Sketching in Norwich

Norwich describes itself as “A Fine City”. Indeed it is. The city centre streets are clean, car-free, and lined with a huge variety of shops, restaurants, and service providers such as key-cutters and barbers. All very interesting. And there’s a lovely river too.

The City of Norwich website tells me: “On 17 July 1967, London Street became the first shopping street in the UK to be pedestrianised. It started a revolution that saw people given priority over traffic in city centres.”

This building stands in London Street, at the junction with St Andrews Hill. It was designed by FCR Palmer for the National Provincial Bank, and was completed in 1925 [1]. The National Provincial became NatWest after a series of mergers and takeovers. NatWest moved out in 2017.

“Cosy Club” 45-51 London St, Norwich NR2 1AG, 19th June 2022 12:15, in Sketchbook 12

I also sketched Norwich Cathedral, from the Cathedral Close.

Certainly a fine city, and one to which I hope to return.

Note 1: History of the London Street bank building from the Norwich Society website: https://www.thenorwichsociety.org.uk/explore-norwich/natwest-building-on-london-street

The Horse & Groom, EC2

The Horse & Groom pub is on Curtain Road in Shoreditch.

The Horse & Groom, EC2. 10″ x 7″ in Sketchbook 12. Friday 10 June 2022 12:05

The Horse and Groom describes itself on its website :

Since opening our doors in 2007 the Horse and Groom has grown to be one of East London’s best loved pubs. Recognised as the original entrance for Shakespeare’s Curtain Theatre, in 2012 we were protected as a venue and we look to keep Shoreditch drinking and dancing for a long time yet

TheHorseandGroom.net

The reason why the pub’s future might need to be mentioned is clear from the modern map. As you see from the 2022 street map, the pub and its neighbours are surrounded on three sides by a huge office and residential development “The Stage”.

The Horse & Groom (left) and its neighbours are surrounded by new build.

The pub not only survives, it thrives. Squaremeal.co.uk, a review site, says “The rickety Georgian boozer’s twin dance floors get hectic and steamy at weekends, when house, funk, and rare garage rule….”

Sketching in Curtain Road

I sketched The Horse & Groom standing in Curtain Road. At first I had a clear view, but cars gradually arrived, and vans, and delivery vehicles. I finished the drawing at my desk.

The pub is number 28. The building next door, number 26, is, or was, “Cincinnati Chilibomb”. One of the vans that arrived discharged a consignment of building materials. Construction workers started shifting tools and materials into number 26. So maybe there will be a change of use.

The building next to that, on the right of my drawing, must be number 24. Numbers 24 and 26 are listed, Grade II, Listing NGR: TQ3326982177. I cannot find any listing for the pub.

No 24: early C18, 3 storeys and attic, 2 windows. Rounded gambrel roof, tiled, with dormer. Painted brick with parapet front. Gauged segmental arches to later sash windows. Early-mid C18 shop front, with slightly altered glazing, on ground floor. No 26: house of early C19 appearance, possibly with older core, 3 storeys and attic, 2 windows. Stock brick with parapet, slated mansard with dormer, Gauged near-flat brick arches to modern plate glass windows. Ground floor mid-late C19 shop front.

Historic England listing

Number 24 is a fascinating building. What will happen to it? Currently it is gradually falling derelict:

Click and enlarge the pictures to appreciate the amazing carved woodwork on the door.

The huge buildings behind are described on the website for “The Stage”. The development has “over an acre of public space and landscape gardens surrounded by luxury apartments, cutting edge office space and prime retail…”

London is certainly a city of contrasts.

Here you can see the pen-and-ink drawing and the colour side-by-side:

pages in Sketchbook 12

Bank of England – Tivoli Corner

I took advantage of the road closures for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee to sketch this corner of the Bank of England.

Bank of England – Tivoli Corner, 2nd June 2022, in Sketchbook 12
Temple of Vesta, Tivoli, modern photo from Wikipedia Commons on this link

This is the North-West corner of the Bank of England. The perimeter wall was designed by John Soane in 1805. The design of the corner was inspired by the Temple of Vesta at Tivoli.

The John Soane museum has a marvellous digital archive with detailed notes on his work on the Bank of England. John Soane was surveyor to the Bank of England for 45 years, from 1788 to 1833. During that time the role of the Bank of England changed from a small bank helping out the government with the national debt, to a significant national institution, printing money and managing Income Tax. The Soane museum archive notes:

Since its foundation in 1694, the Bank of England had financed Britain’s wars and managed the national debt. War, therefore, resulted in more business for the Bank, demanding extensive alterations and additions. Soane’s vast building work was largely the result of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars that lasted from 1793 to 1815. More space was required as the staff doubled during this time and the bank note printing process was carried out on site. In addition, new offices were required as the Bank’s responsibilities and roles changed, such as a place for managing the newly instituted Income Tax of 1799.

