Thursday 18 August 2016

Sketching Wren's London - again!

wren's city sticker On Sunday July 24, a whole lot of us gathered outside St.Paul's Cathedral, and then dispersed and sketched Christopher Wren's London. It's the second Wren-themed sketchcrawl in the City I have put on, and as before, I created special handouts which included a hand-drawn map showing all of the Wren churches (and other buildings) within the City boundaries. There are a couple of Wren's City churches not showing, only because I didn't stretch the map far enough north, west, or east, and of course it shows none that are outside the Square Mile; perhaps we'll sketch all of those next time!
Here is the map: Sketching Wren's London Booklet MAP We started at 10:30am outside St. Paul's, and I gave a little historical introduction talking about London leading up to 1666, starting with the beheading of Charles I, which many English people believed had brought a curse upon them, manifesting in the year of the beast, 1666. That was the year of the Great Fire of London; I won't tell the whole story here, you had to be there. We were joined by a good number of people from around the world who were in England for the Manchester Symposium. It was very international - in addition to the UK and the US, we had sketchers from Singapore, Hong Kong, Italy, France, Pakistan, Luxembourg, China, This was day two of London's Urban Sketching pre-Symposium, and it was a little cooler, and a lot calmer than the previous day in Trafalgar Square. I do like the un-crowded City on a weekend. Temple Bar In 2014, I sketched seven Wren buildings in one day, and my ambition was to sketch more. However, you sketch what you can sketch, and I'm pleased to say I at least matched my previous haul. I did use more pencil while sketching than usual, something I am doing more. First off though I sketched the Temple Bar gateway in pen. This was originally down at Fleet Street at the entrance to the City but removed many decades ago, only to sit languishing in Theobolds Park near Cheshunt. It was restored and placed next to St. Paul's just over a decade ago, forming the entrance to Paternoster Square. It was from that still-shining-new plaza that I sketched St. Paul's itself. I have always struggled with the great domed cathedral from this angle but that's ok, you have to draw St. Paul's. St Pauls Cathedral Next up, a couple of neighbours to the great domed masterpiece. First of all, St. Augustine's Watling Street, largely destroyed in the Blitz. I sketched this in pencil from the gardens of St. Paul's churchyard while talking to my old friend from high school, Joan Uloth (check out her Instagram) and Beliza Mendes from Luxembourg. Then I sketched St. Nicholas Cole Abbey, which is visible across the street (now that the building that was in the way has been demolished, that is).
St Augustines  St Nicholas Cole Abbey
This next one was sketched across a busy street, St. Benet's Paul's Wharf, the church where they hold the sermons in Welsh. St Benets Paul's Wharf
I was fcuing more on the south side of the City, so next in line was St. James Garlickhythe (haunted by "Jimmy Garlick". I sketched from an angle and with the very loud and quite chaotic bells ringing, adding the old paint splatter thing because the great Tia Boon Sim from Singapore was on the sketchcrawl and I've always been inspired by her paint splashes. It seemed appropriate given the noise of the bells!
 St James Garlickhythe

My final sketch was of the neighbour to St. James, which is St. Michael Paternoster Royal. What I loved about this crawl was that wherever I went there would always be at least one or two other sketchers there busy plugging away. This by the way is the church where legendary (but historically very real) Mayor Dick Whittington (he of the cat and the pantomime) was buried. Nobody knows where his grave is now though, but while Wren's tomb says "Look Around You" I presume Whittington's tomb says "Look Behind You".
St Michael Paternoster Royal
That is a panto reference if you don't know. In the end, we did seek out Wren's Monument, which is actually a massive column commemorating the Great Fire. Of the 60 or so people that made it to the finishing line (quite a few did not; I checked the number of maps given out and I think we had around 80 participants total), we got together and I read out the names of each Wren building, asking sketchers to raise hands if they had sketched it. And we sketched ALL OF THEM. Every single one! Great job, London sketchers!!!
See you next time!