Monday, 27 January 2014

London's Urban Sketchers at the BBC

Richard Coles: his desk is tidier than it looks

I was invited to BBC Broadcasting House in central London this weekend to take part in Radio 4's Saturday Live, to talk, along with Manchester-based artist Simone Ridyard, about urban sketching and the sketchcrawl phenomenon. Tracey Thorn of Everything But the Girl fame, environmental activist Laurens de Groot and I sat around the table with the presenters Richard Coles and Aasmah Mir for 90 minutes to be gently grilled.

Simone and I spoke with Aasmah about what urban sketching is all about and the joys of drawing together in sketchcrawls. After it had ended (about 15 minutes into the programme if you follow the link below), I stayed on to draw the scene in the studio. One of these drawings, of Tracey and Laurens (although you wouldn't recognise them), is shown on the programme's website as a time-lapse sequence: over in just a minute. It also includes a gallery of images by London's Urban Sketchers.

Behind the scenes

The time flashed by. It was an insight to see the presenters Richard and Aasmah put us guests at ease and keep the atmosphere light — there was lots of lively conversation around the table during prerecorded segments, to the extent you almost forgot when you were on air and when you weren't. At the end we each signed a visitors' book that will be auctioned off in aid of Children in Need, posed for a photograph together and headed back through the new building. A different BBC radio station plays in each lift. On the pavement outside, a group of autograph hunters waited for Tracey.

Listen to the programme here. We're interviewed about 15 minutes in.



  1. I listened with great interest to your interview on Saturday Live a result of which had me hot footing into Cambridge city centre drawing pad and pen in hand and did my first urban sketch. I love it and am hooked. Thank you for your inspiration.

  2. That's great! It was worth it! Let us know if/when you scan them and share them online.

  3. It might amuse you to learn that I've been reading your post over here in New York City, while listening via my laptop to BBC's London Radio.

    I would think that you and your fellow urban sketchers might want to have the Beep arrange an on air session with London Radio. Robert Elms or Joanne Good or any of the gang. Mr Elms, in particular, seems to have a special feeling for the architectural beauty of London and would appreciate what your group continues to encourage.

    Best wishes!


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