Saturday 16 January 2016

Ziggy played guitar...

[by Nathan Brenville] For some time, I've been meaning to go and find the street where the Ziggy Stardust album cover was taken, with a view to sketching it. As one of those places that remains obscure and unknown despite the photograph's iconic status, it's my favourite type of location to sketch.

With the sad news of David Bowie's passing this week, I decided it was finally time to go there, and sketch the scene - as you can see from the photograph to the left, quite a shrine has grown up spontaneously, as people come by to leave tributes and pay their respects, from homemade efforts to DVDs and albums, to lots of flowers and candles.

I listened to the album of Ziggy Stardust on my phone while I was sketching; I aimed to finish the drawing by the length of the album, but by the time I finished the colour I was into Aladdin Sane. Ooops.

It was a freezing Thursday night, but I stuck it out. There was a constant stream of people coming to look at the shrine, sandwiched as it is now between two bar/restaurants. If you look at the album cover, taken in 1971/2? it was rather more of a dingy backstreet, just off Regent Street - now its location has inevitably led to it becoming a trendy collection of bars and eateries, including round the corner where the back of the album cover was shot, that now houses the Ice Bar (what a crazy world it is where people pay £15 to be allowed to drink inside in artificially freezing temperatures, but then go and sit outside in January, in England, and drink underneath huge energy wasting outdoor heaters?)

Note the mistakes. I try not to worry about making mistakes, but it still irks me that I can't rub it out the way you can working in pencil!


Friday 15 January 2016

UPDATE: re Let's Draw Canary Wharf 16 January 2016

This is an update on places to meet, places to sketch and the weather for Let's Draw Canary Wharf - 16th January 2016. The VENUES FOR LUNCH AND FINISH HAVE CHANGED.

The weather forecast

First the good news. BBC Weather is predicting sunshine all day. The bad news is it goes with temperatures of about 3 degrees!

This is fine for sketching so long as you dress appropriately!
  • It's ESSENTIAL you dress with layers, wear your thermals and a warm hat! My fingerless gloves with mitten tops will also be coming out with me tomorrow. 
  • you have insulation between your rear and a very cold fixed seat outdoors. I also recommend carrying least a paper to sit on or seating pad! Thick trousers also help. Otherwise you must stand or need a stool.


I trecked round Canary Wharf on Wednesday to check out all the venues in detail - and took lots of photos so I can describe them to you. Plus I have maps for a few people!

If you have never been before the layout is VERY CONFUSING - but well signposted.

This is the Google Map of venues detailed below

I do recommend you grab one of the map guides as soon as you arrive. They're very easy to find in the shopping malls. I've already picked up some which I will bring with me but it won't be enough for everybody.

Please remember the whole of Canary Wharf is PRIVATE PROPERTY. The rules for what we can and cannot do may be different from the public domain (which this is not). However I've never had problems taking photos.

Start Venue - 11:00am at Canary Wharf DLR Ticket Concourse (Cabot Place)

We'll meet next to the clock inbetween the UP escalators to the platforms 4 & 5 at Canary Wharf DLR Station (ie NOT the Jubilee Line). It's on the same level as the Oyster Card readers and one floor below the level of the platforms.  So if you're arriving via this route you need to come down the escalators and walk across to the up escalators side. There's lots of room in the vicinity for a large group to congregate and not block people getting around.

This is what the clock looks like - next to the escalator and stairs UP to platforms 4 and 5.

The DLR Station Clock on the ticket concourse below the platform level
and between the escalators going up to the platforms

You can go back up the stairs (no need to use your Oyster card if you are not travelling) and sketch the amazing architecture of the DLR station from the platforms (see below)

Or you can walk out the doors to the right of this pic and visit the Sky Garden at Crossrail Place (see below)

Lunchtime - 1:00pm at Jubilee Place Shopping Mall

This is the below ground level of the Jubilee Place Shopping Mall
- lots of places to get food, hot soup and hot drinks
- and it's VERY WARM!
I'm CHANGING THE VENUE FOR LUNCH from the Sky Garden to Jubilee Place Shopping Centre (which is below ground level) for two reasons:
  1. It's LOVELY AND WARM! I recommend this as a place to stay close to if you need to go and warm up periodically for 10 minutes or so during the day!
  2. It has lots of places where people can get food and hot drinks e.g. M&S; Starbucks, Costa Coffee etc. We'll also be meeting up here afterwards (more below)
I suggest we meet near these columns.
This is what the entrance to the Shopping Centre looks like in the centre of Jubilee Place Park. Note how you get in as you go as finding your way out again is not obvious!

