St Giles’ Church and Shakespeare Tower

Here is a sketch from a staircase from the Barbican Podium, just outside the Dentists but just inside the old London Wall.

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Parts of the Roman London Wall are in the foreground, 2nd century AD.

St Giles’ has Roman foundations and is much rebuilt. The church we see now is the 1966 restoration following designs of  architect Godfrey Allen (1891-1986). He used historic plans to make the church as much as possible like the medeival original.  It had been burned by incendiary bombs in 1940.

In the background is Shakespeare Tower, Barbican, completed 1976, to the designs of Chamberlain, Powell and Bonn.

St Giles’ Church is “St Giles’-without-Cripplegate”. As you can see from the picture, the Church is outside London Wall. Here is an extract from the St Giles’ website.

The foundations are generally Roman but higher up, the structure dates from various times as it was regularly strengthened and rebuilt….
As the population of the parish increased, the church was enlarged and it was rebuilt in the Perpendicular Gothic style in 1394, during the reign of Richard II. The stone tower was added in 1682. The church was damaged by fire on three occasions – in 1545, 1897 and 1940…The church was designated a Grade I listed building on 4 January 1950 and it was extensively restored in 1966.  

The bombing of Cripplegate in 1940 was so extensive that barely any buildings remained standing in the entire ward. By 1951, only 48 people were registered as living within the ward. It was this widespread devastation which led to planners envisaging and eventually building the modern Barbican estate and arts centre, starting in 1965.

As I was drawing, I saw that the crenellations on St Giles were echoed high up on Shakespeare Tower.

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The drawing took two hours, pen and wash, in a Jackson’s Watercolour Sketchbook.

7 inches by 10 inches.

I’ve drawn St Giles and Lauderdale Tower: From St Alphage Highwalk EC2

Four sketches while the sun set

Yesterday the rain came with the evening.  I painted indoors.

I had a set of four paper samples from The Vintage Paper Company. Below are my four sketches.

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Each sheet is of “J Green & Sons” paper, in different weights. The one in the top left is “NOT” and the other sheets are “Rough”. Each sample sheet is about 8 inches by 6 inches.

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Here is a view towards Peregrine House, to show the satellite dishes on the roof. I also drew Peregrine House last week, see this link: Peregrine House from the King’s Square Estate

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The hole in the top left corner is where the sheets were fastened together, with a neat little screw fastener.

This was the only paper in the same pack with a ‘NOT’ (smoother) surface. Here is a close up view of the satellite dishes. On the NOT surface I can use pen easily. Pen and ink doesn’t work so well on the “Rough” surface. Here’s a close-up, showing Peregrine House and the satellite dishes on the building in front of it.

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Below is a sketch out of the window in the rain: watercolour only, on the “Rough” surface 300gsm paper. Blake Tower is on the right, Post office Tower on the horizon, Barbican terrace block visible behind Blake Tower.

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Forty-five minutes later, the sun was setting. I enjoyed using heavier paper (400gsm) to try to capture the shimmering light on the buildings. Painted directly in watercolour, no pen, no pencil.

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Below is the final sketch, done quickly after the sun has set. This is on the heaviest paper, a magnificent 615gsm. It was stable, like card, so it didn’t curl or misbehave,  and was not soft or absorbent, but took the watercolour brilliantly.  It was very handy for such a quick sketch.

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It’s fun to experiment with papers, and surprising what a difference the paper makes. Thankyou to the Vintage Paper Co for the samples.

 

 

 

 

Peregrine House from the King’s Square Estate

At 27 stories, Peregrine House and Michael Cliffe House are the two tallest towers owned by Islington Council. This sketch shows Peregrine House, an Islington Council residential tower, visible from my window.  It is on Hall St, just off the Goswell Road. The view is looking North towards Peregrine House. I was standing in the Kings Square Estate, another Islington Council Estate, next to Rahere House.

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Peregrine House was finished in 1969. It is part of the City Road Estate, together with Kestrel Tower. I have drawn Kestrel Tower previously, see this link: Towers of Finsbury – Rahere and Kestrel. See the different brick colours on Peregrine Tower: the more yellow brick for most of the balconies, and the more red-coloured brick for the balconies across the top and around the sides.

