Bastion House EC2 from 88 Wood Street

I sketched this from the outside tables at 88 Wood Street. A small coffee shop run by Dartbrooke Coffee has opened in this office block. The coffee was superb, the welcome warm, and they had a selection of food. Also they had tables both indoors and out. Here’s the view from an outdoor table overlooking London Wall.

Bastion House EC2 from 88 Wood Street, 6th September 2022 in Sketchbook 12

I liked all the angles.

That’s rain you see in the sky. I had to pack up quickly as the rain came down.

Rain on the painting!

This picture took 1hour 10 minutes up to the point in the photo above when it started raining. Then another 20 minutes at my desk to finish off.

Here’s a map. The building on the left of my drawing is 200 Aldersgate, a huge office block.

Map showing where I was sketching and my viewpoint.

Bastion House is the monolith in the centre of the picture, with the Barbican Highwalks below leading to the Museum of London.

Bastion House, the Highwalks, and the Museum of London are all under threat of demolition by the City of London and replacement with three huge office blocks, overshadowing the Barbican. All the bridges will be removed, and all the highwalks in this area. This is not a good idea, in my view, and I support the residents’ call to the City to stop and think. Do we need yet more huge office blocks…really? Can we not refurbish the existing buildings, as has happened successfully to nearby blocks?

Here are some other sketches of Bastion House:

Bastion House from Podium Level

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…

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Bastion House, London Wall

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…

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Cornwall Road, London SE1 – packaging print

Here is another packaging print. This one shows Bridge ELR-XTD Structure 20 on Cornwall Road (N) between Charing Cross and Waterloo East, South East London. The road that leads off to the left is Sandell Street SE1. The road under the bridge is Cornwall Road.

The print is made using the intaglio process. The plate is a milk carton.

Railway bridge on Cornwall Road, SE1, Packaging print made on 3rd September 2022, about A3 size

Here is the plate, front and back:

The plate is made by peeling away the metallic substance inside the milk carton, then painting it with shellac to make it stronger. I describe the process in this post.

I used traditional etching ink, “Shop mix – Bone Black” from Intaglio Printmaker, whose shop, as it happens, is not far from this railway bridge.

Here’s a video of the print being peeled away:

Here is the print and the plate:

Plate (left) and print (right)
Print (left) and plate (right)

The plate made 8 prints.

Here is detail of the print:

For more of my prints made with packaging material, click on this link:

Bastion House, 140 London Wall

Earlier this month, I made a quick sketch of Bastion House, from London Wall.

140 London Wall, Bastion House, sketched 2nd August 2022 from London Wall, in sketchbook 12

Here’s a map:

The architect was Philip Powell of Powell and Moya. The building was completed in 1976. I like this building. It reminds me of the “obelisk” in the film “2001 – A Space Odessey”.

The City of London have the idea that they are going to demolish this building, and the Museum of London next to it, and build three large office blocks: bigger and wider than the existing buildings, providing some 750sq ft of commercial office space.

This mystifies many of us, as we witness empty office blocks all around this location. It also angers us, as such huge buildings will take sun from the residential estate to the North. There seems to be a case for pausing the proposed project, and considering renovation of the existing buildings. Renovation would be better from a carbon emissions point of view, as demolition and construction are a large source of carbon dioxide emissions.

There is a co-ordinated movement to ask the City of London to think again. The website is here: https://www.londonstartshere.co.uk/

I have sketched these threatened buildings before:

Bastion House, London Wall

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 part of the Barbican, “The Postern”. Behind them is the Barber-Surgeons’ Hall on Monkwell Square,…

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Bastion House from Podium Level

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 road to a car park. Also you see the bridge that crosses London Wall. http://postwarbuildings.com…

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St Pauls and Bastion House

I am sketching the views out of the window. 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 have drawn Bastion House before: This drawing took rather a long time as I stopped a couple of times. As a result, by the time…

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St Giles and Bastion House

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, studious-looking or flamboyant, quiet or talkative, smart or windblown, old or young, all were there.…

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The Museum of London EC2

From the highwalk on the Rotunda there is a really amazing view of the Museum of London and Bastion House. This whole view going to change radically, if the City of London plans are approved. The Museum of London is in the South West corner of the Barbican. It was designed by Philip Powell and Hidalgo Moya. The Museum opened in 1976. The City of London plan to close it…

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Great Suffolk Street, Railway arch

Huge brick arches carry the railway lines into Waterloo Station. Here is a view looking North up Great Suffolk Street.

