Lerwick Lodberries

Here is a view of houses in Lerwick known as “lodberries”. They are built into the sea. Lerwick is one of the few capital cities in the world that has a beach. The other I know is Sydney Australia. The beach in Lerwick is somewhat smaller than Bondi beach, and is over the wall to the right of my picture.

I drew this picture sitting on a bench next to the aptly named “Water Lane”. I was just thinking how peaceful it was, how few people, and how unlike London, when a car came and parked directly in my line of sight, blocking my view of the part I had yet to draw. A small family emerged out of the car. Children ran around with buckets and spades, a woman corralled them down the steps and onto the beach. A man got out of the driver’s seat and saw me. He smiled. It was a sunny day. I smiled a mixed smile. Suddenly he saw that I was drawing. “Oh!” he said, “Shall I move the car?” I said yes, that would be very kind. Without any hesitation he jumped back into the driver’s seat, fired up the engine and parked in a space up the road. He waved to me as he walked to join his family down on the beach. I waved back.

Commercial Street, Lerwick. Lodberries. July 24th 2021, in Sketchbook P1 double spread: 14″ x 10″ approx. 1½ hours on location

Here is work in progress:

Here are some maps to show the location. I have also included maps showing where Shetland is, since people have asked. It is about 100 miles off the north coast of Scotland. From Aberdeen it is some 250 miles (400km) and takes 13 hours by ferry. Shetland is at a more Northerly latitude than Oslo and Stavanger, nearer Bergen than Aberdeen and nearer Copenhagen (590 miles) than London (600 miles).

Here is a view of the North Sea approaching Aberdeen. See the wind turbines.

Shetland 2021 -scenes from a run

I came back from a run with my head full of images. I put them into pictures.

Scenes from a run, 27th June 2021, in Sketchbook P1

I enjoyed using a new colour: Lunar Blue from Daniel Smith. This is a highly granulating blue. You can see its effect here in the sky:

And here is Lunar Blue the sea:

Patch of light on the sea

A feature of the landscape round Littleure is the inland lakes, high up on the cliffs, as shown here on the right. On the sea, the sun shines through the clouds like a spotlight, which enchants me. In that picture you also see the granulating colour in the land: this is Green Apatite Genuine.

It was a misty day.

Over the brow of a hill, I see islands. It’s the end of the run. Time for a dip, and breakfast.

Shetland 2021 – Fish farm debris

On the coast near a place called Breiwick, The Quilse, there is a heap of strange tubes. These are from the local salmon farm.

Fish farm debris. 18th July 2021 in Sketchbook P1

They make huge loops in landscape.

These black tubes seem to be indestructible. People find all sorts of uses for them: fence posts, cattle grids, boat slipways. I imagine they would make rather fine musical instruments. I have never heard of anyone using them for this.

But their primary use is to create the salmon cages that float out on the shallow seas in the area.

Picture from “Scottish Salmon Think Tank” website. See how big the structures are!

I saw these tubes on a walk from the Historic Site. I’ve drawn in this location before. In this sketch, you see the black tubes as the small scratchy lines in the centre distance.

Fish farm debris, 13th August 2019

Shetland 2021 – Burrastow House

Here is Burrastow House near Walls on the West side of Shetland. It was built in 1759.

Burrastow House, from the garden. 20 July 2021. 10″ x 8 “

One of the delights of the house is that it has been adapted over the years. Here is a view from the vegetable garden. You see the different roof levels.

Burrastow House from the vegetable garden. 13th July 2021. 10″ x 8″

The white curved area on the left is a segment of the polytunnel. The grey circular item is the oil tank. Above that, the small circle is the satellite dish. I like the way you can see right through two windows, in the room on the top right of the picture.

Here is a view from the garden near the driveway.

Burrastow House, from the garden near the entrance. July 14th 2021

While I was drawing this, a Jaguar E-type throbbed up the drive. I put it in the picture. This was a misty day. I had to pause the work on the picture as the mist turned to rain, and then I resumed as the rain turned to mist again.