The solid neo-Georgian block in front of Peregrine House is “Level 3 communications” a data centre and communications hub. In 2011 they applied to Islington Council for permission to install 5 steel flues. The permission was granted and the flues are on the back (north) of the building, not shown in the sketch. As part of the consideration of the permission, the building is described as “1930s”. I haven’t yet found out what it was before it was a data centre. It looks like a telephone exchange or electricity substation. I drew the back of this building in the Kestrel Tower sketch: Towers of Finsbury – Rahere and Kestrel

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Photo from the Level 3 application to install satellite dishes. I think that’s Micheal Cliffe House in the distance.

Level 3 also applied for permission to install 4 satellite dishes on the south side of the building. The application is undated, and no indication is given of the outcome. This application was “retrospective”. Link to their application is here:  Level 3 Application for Satellite Dishes

I was looking at the South face of the Level 3 building and I couldn’t see any satellite dishes.

 

In the foreground, right, of my sketch, is the blank end-wall of 6 Moreland Street, an Arhag Housing Association residential building, which looks like a late 1970s development.

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The Kings Square Phase 2 development, picture from the Higgins Construction website. It’s a bit hard to tell, but I think that’s a similar sightline to the one in my sketch, with Peregrine House in the background. Picture credit: Pollard Thomas Edwards architects.

In the foreground on the left, work is in progress on “Kings Square Phase 2” which a hoarding informed me was “93 new homes”, which are “51 council homes and 42 for private ownership”. Completion is due in 2020, and they’ve already got the concrete frame up. The construction workers were working hard and calling to each other while I sketched, issuing instructions and shouting warnings in several languages, including English. The contract was awarded to Higgins Construction plc in February 2017: £30 million.

The sketch took 90 minutes: half an hour each for pencil, pen and watercolour. Done in Jackson Watercolour sketch book, 8 by 10 inches.

If the lighting looks flat and there is a complete absence of shadows, that’s because the lighting was flat and there was a complete absence of shadows. It was that kind of a day.

Later note:

I saw the satellite dishes on the Level 3 building, they are high up on the roof and not visible from ground level.

Here they are:

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Sketch 28 May 2018, from my window.

 

 

St Mary’s Tower

This sketch shows St Mary’s Tower, in the Roscoe Street Estate. Prior Weston School is in front, with its first floor playing pitches festooned in black net. The pinnacle of St Luke’s is just to the right of St Mary’s Tower, followed by “Cannaletto” the black and white striped modern tower block, then Coltash Court, the tower block at the north end of Whitecross Street . The south of Whitecross St is to the far right of the picture. The tower block in the background on the right is Godfrey House.

St Mary’s Tower was built on church land by the Peabody Trust. It was completed in 1957. The architect was John Grey and Partner.

St Mary’s Church was built in 1868, but was then demolished having been badly damaged in the Second World War.

The Tower now forms part of the Roscoe Street Estate, managed by Islington.

This information from a report by Publica, 2010, on the Whitecross Street Estate. 20120821FLP38WhitecrossStreetPublicareport2011

Sketched from the Barbican podium, in about 2 hours. A cool, sunny spring afternoon, with the wind curling the paper. Jackson’s watercolour sketchbook, 7 inches by 10 inches.

St Mary’s Tower features in my etching “Towers East”.

Ironmonger Row Baths, and the Carrara Tower

On a lovely warm day I walked into the gardens of St Luke’s and drew a picture.

IMG_3461The red brick building is the Ironmonger Row Baths designed by AWS Cross, opened in 1931 as public baths (for washing – not swimming!) and laundry. They were needed because:

“The case seemed unarguable given the statistics presented by the new Baths and Washhouses Committee. Of 20,005 families in the borough, 4917 shared a single room and 7253 lived in two rooms. Of 12,000 dwellings, just 500 – only 4 per cent – had private baths.”

