Tuesday 5 May 2015

Top Marx All Round!

Today is apparently Karl Marx's birthday (born 1818), so I thought I would post some sketches from my recent visit to Highgate Cemetery, where he is famously interred.

Above is his monument, normally where all the visitors flock to, although only a few came to take photos while I was sat here drawing, probably due to it being a very cold and blustery day despite the sun. He, of course, isn't buried here, but rather somewhere more discreet, further down the hill, beneath a very modest and plain headstone, beside his wife, amongst hundreds of identical headstones, as befits a man who preached equality - he in fact specifically requested that there be no monuments erected to him upon his death. As you can see, his wishes were ignored.

Actually, I hadn't gone to see Marx myself, but Douglas Adams, author of "A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" which I'd just finished reading. I was reading it because several months previously I'd visited Highgate Cemetery for the first time and saw his grave and thought "Ah, I have his book on my shelf at home, I must re-read it!". I'd been a big fan of his books when I was a teenager but couldn't remember much about them, so reacquainting myself with his unique and hilarious style of writing was a real pleasure. 

I've since moved into the Highgate area, and it's now just a short walk for me across the beautiful Waterlow Park to reach the cemetery, so upon finishing the book, I decided to pay him a return visit to thank him for his literary gifts to the world. He characteristically said nothing, of course, owing to the fact that he's dead, but I took his silence to mean that he understood my reasons for being there, that he was pleased and humbled, and that really he had a much better spot than the Karl Marx bust anyway, so he was quite alright, thank you very much.
But then again, it might just've been the wind.


Sunday 3 May 2015

Let's Draw Kew Gardens - Saturday 16th May 2015

Our next London Urban Sketchers sketchcrawl will be at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew - in south west London - on Saturday 16th May 2015. 

It's FREE and there's no need to book a place - just turn up on the day!

It will be my special pleasure to introduce people who have not been before to a place which has endless opportunities for sketching. It's certainly one of my absolute favourite places for a day's sketching! You'll see some of pen and ink and coloured pencils below.

Syon Vista by Katherine Tyrrell
This is from the Palm House looking down Syon Vista (very wide grass path) to the River Thames
- overlooking Syon House on the other side of the river.
© Katherine Tyrrell 
WHERE:  Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew - Download the  map of Kew Gardens

WHEN:    Saturday 16th May 2015 (The gardens are open from 10am if you want to get there early)

ENTRANCE FEE: £15 per adult (£14 if purchased online) and Free if you are a Friend. 

START:    11:00am at the Terrace outside the Cafe at the Entrance (just to the right of the ticket gate) - introduction to those new to urban sketching and tips re. Kew Gardens

LUNCH:    1:30pm at The Orangery - share our sketches, group photo - and time for lunch. The Orangery has hot and cold food from Peyton & Byrne and tables and chairs to sit and eat at.

END:        3:30pm - in front of the Palm House (Lake side)  - share our sketches + another group photo to add to the collection!

TRAVELKew Gardens Station - Underground: District Line to Richmond | North London Line to Richmond. For other lines see the map below

MAP:  Kew Gardens Maps and Gates (download for free)

Organiser: Katherine Tyrrell (do please leave any queries as comments on this post - or post them on the Facebook Event Page and I'll do my best to answer them)

Download the Getting to Kew Gardens Transport Map,
also showing gate locations

Things to do and see and sketch

There's absolutely masses to see and sketch at Kew Gardens which is HUGE!  If you've never been before, a little bit of research before you go really pays dividends at Kew Gardens.

You can see some of the sights of Kew on this Kew Gardens Spring Slideshow

I've identified all the key features on a Google Map and annotated it for this Sketchcrawl. Just click the link to access it - and then click the icons to find out what they represent.

Click the icon second from right on top line to see it full size on your screen.  Use the +/- signs to get the scale right.

When I've got a minute, I'll add a few more in....

Buildings and Structures

Kew Palace by Katherine Tyrrell
(see Liz Steel and Borromini at Kew Palace)
© Katherine Tyrrell 

The main buildings which people might want to sketch appear as a "yellow house" on the map. They include:

  • The Palm House - absolutely amazing building both inside and out. Try going up the steps to see the view of the palms from above! Great view of it from the other side of the Lake 
  • The Temperate House - currently closed for restoration. Views of it will depend on the nature of the building works at present 
  • The Princess of Wales Conservatory - lots of triangular angles! I like the inside best. (near the Orangery) 
  • The Alpine House - cute and perfectly formed greenhouse (near the Orangery) 
  • Kew Palace - lots of traditional architecture to sketch her - and good for before or after lunch as very close to the Orangery
  • Chokushi Mon - the Japanese Gateway - set in a formal Japanese Garden. Not visited as much as some other parts of the garden and usually very peaceful.
  • The Orangery is Grade I listed and is Kew's only original plant house which still survives - although now used as a cafe and where we will meet for lunch (on the terrace if the weather is fine)

A couple of structures which are also definitely worth a look are:


Pagoda Vista © Katherine Tyrrell
This was originally done on mat board cut to postcard size and was posted to a lady who lives in the USA!

Then there are the Vistas!  These are marked on blue on the Google Map. The main ones are:
  • Pagoda Vista - very probably one of those views which says "This is Kew".
  • Cedar Vista - this runs from the Pagoda down to the Thames
  • Syon Vista - see the top sketch for the view from the Palm House down Syon Vista
  • Syon Overlook - looking down the River Thames towards Richmond and across the Thames to Syon House.
The Thames at Kew from Syon Overlook by Katherine Tyrrell
© Katherine Tyrrell
    This list gives you more information about other attractions

    People who are wondering about how to sketch the big old trees at Kew may get some inspiration from the Exhibition: Kew's Heritage Trees by Masumi Yamanaka at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art (see map).