You see the front conservatory in the centre and the extension to the left. The extension dates from 1995, according to a small notice in the conservatory.

“This extension

was officially opened

by Canon Lewis Smith

Convener S.I.C

15th September 1995″

All these sketches are in PrintUrchin Sketchbook number 1, on Arches paper, 300gsm, Cold-pressed.

Here are pictures of work-in-progress:

I have sketched Burrastow House on previous visits:

Shetland 2021 – Coastal rocks

The rocks on the Shetland west side cleave at a very specific angle.

Skerries of Easter Paill, 15th July 2021 on Amatruda paper.

I picked up a pebble on the beach. Many of the pebbles show this pointed regular shape. It gave me great pleasure to find that the angle matched my drawing. It is approximately 70 degrees.

The angle is visible even in the large cliffs.

Rocks at the entrance to the Seal Lagoon, 15th July 2021

Here is this sketch in progress:

The strange object in the top right of the drawing is not a drone, a cormorant, a flying fish or a small airship. It is a mistake. When I closed the sketchbook to continue my walk, some wet paint transferred itself from the left hand page to the right.

Shetland 2021: Birds

Here is a herring gull. These are numerous and float on the sea as well as fly in the air. They also stand on cars and on chimneys. This one stands on a wall, waiting for someone to come out of the kitchen, ideally with a slice of bread.

Herring gull

Then there are the oystercatchers. They fly but don’t swim. They poke around in the seaweed, and, amazingly, also use those long beaks on the lawn, to dig up worms.

Oystercatcher

I started drawing the birds when I saw a wonderful picture in The Shetland Times. It showed a “Long tailed Skua”, described as a “rare passage migrant”. Here is my version, inspired by the photo in The Shetland Times by Jim Nicholson.

Long tailed Skua, rare passage migrant

All drawn in watercolour on Amatruda paper, size A5, using Daniel Smith watercolours.

The Captain Kidd, Wapping, E1

After breakfast at the Turk’s Head ( see this post ) I went down to the river. The tide was out. I sat on the Thames foreshore and sketched The Captain Kidd.

The Captain Kidd, Wapping E1. 12.10pm 14 June 2021. 7″ x10″ in Sketchbook 10

The Captain Kidd is the building at the front. It’s a pub and restaurant. The larger building behind is “St John’s Wharf”, a warehouse now converted into flats.

The “Captain Kidd” is named after a “seventeenth century pirate William Kidd who was executed [in 1701] at the nearby Execution Dock” according to various websites e.g. The Londonist.

However there is no “nearby Execution Dock”. The carefully researched article on “London Inheritance” concludes that “King Henry’s Stairs” were formerly “Execution Dock” (see note 2). The name was changed in the early 19th century to be better in line with the burgeoning use of the area for trade. The London Inheritance author cannot discover a specific “King Henry” connection. He includes a list of some of the people who were executed here, for crimes at sea including piracy, fighting on board ship, murdering shipmates, and treason.

I note with interest that, these days, the headquarters of the Marine Police are just a few hundred yards upstream. This is a very ancient establishment, which started with a one-year trial in 1798 (note 1).

Here is work in progress on the drawing. See the wonderfully clean Thames foreshore.

I drew my picture in the shade under Wapping pier. Here is a map:

Walking back to the ladder, I collected a handful of porcelain pieces, blue and white. It was as though, years ago, someone threw a china bowl onto the foreshore, and the pieces somehow stayed in the same vicinity, through many tides. Or perhaps it is several bowls.

Note 1: There is a Wikipedia article on the River police: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thames_River_Police

Note 2. The London Inheritance article is here:

Cloud studies

“I’ve looked at clouds..”

Here is a collection of cloud studies. This is me experimenting with “wet on wet” watercolour technique, from my desk. Click the image to see it bigger.

