Some time ago, I was given a Japanese sketchbook, which was in the form of a concertina of doubled paper. In the last few days I drew the world outside, as seen from the windows of this flat. It’s about a 270 degree view, mostly over West and North London.
During these days of indoor confinement, the weather outside has been beautiful. Stunning blue skies. So I put that in using Phthalocyanine Turquoise watercolour.
Then I made a videos. The first one, with the pointer, has an audio commentary. It’s quite quiet, you may need to turn the sound up. The second one is silent. This is the first time I’ve put videos on this site. Let me know if it works.
I added written captions also, as you see in the second video.
Here are still pictures from the panorama with captions.
I have wanted to draw this building for a long time. It has the most wonderful shape.
It seemed like today was a good day: empty streets and sun. I found a view, and stood sketching with the sun on my back.
Three things happened.
A group of skateboarders chose the particular wide pavement on which I was standing to practise their sport.
People started to accumulate in the park nearby, with beer cans and music.
The sun moved, and I was in shade.
The skateboarders were skilful, and avoided me, but were a worry and distraction. The groups of people were definitely contravening current regulations on social distancing and made me uneasy. And then I was getting cold.
So I packed up my sketch, and moved on. The result is a rather dashed sketch, but somehow captures the mood, and is not unpleasing. What do you think?
There are more curves in this view than I normally encounter in an urban sketch. As well as the marvellous building, you can see the wiggle of the road called Bevis Marks, at the bottom of the sketch. That sinuous line is usually totally lost in the buses and parked cars. But it was visible today.
70 St Marys Axe is by Foggo Architects. It was finished last year. The interior design is also a sight to behold. I peered in through the glass.
I walked back through the deserted city and came to Finsbury Circus. Here was the most wonderful tranquil air and a feeling of light. I realised this was because a huge and tall Crossrail construction, which has been at the centre of Finsbury Circus for months, has now gone. The sky has reappeared. I could look back and see the buildings of the city though a fine mesh of branches and spring leaves. It was beautiful. I sat on the steps of 1 Finsbury Circus and drew it.
Just visible over the top of Bastion House is the top of “OneBlackfriars”. In the foreground: Mountjoy House, Barbican, on the right. Along the bottom is the Barbican Highwalk which joins Mountjoy House and Wallside.
I hastened to draw the magnificent Bastion House, on London Wall. It is due for demolition. In the foreground you see the balcony and privacy screen of the flat in Andrewes, whose leaseholder had kindly hosted me. The line of red brick, and what looks like chimneys, in the foreground are the rooftops of a … Continue reading “Bastion House, London Wall”
Bastion House aka 140 London Wall is a huge modernist monolith, reminiscent of the monolith in “2001 – A Space Odyssey”. I couldn’t find a site to draw the monolith part today, so here is a view at Podium Level, looking West towards the Museum of London. You see the dark undercroft, walkways and a … Continue reading “Bastion House from Podium Level”
Today Urban Sketchers London held a “sketch crawl” in the Barbican. So I joined them. An astonishing number and diversity of people assembled inside the entrance of the Barbican Centre at the appointed time of 11am. I counted about 35 and then another dozen or so joined. All shapes and sizes of people, tall, short, … Continue reading “St Giles and Bastion House”
This drawing took rather a long time as I stopped a couple of times. As a result, by the time I finished, the lights were coming on in the office buildings, and the sky was dark.
It will be “premium office and retail space over 29 floors”. The developer is “CIT”:
Steve Riddell, Managing Director Developments, CIT, says [on the CIT website]: “As the line between corporate and creative becomes more integrated, our aim is to provide a workplace solution that offers flexible spaces that embrace collaboration and connectivity at the same time. We are excited for HYLO to become the defining destination in the Old Street district.”
The drawing also shows buildings associated with St Joseph’s Catholic Church, these are in front of HYLO, and dwarfed by it. The cube behind HYLO on the left is “White Collar Factory” and mixed-use office space on Old Street Roundabout. Offices on Lambs Passage are on the right. In the front, at the bottom of the drawing, are the extensive air conditioning ducts and roof apparatus on a building of Lloyds Bank. On the lower left is a YMCA, being rebuilt as accommodation for young homeless people. Here’s a map and an annotated drawing.
HYLO is on the site of the former Finsbury Tower. Here is what it looked like before:
St Joseph’s Bunhill Row on right. From the church notice board: “A small chapel in the basement of a former school 1901”. Contains windows from St Mary Moorfields 1820. Remodelled 1993 by Anthony Delarue “in a vaguely Florentine Renaissance manner”. The crib is there until Feb 2nd, and the church is open Fridays 12noon to … Continue reading “Lamb’s Buildings EC1”
This site is a few minutes walk from where I live. There will be a “new home for young homeless Londoners”. “146 beds, 10 000 lives, 60 years”, says the text on the hoarding. There will be 146 en-suite rooms, an “affordable gym for the whole community” and a “social enterprise unit”. You can see … Continue reading “YMCA site, Errol St EC1”
Here is a postcard collage I sent to my friends in another city.
It is inspired by the website: sendmeapostcart.com, and shows the connections we make, the lines which bind us, the distances which separate us, and the pleasure I found in meeting this family again after many years.
Here’s the South Bank seen from the Victoria Embankment on the North Bank.
Here you see the modern blocks, with the older wharves in front. The low red building towards the right is Oxo Tower Wharf, formerly a factory making OXO cubes, now a place with workshops for jewellers, a restaurant and various cafés. The building was designed for the Liebig Extract of Meat Company by Albert Moore in the 1920s. It was derelict in the 1970s. In the 1980s the Coin Street Community Builders saved it from demolition and with great determination gradually renovated it in stages over the next twenty years.
The tall tower on the right is the South Bank Tower, a residential block. Its height was increased recently, adding about a third on top. You can see the “seam” on the building, and I have shown it in the drawing on the right of the tower. One Blackfrairs is the asymmetrical tower in the middle, mostly residential, and completed last year.
Here is work in progress.
Here’s a map.
There is a building to the South West of Blackfriars Bridge, labelled “HM Customs” on the map. This is next to Oxo Tower Wharf, on the river front in the centre of the drawing.
HM Customs and Excise were there from 1987, when the building was called “New Kings Beam House”. In an early part of my career they were a client of mine. This was the 1980s. I remember stepping over mud in my nice business shoes, and picking my way between derelict buildings with my briefcase, feeling rather conspicuous. After this hazardous journey, I was always glad to see the uniformed commissionaire at the door of New Kings Beam House. He was, of course, in full Customs uniform, with a white shirt and gold buttons. The entrance was from Upper Ground then. The meetings were in bright offices overlooking the river, fully carpeted and quite unlike the offices of any other of my government clients. HM Customs and Excise merged with the Inland Revenue in 2005 to form “Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs” (HMRC). They must have moved out of the building around then. It was refurbished in 2011, and is now called “Sea Containers House”, with a hotel and the offices of media and marketing companies.
This drawing took about an hour drawn leaning on a stone pillar on the Victoria Embankment. Phthalo Blue (W&N), Burnt Umber (DS) and a bit of Mars Yellow (DS) and Perinone Orange (DS).
I put more information about Sea Containers House in this post: From Oxo Tower Wharf. In the 1980s there were the gold spheres on top of the pillars facing the river. These have since vanished from the riverside façade.
When I was sketching, I thought I could see one of them, hidden at the back. You can see it in the drawing, between the Oxo tower and South Bank Tower. Intrigued, I went looking for it later, and found a view of it from Upper Ground. It’s very odd that they kept that one, and discarded all the others.