Madeleine Helmer, 2010-2011, on this link © Sir John Soane’s Museum, London

Here is a view from the North-West in 1807, showing the John Soane Bank of England as constructed. You see the Tivoli Corner, which is there today.

North face of the Bank of England, exhibited in the Royal Academy 1809, by “John Soane Archt 1807” Photo: © Sir John Soane’s Museum, London, http://collections.soane.org/OBJECT3718

John Soane’s 3-storey building was demolished to make way for a new 7-storey building constructed 1925-39 by Herbert Baker. Soane’s perimeter wall was retained, but everything else was replaced. It is Herbert Baker who is responsible for that dome in my drawing, and also for the marvellous walk-through passage at this corner. You can see the North side of the passage in my drawing. For more photos of this passage and a description, I recommend the wonderful “IanVisits” site. Ian visits Tivoli Corner on this link. Or go there! And look up.

I took advantage of the road closure to sketch standing in Moorgate.

As I sketched, people walked past either side of me, in extraordinary hats. Everyone was cheerful and the sun shone. I enjoyed chatting to the various people who stopped to examine my drawing or comment on the view.

Pen, before the colour went on

You see the traffic bollards in the drawing. Those were patiently removed by a security guard every time a police vehicle approached, and equally patiently replaced. This must have happened about six times in the hour and half I was there.

Site progress drawings 1798. Joseph Michael Gandy (1771-1843) Photo: © Sir John Soane’s Museum, London SM (58) volume 69/14

The John Soane archive notes on Tivoli corner are on this link. This site has some lively “work-in-progress” drawings of the construction of the Bank of England. Here is one. See how modern it looks! It was drawn in 1798, the same year that Nelson fought Napoleon in the Battle of the Nile.

Urban watercolour studies

Usually, I use the “pen-and-wash” technique. I draw an urban scene in waterproof pen and then add the wash. This method is fast, and useful for outdoor work on location. Most of my urban sketching work uses this technique. Here’s are example:

I wanted to try a “straight-to-watercolour” method. This involves looking at the scene differently. To go straight to watercolour I need to learn to see “shapes” rather than “lines”. I practised this with these three watercolours:

I worked learning from demonstrations by Matthew White . I hope to incorporate elements of this practice into my own work.

Postcards from Crete

I sent some hand-drawn postcards from Crete.

An experimental view from a restaurant:

Kalyves, looking inland to the church

Another view from a restaurant:

View from the Aptera Tavern

The Roman water cisterns at Aptera:

Roman water cisterns. Totally amazing. Still here, strong and standing.

The beautiful monastery of Agias Triados

I’ve sketched here in previous years, here is a 2017 sketch:

2017: https://janesketching.com/2017/05/13/agias-triada/

Paint dries really quickly here!

Crete blog posts:

  • Postcards from Crete

    Postcards from Crete

    I sent some hand-drawn postcards from Crete. An experimental view from a restaurant: Another view from a restaurant: The Roman water cisterns at Aptera: The beautiful monastery of Agias Triados I’ve sketched here in previous years, here is a 2017 sketch: Paint dries really quickly here! Crete blog posts:


  • Insects Collage

    Insects Collage

    I made a postcard for friends in Basel. It shows the insect life in Crete. Here are some details, and the work under construction.     The idea was that the flies would jump out of the window when it was opened. The postcard is painted using pigments made from the earth. Update 28th May: … Continue reading “Insects Collage”


  • Sketching in Crete 2019

    Sketching in Crete 2019

    The air in Crete was warm and damp. This affected the paper. See how the ink has spread in this pen and ink sketch at the airport: This is De Atramentis Black document ink on high quality watercolour paper, Saunders Waterford, in a small book 6″ by 4″ from the Vintage Paper Company. After that, … Continue reading “Sketching in Crete 2019”


  • Sketches in Crete – Sept 2018

    Sketches in Crete – Sept 2018

    I was experimental. I had a large sketchbook with rough pages, given to me for my birthday. I turned over the pages and tried things. As we drove back from Aptera one evening, the sun was setting and fired up the mist between the hills. Back at the kitchen table, I had a go: It … Continue reading “Sketches in Crete – Sept 2018”


