A peregrination around City Road

IMG_3110I set off up Whitecross Street. The market was setting up, and I went round the back of the stalls. Here’s a quick sketch from Whitecross Street, looking up Banner Street, 40 minutes.

At the end of Banner Street you the White Collar Factory, a multi-occupancy office place, and the weird building on the Old Street roundabout. I’ve drawn these buildings before from another angle: Buildings on Cowper St EC2

Amongst the buildings of the St Luke’s estate I rested in Radnor Street Gardens.

This gave me a good view of Gambier House.

Gambier House from Radnor Street Gardens, 1hr


After that I needed a coffee and made my way to Westland Coffee and Wine, in an alley off the City Road.


Westland Coffee and Wine is next to Shoreditch, and people hold interesting business conversations there. I had coffee and warmed up. Refreshed, I set off along Westland Place, and passing Jamie Oliver’s “Fifteen”, and the glass and steel offices of communications companies and a CCTV company.

Then there’s a discontinuity: a sudden change from glass and steel, to a brick-built residential estate, The Provost Estate, including Rhodes House. The Atlas Building is visible along Provost Street, looking South (Number 3 on the map).

Atlas Building from Nile Street, 1 hour 50 minutes.
Italiano Pizza, Nile Street

I drew this in 1 hour 50 minutes, sitting comfortably in a wooden chair kindly provided by the proprietor of “Italiano Pizza” on Nile Street. His shop emitted marvellous smells of baking dough. Customers turned up at regular intervals, placed their orders and then drifted off to walk their dogs or smoke their cigarettes while their pizza was prepared.

“The Atlas Building” construction site includes both the 52-storey building and the dark cube.

“Atlas epitomises luxury-living in an exciting and vibrant urban landscape. Atlas stands tall with 38 residential floors of exquisite apartments stretching across London’s prominent skyline.”

I can’t find out what the dark cube is. It doesn’t look residential.

The brick buildings are on Vestry Street. They look like former warehouses. On the left is “FindersUK.com international probate geneologists”. The buildings next to it in the centre of the drawing are unoccupied.

Work in progress: Seawhite travel journal from Artesaver.


Here’s another picture of the Atlas building, which I did on the 17th February, from Canalside Square, Packington Street N1.

The Atlas Building, Montcalm, Eagle Point, from Canalside Square 17th Feb 2018, 40 minutes.

When I came home, I saw a rainbow from my window.

Skyline east with rainbow

7 thoughts on “A peregrination around City Road”

  1. Hello Niall, I appreciate your message. As you say, it is interesting to remember that this area, like Hackney, was “falling down” in the recent past. There are still vacant areas, even on City Road, next to Shepherdess Walk for example. This area looks to me like a bomb site, buildings demolished after the Blitz and not (yet) redeveloped.
    There must be a drawing project to be done, to show the vacancies, the gaps, the “falling down”, before it all changes and the glass and steel constructions fill the space.


  2. I really like your artwork, and also very much enjoy reading about your ‘journey’ around the area, and what catches your attention as you do your work. This happens to be my neighbourhood too, and I walk around a lot and am fascinated by the rapid development. Maybe it’s because where I grew up I saw little else but industrial decline (in the 70s and 80s). Nothing was ever built, it was always falling down. And I also remember Hackney when it was mostly ‘falling down’ (though never like the Black Country, where I am from), so it’s great that you are observing a neighbourhood that is so much in flux.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello Nathaniel, I’m glad that helps. I put more information about tools on the page “Drawing tools” on the blog:
    I put pictures of the A5 “travel journal” sketch book with the cartridge paper.
    I have sometimes used watercolour paper, and I would be interested in comparing your experience with mine.

    Last year I thought it would be great idea to work in a bigger book, and use watercolour paper. I tried it. See this blog post:
    You can see how much more vibrant the colour is! But – the Saunders Waterford watercolour paper is very absorbent – so it took ages to apply to the colour. And the bigger picture took longer – this one took three hours.
    I just found it hard, and reverted to the smaller book and the cartridge paper I was used to.

    The good thing about the cartridge paper is that the colour doesn’t soak in – so one brush stroke goes a long way. This means one can, and must, work quickly. The problem with cartridge paper is that you can’t really use “watercolour techniques”. Lifting the colour off with a cloth or brush doesn’t work and just makes the paper go fibrous and the colour purity is lost. If you apply more than one layer of colour it tends to make a mess and go muddy.

    On holiday I have used watercolour paper – I treated myself to a Stillman and Bern Delta series sketch book.
    I found this paper a lot easier to use than the Saunders Waterford. Its absorbency is somewhere between the Saunders Waterford and the cartridge paper. I’m still experimenting, as I think the real watercolour paper does give better colours, and it’s possible to use more techniques.

    So I am going to try watercolour paper again in the future.

    What paper do you use?


    1. Hello Nathaniel – my sketches are all A5. I’m currently using a sketchbook by Seawhite of Brighton. I’ll add a picture of work-in-progress so you see the book. It’s 130gsm cartridge paper.
      Here’s their website: http://www.artesaver.co.uk.
      I use their “alternate lined and blank travel journal” for these urban sketches. I’ve also used their “watercolour travel journal” which is only available in landscape – this has proper watercolour paper. My “coastal and maritime” sketches are done in this.
      Does that help?


      1. Thank you for your helpful information. A bit surprised that they are on cartridge paper as your results are so much better than mine on this that I thought you might have used watercolour paper.


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