Turks Head Café Wapping

Here is the marvellous Turks Head Café, Wapping, rescued from demolition by local residents in the 1980s.

The Turks Head Cafe, in front of St John’s Tower

Inside, I found warmth, quiet tables, and the gentle murmur of conversations: people actually talking to each other. I felt welcome here. The food was marvellous. Next time I’m going to have the Blueberry Tart. I only noticed it after I’d already had the substantial Chicken and Avocado Sandwich.

Inside the Turks Head Café

I went to pay my bill. When I returned to my table, there was a little group of people admiring the sketch (above). I chatted to a man called Mark, who, it turns out, runs the website “lovewapping.org“. We exchanged anecdotes about the representation or otherwise of residents’ views on local councils. His group grapples with Tower Hamlets Council.

Then I went outside to draw the café.

The tower in the background is St Johns Tower. The tower is “all that remains of the parish church of St Johns circa 1756 … the surrounding ground was rebuilt as flats in the 1990s to an attractive design reflecting the previous building on the site” says the Knight Frank website (an estate agent).

This drawing took 1hour 15 mins, done from the pavement by a huge brick wall. The colours are Perinone Orange, Phthalo Turquoise, Mars Yellow and Hansa Yellow Mid. As you see, the front of the cafe faces West, and caught the setting sun.

Here is the wall next to where I was standing.

London Bricks in Wapping.

Bunhill Fields Memorial Buildings

This small building stands peacefully in a garden, surrounded by later developments. It is the local Quaker Meeting House.

According to the very interesting leaflet produced by the Bunhill Quakers, the current building is the sole remnant of a once large establishment, the Memorial Buildings, completed 1881. These Memorial Buildings housed “a coffee Tavern, mission rooms for the adult schools and breakfast meetings, Sunday schools, a medical mission, and a large meeting house”. The construction was funded by money obtained when the Metropolitan Board of Works wanted to widen Roscoe Street, and purchased land owned by the Quakers to do so. Roscoe Street was then called Coleman Street. “The success of the Adult School brought in funds for the erection of an Extension building in 1888”, they write. 300-400 people attended the meeting in those days.

Bombing raids in 1940, ’41, and ’44 destroyed “all but the caretakers’ house”, and the council “re-zoned” the area to “allow only residential building”. Friends Meetings continued, however, and still continue, in the former Caretakers’ House, which is the building I have drawn. As well as the Quaker Meetings, it is the centre for a travelling library. A small notice by the door says that this is the drop-in centre for an organisation called “At Ease” which provides a “Free, independent and confidential advisory service for people in the Armed Forces.”

The leaflet from the Bunhill Quakers is on their website and also here:

I made the drawing from the Quaker Garden on the site of the Bunhill Fields Burial Ground.

The drawing took about 1 hour 30mins. The sky is a new colour: Phthalocyanine Turquoise, a Winsor and Newton colour, pigment PB16. Other colours are Perinone Orange, and Mars Yellow, both Daniel Smith Watercolours. Here is work in progress:

The air temperature was 5 degrees C. That blue sky was not a “warm blue” whatever the photos seem to say.

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, where I have been to give blood. The curved green building on the left is on the other side of London Wall. It is “One London Wall” near the Museum of London Rotunda: multi-use office space.

Bastion House is the huge monolith in the centre of the drawing. It reminds me of the monolith in “2001 – a space odyssey”, and indeed it dates for that period. It was proposed in 1955, and started in 1972, completed in 1976. The architect was Philip Powell of Powell and Moya. This practice also designed the Skylon for the 1951 South Bank Festival of Britain, and Churchill Gardens in Pimlico.

Here is drawing work in progress.

This drawing took me about 2 hours. This is my first drawing in a new sketchbook: the “Perfect Sketchbook” from Etchr. This will be Urban Sketching sketchbook number 6.

I have sketched Bastion House before:

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, … Continue reading “St Giles and Bastion House”

Canada House from the National Gallery

Here’s a quick sketch of Canada House on Trafalgar Square, seen though the modern windows of the National Gallery Sainsbury wing.

While I sketched, I overheard fragments of conversations: “I was dating a Chinese girl, and she was taller than me…..”, and someone on a mobile phone: “It needs to be connected to the WiFi…yes…though why one would want the dishwasher… I don’t know!”

About 30mins pen and ink on location, colour added later.

Equestrian Statue of William III

This statue is in the centre of St James’ Square, SW1, London.

William III is William of Orange. He was King of England, Scotland and Ireland from 1688 to 1702. The statue was originally proposed in 1687. It was completed in 1807, which is the date on the plinth. There were a number of delays. The first commissioned sculptor, John Bacon Senior, died. The sculpture was eventually created by his son John Bacon junior.

As you see, the statue has green highlights. This is how it was. It is bronze, which is an alloy of copper and tin: tin 12% roughly. The green is verdigris: a mixture of copper compounds. Wikipedia is lyrical on the subject:

“Verdigris is a variable chemical mixture of compounds, complexes and water. The primary components are copper salts of acetate, carbonate, chloride, formate, hydroxide, and sulphate…..All the components are in an ever-changing and complex reaction equilibrium that is dependent on the ambient environment.”

Wikipedia entry for verdigris

This makes it sound like a 21st century environmental art project.

Written on the plinth is: GVLIELMUS. III. And on the other side:


The sketch took about half an hour. Colours are mostly Phthalo Green, Prussian Blue, and Perinone orange. In Jackson Watercolour sketchbook.

Hermitage Moorings and The Shard

Walking east, downriver, the crowds left behind, suddenly there is space and silence.

Hermitage Moorings, with the boat “Twee Artsen”

This drawing is a view across the river from the North bank. Tower Bridge is just off to the right. Opposite you see The Shard, and the waterfront buildings of Hays Galleria. The curved building in the background houses the Greater London Authority (GLA).

In the foreground is the boat which is called “Twee Artsen”. As far as I can work out, that is Dutch for “Two Doctors”, as in medical practitioners. It seems a strange name for a boat, so perhaps I got that wrong. Can anyone advise me?

This was a lovely place to draw.

The drawing took about half an hour. The sky is cobalt blue, knocked back a bit with Naples Yellow Red. There’s some Mars Yellow and Perinone Orange for the masts of the boats. The Thames is Cobalt blue with Burnt Umber. The boat black is made from Phthalo Green (BS) and Perylene Maroon. There’s some Hansa Yellow Mid in there too, for the lower sky. Quite a lot of colours in this one. The Naples Yellow Red is a Rembrandt colour, all the rest are Daniel Smith.

Where Hermitage Moorings is.

The Eastern Cluster from Tower Wharf

I went down to the river to find the sun. It was there, flooding the North side of the Thames, and so were an extraordinary number of tourists.

But who can blame them? The city was looking clear cut and perfect, there was a slight haze in the distance, a blue sky, and a low golden sun. I stopped by The Tower, and admired Tower Bridge, as everyone else was doing. Then I looked the other way, and saw the towers of the City.

From left to right: 22Bishopsgate (the tallest), the Cheesegrater, the Scalpel, the Gherkin.

I enjoyed the fact that you can see the pollarded trees and the chimneys of the buildings of the Tower of London, in front of the skyscrapers. The lower, pointed building, just to the left of the Gherkin, is the former headquarters of the Admiralty. Samuel Pepys (1633 – 1703), who wrote the diaries, worked there. This building is now an upmarket hotel.

The castellations in the foreground are part of the Tower of London.

The colours used are Cobalt Blue, Burnt Umber, and Mars Yellow, all Daniel Smith watercolours.

This drawing took about an hour, drawn and coloured on location.