Entrance to the Jubilee Place Shopping Mall - and warmth and food

FINISH - 3:30pm Canary Wharf Underground Station (West Entrance)

I'm CHANGING THE FINISH VENUE to the Jubilee Line TfL Station between Jubilee Place and Middle Dock - for those going home on the tube. Beware there are three entrances and there are two photographic clues to which is the right one below

 Again we have lots of space to congregate near the station and lots to sketch for those who get there early!

Jubilee Line Underground Station (West Entrance)
- between Jubilee Place Park and Middle Dock (and close to the DLR station)
If when facing the station (as in the above photo) you can see these clocks if you look left then you've got the right entrance to the Underground!

If you look left while facing the underground entrance and can see these clocks you are at the right entrance!
Walk past these clocks, through the doors and turn left to get back to the DLR Station

AFTERWARDS - 4:pm Crush Fit Food

So we'll walk from the station back into the park and down the escalators to where we met and lunch and this time we'll go to Crussh Fit Food and Juice Bar Unit 21 Jubilee Place. I had a good look round for a suitable place to meet up afterwards. This was the only place that didn't have lots of teeny tables.

This is what it looks like - you can also see it the centre of the previous view of the Jubilee Place shopping Mall - below ground view.

It also does hot soups and coffees and teas!

Crussh in Jubilee Place

Places to Sketch

Canary Wharf DLR

Use the up escalators from where we meet to get to the platforms

I've checked and there's nothing to stop people going up to the platforms to sketch - you don't need to use your Oyster card. I do recommend you stay well out of the way of people who are travelling. There's a good amount of space at either end of the platforms which don't get busy.

DLR platforms and concave roof - plus note the fixed seats
The view from the other end of the platform

Crossrail Place Sky Garden

To get to the Sky Garden:
  • face the clock on the ticket concourse at the DLR station and then turn right and walk through the doors and down to the street
  • Turn right and walk up to Crossrail Place - the long covered bridge to Crossrail Place (marked as Adams Plaze Bridge on the map). Walk down the bridge past the photography exhibition of wildlife at Canary Wharf. 
the entrance to Crossrail Place - the bridge which leads to the Sky Garden.
There are great views of the architecture from this level
There are great views across the dock from the windows at the end of the bridge.

Inside Crossrail Place
  • turn right and go up the up escalator
  • at the top you come out at the side of a bar/restaurant. Walk straight ahead and you'll come to this view of the Sky Garden. 
  • The roof is partially open and partially closed and you're protected from stiff breezes. There are lots of seats to sit on around the garden - and there are toilets!
You can sit under one end of the Sky Garden and sketch the geometry and the tree ferns!
If you enter the "Big Easy" bar and restaurant, they may open up their end terrace for you if you buy something to eat or drink. You can then draw this view

The view from the Big Easy - across West India Quay DLR Station

Winter Lights

The Winter Lights are not going to be on until 4pm. I didn't see much evidence of them and some were still being put up. The best place to see them is Jubilee Place Park and Montgomery Square.

Winter Lights Jubilee Place

Ice skating rink - Canada Place Park

You can stand around the ice rink and see through perspex windows around the larger part of the rink. There are also limited places to get alongside the rink. Those wanting to stay indoors to sketch skaters might like to investigate the Wahacca Bar at Canary Wharf (in the background of this photo). I didn't go inside so I don't know if it works as a venue but it seems to be the only place which provides a top down perspective

The ice rink is built up above the ground - viewing is through windows around the rink

The big dig in West India Dock

You can see this from Montgomery Square. It's now much bigger than when I last saw it in November.

The Big Dig in the Dock - lots of cranes


Sunday 10 January 2016

Let's Draw Canary Wharf - 16th January 2016

The next Let's Draw event for urban sketchers in London will be at Canary Wharf on Saturday 16th January 2016. 

UPDATE: re Let's Draw Canary Wharf 16 January 2016


Our events are always FREE to anybody who would like to turn up and have a go at urban sketching.

Here are 
  • the details of venues and times for start/lunch/finish 
  • more information about what's on offer to sketch.

Note that sketching the Lumiere 'objects d'art' will be best after 4pm so I'm assuming those that want to sketch them at their best will want to stay later. 