This was less than 90 years ago – my parents’ generation. The data is quoted by the wonderful website “Municipal Dreams” on the link below:

https://municipaldreams.wordpress.com/2013/02/19/ironmonger-row-baths-healthy-recreation-and-personal-cleanliness/

The Baths have recently (c. 2013) been refurbished and now have swimming pools and a spa and gym. They are still owned and run by the local authority, Islington.

The tall tower is the 42-storey Carrara Tower of the 250 City Road development, by Foster + Partners, under construction.

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IMG_3461(crop2)The shorter tower at the back on the right is Canaletto, which must be one of the hardest towers in London to draw. Those weird curved structures defeat my sense of perspective. Perhaps that’s the idea.

This architectural masterpiece, created by internationally-acclaimed UNStudio, has set a new standard for residential developments in London. (CanalettoLondon.com)

The building on the left of the picture is Burnhill House, run by Keniston Housing Association. Residents here are running a campaign to try to moderate plans to redevelop Finsbury leisure centre, which is off to the left of my drawing, and in front their building. Their banners adorn their balconies.

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Protest banners at Burnhill House. From Camden new Journal, September 2017.

https://saveoursunlight.wordpress.com

In the centre front of the drawing is a strange cage-type object on a stalk.

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This is a bird-feeder, enclosed in a wire cube. It looks like a cage or house, or an artwork. Birds do go in there. I watched them.

About one and a half hours, drawn and coloured on location. Double page spread in Jackson’s watercolour book.

Brunswick Place N1

Brunswick Place is a seam in North London, joining the fin-tech offices of Old Street to the social housing estates of the 1950s.

Here is the North side of Brunswick Place, seen from Charles Square.

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You see the Prince Arthur pub in the foreground, behind the ‘No Entry’ sign. The pub looks as though it has been there forever. In “pubshistory.com” (an amazing resource) licensees are listed back to 1841.

In the background, The Atlas Building is under construction.

In between, the pinkish building is an old office block with iron-framed windows, called “Jordan House”, occupied by 4 different businesses. Behind this is a brand new brown building, with groovy vertical windows making little triangular prisms.

A man came by with two bulky bags of shopping. He told me about the brown building in the picture. He said it was originally built to house Kings College staff and students. But that didn’t work. Now it is shared office space on the ground floor. “You know,” he said, the type where you just get a cubicle, battery hens!” And on the top, he said “it’s mostly women…”, he paused, “…from Korea”. The brand name on the side of this building is “Scape”, I had been looking at it. I didn’t put the writing in the picture. The man continued, “And you know the Q hotel? On Corsham Street? The Chinese are in there.” He paused again, waiting to see my reaction. I did my best to look interested. I was wondering where he was going with this. “We don’t get Anti-Social Behaviour!” he said. Good international relations in Shoreditch, evidently.

He had been living in the area for 40 years, he said, working for the Health Service. He had watched that brown building going up. The people in the building opposite, Vince Court*, had complained about the noise. “They were pile driving” he said, “Saturday, Sunday.”.

He pointed to a bright silver anti-climb device on Vince Court, all curved spikes. He had no time for the Local Authority, who had apparently sanctioned this device.  “It’s awful,” he said, “gives a very bad impression.” It did. Not only did it look awful, it was also ineffective. I had a look on my way home after the picture. The spikes are on top of a wall. But you can easily walk around the wall.

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Screen shot from ‘Scape’ website: Is this Korean?

When I was home, I looked up “Scape” on the web. They provide accommodation for students. You rent a room for a year (“51 weeks”). The website is in English and another language.

My drawing is a bit lopsided, with only the right side of the street showing. That is because a white van obscured the left side. While I was drawing, the engine started, and the van stayed there, by the kerb, with the engine running. It was still there, engine running, when I left. I never saw anyone get in or out.

Outside the Prince Arthur pub, there are a collection of bollards. One is shown in the picture. Two of these bollards are cannon. In the background of the middle picture you see the offensive anti-climb spikes on Vince Court.

About 1 hour. Drawn and coloured on location. 6 degrees C.

I have drawn the Atlas Building before. See: this blog post from 16 March this year.

*Vince Court is off the picture, to the left.