Sunday 19 March 2017

Let's draw Alexandra Palace – Saturday 29 April 2017

Join us at the Alexandra Palace, perched high on a hill overlooking north London. Ally Pally's once grand buildings are a little battered these days but still dramatic, the terrace offers panoramic views over London, and the 196 acres of park host all kinds of activities.
Key meeting points for the day:
11am: Meet at the east end of the terrace, outside the BBC studios. It still has the old transmitter mast on top so you can't miss it. There should be enough shelter under the colonnade if it's raining. 

Lakeside cafe
1 pm: Meet to share sketchbooks and experiences down by the boating lake, outside the cafe if it is fine, inside if it is wet. 

3.30 pm: Finish back up at the main building to share sketchbooks and take group photos, on the corner terrace outside the Phoenix pub and restaurant if it is fine, inside if it is wet.

Alexandra Palace was built in 1873, as a place of public entertainment. It opened on Queen Victoria's birthday with great celebrations, but just 16 days later caught fire and burned down. The replacement building, which opened two years later, lasted somewhat longer, but in 1980 it caught fire again; people came out to watch the blaze from vantage points right across north London.
In its day, Ally Pally has served many purposes. An early airship was built and flew from there. In the first world war it was used first as a refugee camp, and then as an internment camp for enemy civilians. Then, in the 1930s, the BBC studios were the site of the world's first regular, high definition, public television broadcasts.
Nowadays most of the building has been repaired, but restoration work is still going on to the Victorian theatre and the original BBC studios. It hosts regular exhibitions and concerts. Our sketchcrawl will coincide with the Country Living Spring Fair, so it will be busy. The Great Hall with its splendid organ will be in use for the event; you won't be able to draw in there without buying a ticket, but if you are tall enough, you can see the organ through the round windows in the external doors!

Things to Draw
The building itself is huge and theatrical, with polychrome brickwork and lots of arches. The surrounding terrace gives long views out across London.
In the grounds you will find a rose garden, a lake with some particularly bonkers boats, a tree top climbing facility, pitch and put, a skate park and children's playgrounds.
The area known as the Grove has an ancient oak and some wooden sculptures.
If it's wet: One of my favourite bits of the Palace is the palm court, just inside the main entrance, with potted palms, pyramids and sphinxes. If we can't go in through the main door because of the event, we should be able to get to the palm court by going through the pub, which has seating in the court.
The Palace is also home to an ice rink, which has spectator seating. This is open to the public. There is a charge of £1.50, but it does include a cup of tea or coffee. I have been assured that they don't mind if we draw the skaters.
The Lakeside cafe has glass sides, so you could hole up there and draw the lake and boats in one direction, the treetop walkway in the other.
There's also a garden centre in the grounds, which has a particularly fine collection of Ali Baba pots; you could draw those under cover.

As well as the Phoenix bar/restaurant in the main building, there are other cafes scattered around the grounds. There's the cafe by the Lake, a good, rather more genteel cafe in the garden centre and a little Italian cafe and sandwich bar in the Grove. There's also a fine Victorian pub opposite Alexandra Palace Station, which I'm told is rather good. There are plenty of toilets.

Alexandra Palace Station (Zone 3) is on the rail line from Moorgate to Letchworth, Hertford and Welwyn Garden City (passing through Highbury and Finsbury Park on the way). It's quite a stiff walk up to the Palace from the Station, but you could always hop on the W3 bus.
The W3 bus runs right through the park, up to the Palace itself, and links it to the tube at Finsbury Park (Victoria Line) and Wood Green (Piccadilly).
This is one of the few London venues where it might make sense to come by car. There are huge car parks (1,500 free parking places, according to the website).

The Alexandra Palace website has lots more information:

The day will be run by Elizabeth Blunt and Daniel Lloyd-Morgan