I'm assuming some people may not have been to Canary Wharf before so am providing a bit more information than usual. I'd make very sure you have access to a printout of a good map - or one on your phone - as it can be confusing at times - although well signposted.

Canary Wharf Station


  • START venue/time: Canary Wharf Station @ 11:00 UPDATE: next to the clock on the ticket concourse between the up escalators to the platforms
  • LUNCH: 1:00pm - Crossrail Sky Garden - in the North Dock (semi-circular seating area - see photo) You will see signposts to the Sky Garden.  UPDATE: in the below ground eating area of the Jubilee Shopping Mall - entrance in Jubilee Place
  • FINISH: 3:30pm - Canary Wharf Station UPDATE: Next to the West Entrance to Canary Wharf Underground Station - between Jubilee Place and Middle Dock
  • AFTERWARDS: 4:00pm I'm going to try and locate a place to have a drink where we can see the Lumiere Crussh in Jubilee Place Shopping Mall
See UPDATE: re Let's Draw Canary Wharf 16 January 2016 for photographs of what different places look like.

[Please note: the Sketchcrawls Page is now called "Let's draw London in 2016"]

Crossrail Sky Garden amphitheatre semi-circular seating
- good for sitting eat sandwiches and a photo at lunchtime!


    Click this map to see a larger version of where the Winter Lights are at Canary Wharf
    For those wanting to orientate themselves relative to how the docks sued to be here's a map of the docks in 1899

    Isle of Dogs in 1899
    The Sky Garden is located in what was then the West India - Import Dock
    The two parks are either side and overlapping what was the West India Export Dock
    The South Dock -where the Big Dig is happening used to be called West India -South  Dock.

    More information - a summary


    Refreshments: This is the Store Guide for where everything is. Sandwiches can be bought from:
    • Marks and Spencer (Jubilee Place Shopping Mall)
    • Waitrose (Canada Place Shopping Mall)
    • meals can be had at various other places of refreshment
    Toilets: These are not so obvious. However, there are public toilets in all the shopping malls at Canary Wharf. They are located as follows:
    • Cabot Place, Mall Level -1, behind Citibank
    • Canada Place, Mall Level -1, at the end of the corridor opposite Robert Dyas
    • Churchill Place, Mall Level -1, behind James Shoe Care
    • Jubilee Place, Mall Level -1, adjacent to Gourmet Burger Kitchen
    • Canary Wharf - getting here
    • Docklands Light Railway - The DLR network runs from Bank and Tower Gateway to Stratford, Beckton and Lewisham. For some of the trains the Canary Wharf station is the point where you change - so it's BIG!
    • Tube: Jubilee Line - link lists journey times
    • Bus:135, 277, D3, D7, D8 
    • Transport for London's Plan a Journey
    • Parking: park your car at the weekend in the car parks. You can get three hours free at the weekend if you spend more than £10 in any of the shops/cafes and get your ticket validated. 

    More Information - specific places / installations

    Canary Wharf DLR Station 

    This is a large station for the Docklands Light Railway in the centre of Canary Wharf with some amazing architecture.

    Note this is NOT the Canary Wharf Jubilee Line station.

    Crossrail Sky Garden

    The Crossrail Sky Garden was opened this summer.

    View of the Sky Garden. It contains two of the light installations in January

    The Big Dig - South Dock

    There's a big going on at present in the South Dock - presumably to provide foundations for another skyscraper.  Great for those who like construction and machinery to sketch!

    See the map for the location where this photo was taken from in November. The three cranes on the right are iconic and preserved from the days of the docks. On the left you can see part of the O2 Arena.

    The Big Dig in South Dock - from the edge of Montgomery Square

    The Ice Rink

    You can visit and sketch skaters on London’s largest outdoor ice rink Ice Rink Canary Wharf in Canada Square Park.

    Skaters are good fun to sketch as although they keep moving they also keep making the same repeated movements and after a while you find you are sketching a bit of people and then waiting for them to come round again so you can finish them off!

    (I'm checking whether or not we need a ticket to watch and sketch the skaters. You don't need a ticket at other ice rinks - but worth checking!)

    Canary Wharf - Winter Lights 

    This is an exhibition of 18 light installations which has just been installed and is on until 22 January. The best effect will be enjoyed by anybody who decides to stay late.  I suspect this will be decided by the weather and the best place to view them from somewhere warm!
    My understanding is that this event is associated with the Lumiere London event which runs from 14-17 January in Central London.

    If you have any queries please send them to the contact email address in the side column or on the sketchcrawls page.