  • Sketching in Crete: May 2018

    Sketching in Crete: May 2018

    Aptera was a city in Greek and Roman times. The people went to the Theatre. From the small slab in the centre, the acoustics are perfect. John gave a rendition of the speech of Richard III “Now is the winter of our discontent….”.  I heard it perfectly, at this distance. The place where we stayed … Continue reading “Sketching in Crete: May 2018”


  • The Guardian of the Vines

    The Guardian of the Vines

    Another collage postcard. I posted this one in London 18th May. It looks a bit crinkled because the cardboard was damp with PVA glue, and then dried. The white shape on the bottom right is a flake of white paint I found on the ground. It must have been polyurethane paint, because it was flexible … Continue reading “The Guardian of the Vines”


  • The journey to the chapel of St Antonis

    The journey to the chapel of St Antonis

    Here is a collage made for friends in Switzerland. I posted it at the Post Office in Kalami on 8th May. The official there did not seem to be concentrating very hard. He looked dubiously at the word “Switzerland” on the address. I think I need to find out what “Switzerland” is in Greek. The … Continue reading “The journey to the chapel of St Antonis”


  • At the airport

    At the airport

     At the gate at Chania airport, we eat cheese pies, and I do sketches of the other people.


  • Agias Triada, small chapel

    Agias Triada, small chapel

    We visited the monastery again, before going to the airport. Two large coaches were in the car park. As I drew the chapel, fragments of dialogue in French and German floated by. A French-speaker was relieved at last to have a call from Yves. He described in detail where the car was, naming the Greek … Continue reading “Agias Triada, small chapel”


Sketching near Oban, Argyle and Bute, Scotland

The Lady of Avenel is an 102ft square rigged brigantine, currently based near Oban, on the west coast of Scotland.

Every year the Lady of Avenel needs a refit to prepare her for her working season. This year I went up there to join the working party for the refit.

I travelled by overnight train from Euston to Crianlarach.

Journey via the Caledonian Sleeper from London to Oban. Map from the Caledonian Sleeper webpage. The overnight journey takes about 10 hours Euston-Crianlarach. Then I caught a local train Crianlarach to Oban.

I drew some sketches on the journey.

The boat was at Dunstaffnage Marina. In between work sessions I drew some pictures.

On the boat was a sea dog, Shona. She had to be locked indoors while crew members were hoisting the engine out. I was not part of the engine-hoisting gang. So I kept the dog company and drew her picture.

I travelled back via Fort William. The High Street caters for climbers and walkers and has a large number of shops stocking all brands of outdoor gear. I examined some of them, then rested by the Old Fort.

Near the train station there is a park with several war memorials, and a poignant plaque from the young people of Hiroshima:

“From the youth of Hiroshima in the hope that the experience of 6th August 1945 will strengthen our search for a peaceful world. January 1st 1968. Hiroshima Junior Chamber of Commerce.”

Here are a few photos of the Lady of Avenel during the refit.

Scotland is beautiful.

Sunset after a swim. Beach called “Ganavan” near Oban.

I have sailed on the Lady of Avenel in previous years:

Outer Hebrides 2017

I took my sketching things on a swimming expedition to the Outer Hebrides with Swimtrek. We were on the wonderful Lady of Avenel 102ft square rigged brigantine. We started in Oban. It was raining when I…

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Lady of Avenel at Heybridge Basin

Here is Lady of Avenel, 102ft Brigantine. This was the third of three sketches. Here are the first two. I have drawn Lady of Avenel previously: Outer Hebrides 2017 See also these pages for pictures of and…

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Sketch notes from maritime Holland

This is Noordermarkt, as seen from Café Hegeraad, in the Jordaan district of Amsterdam. It was a lovely autumn day, warm with a light breeze. I had the apple cake and a coffee. I had arrived from…

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I’ve written about my experiences of sketching and swimming here:

Sketches in Switzerland – Spring 2022

Waiting in London City airport…

Breakfast…

Looking out of the window…

Walking around…

A rich cultural spectacle:

Photographs absolutely not allowed, but sketching was OK. It was very crowded, and great fun to hear the expert yodleurs. They sung in French.

Sketching on the journey back to London. Passports were checked four times: at check-in, at border passport control, and again at the gate in Geneva (shown below), and again on arrival in the UK.

The friendly passport officer at Gate B32 kindly agreed to add his stamp to my picture. You see his blue rectangular contribution in the top right.

Sketching on the plane:

In between all this sketching I did some work…..and went walking in the snow.

