Thursday 5 May 2022

Let's draw Camden Market - Saturday 21 May 2022

Sketch by Ben Collins-Sussman visiting from Chicago

[Alison Gardiner, Christine Milewska, Mike Barber and Sasala Wickramasinghe write]

In May we draw Camden Market, one of London’s busiest retail destinations attracting up to 250,000 people each week

The market, which dates back to the early 1970s, started with a total of 16 traders selling antiques, jewellery and arts and crafts. Now Camden Market is home to hundreds of small businesses bringing to the area the multicultural diversity that we’ve all come to love.

Apart from independent retail, Camden has a rich heritage of music and fashion. Dingwall’s Dance Hall and the Roundhouse revolutionised London’s music scene in the 1970s, with iconic gigs by bands such as The Sex Pistols and Blondie. The boom in the music industry brought alternative fashion trends -– Camden market became the place to hang out and shop for hippy flares, leather jackets, slogan tees, and battered old Dr Martens footgear. 

Photo by Sasala Wickramasinghe

Today Camden Market has evolved and expanded into a diverse community of creative sellers, street food traders and independent stores next to the Regent’s Canal which runs through the heart of Camden. However, the punk rock heritage is still preserved in the fancy shop facades along Camden Road.

The day is free of charge, no need to book, just turn up with your artist’s materials.

Key times and meeting points

Meeting points and local landmarks are shown on our location map at the end of this blog post.

11 AM

Meet at The Quay in Hawley Wharf by the brand new Hawley Wharf shopping centre. It is just across the road from the Camden Market entrance. 

Arrive at Camden Market by the road bridge over the canal on Camden High Street.  Find the jewellers called "e & e" at 
218 Camden Lock Place NW1 8AB. To the left of the jewellers is a ramped path going down to the canal towpath. Follow the ramp down, and then go back under the road bridge and follow the towpath. The meeting place at Hawley Quay is about 100 metres along the towpath, where there is a large open space by a newly developed commercial site.

1 PM

Meet again at The Quay in Hawley Wharf. 

3:30 PM

Meet at the same place for the final throwdown.


For those who would like to stay on for a drink and chat (and sketch!) afterwards, we will head to the Ice Wharf Pub on Camden Lock, with outside seating and views over the canal towards the market.

Options for drawing

· The Market – Inside the market are independent shops selling clothing, antiques, and jewellery. Further along the road from Camden Lock, the Camden general shopping area is packed with fashion, craft and unique shop fronts, offering lots of colour and distinctive frontages.

Sketch by Alison Gardiner

· People – No shortage of people in Camden! On weekends the market gets very busy, especially on a good day. There are plenty of subjects to capture –- look out for weird and wonderful characters, from hipsters to punks. There are many eating establishments with external seating that also offer many people-sketching opportunities.

· Street scene – The streets are heaving with people, buses and railway bridges.

· Architecture – Canalside, there are existing and former commercial buildings, some of which are warehouses converted into chic residential blocks.

Sketch by Mike Barber

· Regent’s Canal – Draw the canal with its locks, boats, and barges.

Sketch by Christina Milewska

· Street art – Look out for colourful graffiti and street art, including a piece by Banksy on Oval Road, by the entrance to The Pirate Castle clubhouse.

· Primrose Hill (residential) – Sightly further afield from the Camden Lock site is the chic residential area of Primrose Hill. Here there is attractive late Victorian and Edwardian housing with pretty shop fronts giving a ‘village feel’. This area is much more sedate than Camden Lock, if you’re looking for a more serene area to sketch.

Sketch by Alison Gardiner

· Primrose Hill (park) – This green space provides fantastic views across central London. But please note this is a good kilometre walk from Camden, so you would need to allow 15 to 20 minutes to walk to and from the Camden site to return for our throwdowns.

Sketch by Christina Milewska

Practical information

The nearest Tube stations are Camden Town (5 mins), Chalk Farm (10 mins) and Camden Road (8 mins). Several bus routes (Kings Cross, 214; Victoria, 24; West End, 274; East London, 393) are also available.

There are plenty of independent cafés, restaurants and street food stalls inside and around Camden Market -- you’re spoilt for choice!

The toilets inside the market -- on the upper level of the Market Hall -- tend get very busy as the day progresses. The toilets in the Hawley Wharf shopping centre are newer, cleaner and quieter. Apart from these, most cafés and restaurants also have toilets which people can use.

COVID-19 visit information

Since COVID-19 and its variants remain, even though restrictions have been lifted, it's sensible to take all necessary precautions to keep ourselves and fellow sketchers safe throughout the event. The risk of infection for outdoor events is low, but basic guidance still applies:

· Please do not attend if you feel unwell

· Wear a face covering when you're close to others

· Give people space, and

· Practice good hand hygiene.

See you at Camden!

This event is run by Alison Gardiner, Christine Milewska, Mike Barber and Sasala Wickramasinghe. 

Location map

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