This wet-on-wet technique is a learning curve. For one thing, it makes my desk where I’m working all wet. I’m not yet sure how I’m going to translate this technique into a method I can use on location. I’m working on it. It’s certainly fun to see how the watercolour flows. The technique is a bit unpredictable, like tie-dying, or sourdough baking or surfing. One has to learn to guide rather than control.

I’m learning this wet-on-wet technique from the talented watercolour artist Matthew White in a video I’ve been watching.

Swim hat: St Ives Cornwall

My friends at Sea Swim Cornwall invited me to design a swim hat.

Here it is:

I made two designs of St Ives Harbour, to show the East and the West of the Harbour.

The black and white is for the flag of Cornwall, which you see on the flag on one of the designs.

You can buy the hat, and many other great swimming-related items, from Sea Swim Cornwall: https://www.seaswimcornwall.co.uk/

Thank you to Tom Foreman of Sea Swim Cornwall for providing reference photos, ideas, inspiration, encouragement and practical help.

Here is me modelling the hat in Brighton last week.

I sketched the design on paper, then photographed it and laboriously traced it using “Graphic” which is a diagramming app.

Shetland: Lera Voe phone box

This is the Lera Voe phone box, which is on the road between Burrastow and Walls.

The Lera Voe phone box

The phone box is a landmark. This year it was renovated, and fitted out as a sanctuary and small room. There is no phone in there any more, unless you bring your mobile phone with you.

Henry Anderton did the renovation. His project was partly financed by a reward he obtained for having found a message in a bottle on one of his beach-cleaning outings. You can read about it in this article from the BBC, published in February 2020.

The article says of Mr Anderton: “He has bought the phonebox, near Walls, for £1 and been supplied with the regulation red paint from BT. He said: “We’ve now launched a crowd funding operation to help out the renovations – we’ve got to find a door first.”

Evidently he found a door, because when I visited in July the phone box was complete, bright red and in great shape. There are shelves and a seat inside.

I wanted to draw the phone box with Lera Voe in the background. This is the view from the field behind the phone box. You can see the voe, and the hills beyond. The road is just behind the phone box in my drawing. “Voe” is a Shetland word meaning “sea inlet”.

Here is work in progress on the drawing.

Here is the article from the BBC mentioned above, as a PDF file.

I have drawn phone boxes before.

Here is a group of phone boxes in Smithfield, London:

Phone boxes in Smithfield, EC1, London. See this blog post.

Here is one in Austin Friars, EC2, London: see this blog post.

These phone boxes , which were called Telephone Kiosks, were designed by Giles Gilbert-Scott in the 1920s and 30s. Giles Gilbert-Scott was a prolific architect, who also designed Cambridge University Library, the North Wing of the Guildhall in the City of London, and Bankside Power Station which is now Tate Modern.

The phone box at Lera Voe is a “K6” phone box, designed by Gilbert-Scott for the jubilee of George V in 1935, following his successful design of the K2 phone box in 1924. The K6 is distinguished from the K2 by the embossed crown, and the fact that it has 8 rows of windows, rather than the 6 rows of the K2.

It would be possible to date the phone box had I been more careful in drawing the crown. The crown is painted red on the Lera Voe phone box, as it was on the original phones boxes. Only in the 1990s did BT start painting the crowns gold.

There is a whole history of crowns on phone boxes. Here’s a summary [data from Wikipedia and “The K6 project” ]:

  • From 1926 to 1953: the Tudor Crown was used, first on the K2 then on the later editions including the K6.
  • From 1953 onwards: the St Edwards Crown was used, except in Kingston upon Hull
  • Then in 1955 the Scottish Crown started to be used, in Scotland also in certain other places.

So if anyone happens to be passing the Lera Voe phone box, I’d be very grateful for a photograph of the crown, to see which one is on there.

Update:

Thank you to a kind friend for sending the photo below:

Crown on the Lera Voe phone box: clearly a Tudor Crown

This is a Tudor Crown. This phone box therefore was installed some time between 1935 and 1953.

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