Near Sainte-Croix, Vaud.

3-5 St John Street – William Harris

These glorious buildings are at the south end of St John’s Street. This is the view looking north from the Smithfield Meat Market, Central Avenue.

3-5 St John St EC1, 18th March 2022 3:30pm, in Sketchbook 11

It’s a busy corner. I tried to show some the street life: couriers cycling, people sitting at the café, and people, like me, standing and looking. A little further up St John Street, on the right, is construction work.

There was a blue sky as I drew. But do not be deceived: it was cold, as you see from the person on the right, hunched under their coat.

Here is a work-in-progress photo and a map:

This is an ornate buildings: lots of fluting and complicated brickwork. Who thought all that was a good idea? Who could afford it? Number 1, on the left, slightly more restrained, was built for a Frederick Goodspeed, a grocer, in the mid 1880s. The architect was S.C. Aubrey. (reference 1 below)

Numbers 3-5, the building on the corner, has chimneys with all kinds of complicated brickwork, and a highly decorative frontage onto Smithfield. It was built in 1897 for William Harris, the “Sausage King”. He was a sausage manufacturer, and proprietor of a chain of restaurants specialising in sausage and mash. Mr Harris was evidently quite a character. He named all his three sons William, and all his four daughters Elizabeth (reference 2 below). This may have had practical problems, but it meant he and his sons could have fun with the Magistrates:

Woolwich Gazette – Friday 10 November 1905 from “https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk”

The “Sausage King” was somewhat eccentric, but this was to a large extent due to his love of “personal advertising,” which was his motto for business success. At all times of the day he wore a sort of evening dress, with an opera hat, and a blazing diamond in his white shirt, even when buying in the market, and he used not a scrap of writing or wrapping paper that did not bear his photograph. His trade mark, which he registered about forty years ago, depicts him winning the “Pork Sausage Derby” on a fat porker. His principal catch-phrase was “Harris’s sausages are the best,” and it spread the fame of his sausages all over the world. He also composed a lot of poetic advertisements, which caused much amusement.

This snippet from “London Standard, via the Montreal Gazette, 3 May 1912” reporting his death (reference 2).

He died in April 1912, leaving a considerable fortune. His death was reported far and wide, including papers in many parts of England and Ireland.

London Evening Standard – Thursday 06 June 1912 from “https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk”.

Note the reference to “William Harris No. 2”, that is, his second son, to whom he left all his property. I wonder what all the other sons thought – and the four daughters?

I am glad that the flamboyant house of this extraordinary man still stands. The architect was Francis John Hames, who also designed Leicester Town Hall. So you see what kind of league Mr Harris was in.

Reference 1: Thanks to British History Online who alerted me to The Sausage King: ‘St John Street: Introduction; west side’, in Survey of London: Volume 46, South and East Clerkenwell, ed. Philip Temple (London, 2008), pp. 203-221. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vol46/pp203-221 [accessed 8 April 2022].

Reference 2: The piece from the Montreal Gazette is online at https://charlespearce.org/people/william-harris.html

I have drawn extensively in this area, both in St John St and around the meat market.

Here are my drawings of and around Smithfield meat market:

Bristol – Jacobs Wells Road Dance Centre and former baths

Here is the Bristol Community Dance Centre on the Jacobs Wells Road.

Bristol Community Dance Centre, Jacobs Wells Road. 12:15, 23rd March 2022 in Sketchbook 11

This is building is special for me. Here I learned how to stand up straight, and I learned where my feet were. Or rather, I learned how to learn those physical things, or I learned that they could be learned. My teacher was a dancer, Helen Roberts.

Earlier on, many years previously, in another town, in a different life, I had been to a performance by London Contemporary Dance Theatre. There I saw, for the first time, movement as language. The way I described it to myself was: “First they teach you a language, then they talk to you in it.” That, for me, was Contemporary Dance. Once I’d seen it, I wanted to do it.

Life events unfolded and I was in another town, another life. And still, the idea of Contemporary Dance remained. Searching through printed events listings, in fuzzy type on thin paper, I found a Contemporary Dance class, for beginners. It was in Bristol, half an hour’s train journey from Bath, where I was living. So I turned up to this building, with shoulders hunched from stress and aching from desk work, and body strong from running and swimming, but uncoordinated. Without ceremony or introduction, the class started. This was the early 1980s.

I kept on with the beginners’ class, for years. It didn’t get any easier, but I felt that I was learning something. Recently I found a word for what I was learning: kinaesthesia, awareness of where my hands and feet are.

