of London, a location combining old and new architecture in different styles.   We can draw some of the major City buildings: the Mansion House, the Bank of England, and nearby modern buildings such as No 1 Poultry.  There will be a chance to sketch outside and inside the Guildhall Museum and Art Gallery, the Guildhall Great Hall and Guildhall Yard.  In the same area there are fine examples of Wren’s architecture:  St Lawrence Jewry, St Stephen Walbrook and St Mary-le-Bow.  
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:
11am: Meet in front of the Guildhall (see photograph above).  There is a spacious square, Guildhall Yard, in front of the Guildhall, and some shelter if the weather is wet. 
1pm: Meet again in front of the Guildhall to look at sketches done so far and take group photographs.
3.30pm: Meet again at the same place to look at sketches done, and take group photographs. We can meet inside the Guildhall Art Gallery if the weather is bad. 
If people wish to go for drinks afterwards, the suggested pub is Ye Olde Watling at 29 Watling Street.

Options for drawing: 
The beautiful Guildhall Great Hall, the City’s only surviving secular medieval building dates from 1411.    The adjacent Guildhall Museum and Art Gallery offers free admission and indoor sketching opportunities, opening hours 10am to 5pm.  The Guildhall stands on the remains of London’s only Roman amphitheatre, which can be seen at the lower level of the Art Gallery. 
Across the Guildhall Yard is St Lawrence Jewry, an elegant church re-built using the drawings of Sir Christopher Wren after being damaged during World War Two.

Other Wren churches in the area include St Stephen Walbrook (below), St Mary Le Bow and St Mary Aldermary.  

We will be at the heart of the City, and some of the major buildings including the Mansion House (below) and the Royal Exchange (scaffolded: draw it anyway!).

The Bank of England was originally designed by Sir John Soane in 1788, and his statue can be seen in a niche at the side of the building.  The building has been much altered since it was first built.

A prominent modern building is No 1 Poultry, architect James Stirling.

There are many other options and views, including small shops, pubs, seating areas and small city gardens.
Practical information:
The nearest underground stations are Bank (Northern and Central lines) and St Paul’s (Central line).
Although some City cafes and pubs are closed at the weekend, there are still plenty of options for food and drinks.  Cafes and small supermarkets include the One New Change shopping centre near Cheapside open 10am-6pm.  There are toilets in cafes and in the museum. 
The day is run by Olga Mackness and Katy Evans.  The watercolour of the Guildhall is by Katy Evans, photographs are by Olga Mackness, Katy Evans and Jo Dungey.


Tuesday, 20 August 2019

A summer evening near Tower Bridge

We met on Wednesday 7 August 2019 for an evening of sketching by the river.  It was good to be joined by so many people, including visitors to London as well as people who sketch with us regularly.  Many people tackled the challenge of drawing the changing city skyline.  Others drew passers by at this busy tourist spot, as well as the historic landmarks in this area.

The evening was run by Lis Watkins and Jo Dungey.