Great Suffolk Street railway arch, monoprint #3 of 6. Printed image size 12″ x 9″. On Fabriano Unica paper, 20″ x14″

This is a packaging monoprint. It is an intaglio print from a “plate” made from a milk carton. Here is the plate:

I’ve described the process in this blog post: Print plates made of packaging. The basic method is to use the shiny metallic surface inside the carton. I cut out the shapes I want and peel back the shiny surface to reveal a rougher surface which takes the ink. The yellow colour you see on the plate is shellac, a varnish that I paint on to make the plate last a little longer.

The plates are quite fragile, and can only make a limited number of prints. Here is number 6:

Great Suffolk Street railway arch, monoprint #6 of 6. Printed image size 12″ x 9″. On Agawami Washi Kitakata Japanese paper, 20″ x1 4″

I made all the prints on the Henderson press at East London Printmakers, Stepney. I used Chabonnel F66 traditional oil-based etching ink.

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

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.

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:

Colechurch House – monoprint

Colechurch House on the South Bank is a brutalist office block. It makes a good subject for a packaging print. Since it is a a 1960s block, I added a 1960s type shape in chine collé.

Colechurch House – monoprint and chine collé, paper size,15″ x 12″ Shoji Baku Japanese Paper

The chine collé paper is Khadi Lokta Coloured saffron washi paper from Atlantis Art (ref: KPNI SA). The background paper for this print is Shoji Baku paper from Shepherds Bookbinders (ref: LRG 1859). The ink is Charbonnel traditional etching ink. I printed this on the Henderson Press at East London Printmakers. Here is a video of the “print reveal” (17seconds, silent):

Thanks to Evonne at East London Printmakers for filming me!

Here are the other 4 prints from this plate. They are all on a different, but similar paper: Tosa Washi from Shepherds, (ref: J632180)

The print was based on a sketch of Colechurch House last year. See this post:

Colechurch House, London Bridge SE1

Aficionados of 20th Century brutalist architecture need to hasten to appreciate Colechurch House. It is due for demolition and redevelopment. This month’s post in the marvellous “London Inheritance” site informed me about the planning application, so I rushed over there to draw a picture before the building became swathed in plastic. I drew this picture looking over the railings from London Bridge. This position commanded an excellent view of Colechurch House, but … Continue reading “Colechurch House, London Bridge SE1”

Here are more examples of the technique using a plate made from packaging material. I have written about the process here.

39 Clerkenwell Road, EC1

Here is a row of shops on the Clerkenwell Road.

Roni’s Café, 39 Clerkenwell Road, 15th Feb 2022, 10″ x 8″ in Sketchbook 11

In the centre of the picture is Roni’s Café, where I sheltered to finish my drawing of 84 Clerkenwell Road.

My idea was to draw the view looking West along the Clerkenwell Road, from number 84. By the time I reached the spot, the rain was falling heavily. I spotted a large window. The people inside kindly agreed to host me for 45 minutes while I sketched my lines. Then I went out into the rain. I finished the picture at my desk.

Colours are: Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Umber, Transparent Pyrrol Orange.

London Television Centre – monoprint

Here’s another “packaging” monoprint. This was made using an empty box of tissues.

London Television Centre, monoprint from packaging, image size 14″ x 10″ [Available]

This is a tower block on the South bank of the river Thames, seen from the North bank. That’s the river in the foreground.

Here is the “plate”, before printing:

I have sketched this tower block here:

It’s due for demolition. So using discarded packaging to make an image of this building seemed to be appropriate. The building, though made of concrete and steel, is yet ephemeral, like my fragile plate.

I made the print on “Gampi smooth” paper from Shepherds of London. This handmade paper is thin, translucent, and has small inclusions and imperfections as you see on this detail photo:

The sky in this part of London is never empty. There are always seagulls, falling leaves, windswept paper, aeroplanes, police helicopters. And rain.

The ink for this print is Charbonnel F66 Black traditional etching ink from Intaglio Printmakers. I made the print at East London Printmakers on the Henderson etching press.

London Weekend Television, London South Bank. Paper is a bit over A3 size.

Here are some other prints made using the same technique:

Packaging monoprints

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