Helen Roberts was up at the front, calmly demonstrating the movements. Sometimes there was recorded music, once or twice a drummer. Sometimes she simply counted or sung a rhythmic click-type song. I copied the movements as best I could, and tried to follow her directions. Arms up, arms wide. “Arms wide” she repeated, with a bit of a glance my way. I was concentrating. My arms are wide. “My arms are wide” I said to myself, “just like Helen’s!”.

“Look at your shadow” suggested Helen, gently. There weren’t any mirrors. I looked at my shadow and I saw me. Rather than ‘soaring bird’, I was ‘drooping tree’. I lifted up my arms. It felt far too high, far too difficult. And that was the beginning. Holding your arms out wide is hard, it takes practice, it takes proprioception, which (I now know) is the sense of where your limbs are in space. It can be learnt, improved, refined, made easier, made more intuitive. I’m still learning.

I learned what it feels like to stand up straight, to line up my spine, to tauten my legs. I learned to “uncurl” from a deep fold into this upright standing position. It’s a pleasant feeling. We did it again and again in this beginners’ class. I did it again and again also outside the class, and it helped me: movement as medicine.

Life moved on again, another town, a different life, moving from place to place.
Now it’s 35 years later. I’m getting older and need to stretch stiffening muscles, aching joints. I have a sequence of exercises given to me by an NHS physio after an injury. In the sequence was that very same uncurling exercise: medicine as dance. With the remembered movement came Helen Roberts’ voice, instructing me, encouraging me.

I incorporate several more of Helen Roberts’ movements into my routine now. I reach upwards, the energy “flowing along the arm and out of the fingertips” as she described all those years ago. Although I don’t know quite what that means, I find it makes a difference to think of it that way: a static movement made dynamic.

I hold my arms out wide, and catch a glimpse of my shadow. I check that my arms are really out there, in the widest possible preparation for an embrace. Even if I don’t do it perfectly, I know now how to learn. I know there is something there to learn, even in this simple movement. And I do it again, and again, with more knowledge, more awareness. It is strangely satisfying.

Helen Roberts – if you are reading this, thank you!

Here are some photos of the dance centre now, and work in progress on the drawing. It seems that the dance centre is closed. It looked closed when I saw it.

Here’s a map:

Sketch map of Bristol Harbour area showing the Jacob Wells Road and sightline of the drawing.

Here is a 2012 video of Helen dancing and describing her work:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJxSshFh6PM&ab_channel=JudithJarvisgyroscopic

Bristol – St Mary Redcliffe BS1

Walking back to Bristol Temple Meads I stopped by the “Thekla” boat and music venue. Much of Bristol docklands area has changed radically in the last 35 years, in appearance and use. But the Thekla is still there, still in the same place, still a music venue, although the music has changed somewhat. I looked across the water as I thought these things, and saw St Mary Redcliffe.

St Mary Redcliffe from The Grove car park, next to Thekla, 23rd March 4pm in Sketchbook 11
The future: “Redcliffe Wharf” – photo from https://www.generatorgroup.co.uk/development/redcliffe-wharf/

St Mary Redcliffe has been there since the 12th century. The current building dates from the 13th and 14th century, and the spire was rebuilt in 1872.

On the left of my drawing, the building with the graffiti, that’s the last remaining undeveloped parts of the docks. The vans and lorries parked in front of it turned out to be a film crew. As I walked past, I saw the big hoardings advertising the redevelopment of the site to become “Redcliffe Wharf”. The developer’s website tells me:

This exciting development is the last direct waterside location on Bristol’s Harbourside. Once complete the development will create around 41,000 sq ft of highly sustainable Grade A office accommodation plus 45 two and three bedroom apartments, two waterside restaurants and space for local businesses.

website for the “Redcliffe Wharf” redevelopment

As I was drawing, a person came and stood, for quite some considerable time so it seemed to me, directly in my field of view. This person was a member of a group. They all walked past, saw me sitting on the kerbstone drawing, and then wondered what I was drawing and went to have a look across the water for themselves. This particular person then chose to align themselves exactly in front of me, adjusting a camera and taking multiple shots. I practised Zen patience, cleaned my palette, mixed some colour, looked at the seagulls, and waited. Then I decided to take a photo.

When I finished my drawing, I walked on into the picture, and past St Mary Redcliffe.

I hope the redevelopment does not touch the beautiful tranquil garden at the top of the hill.

Map from about 2005, showing the sightline of the drawing
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