Gilded Bronze Gerfalcon

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Woodcut, after a statue seen in the British Museum “Sicily Culture and Conquest” exhibition, 24 April 2016. He stood about 12 inches high and dates from 1200AD or so.

This woodcut is done in Shminke Prussian blue AquaLino relief ink, on the marvellous Albion press at East London Printmakers. Fabriano Unica Cream paper from Great Art. Woodcut block 16cm by 11cm from Intaglio Printmaker.

Hide Tower from Vincent Square

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This 1961 tower block contrasts with the 19th Century buildings of Vincent Square. It is in SW1, Westminster, near Tate Modern.

An “early use” of pre-cast concrete according to Pevsner(1), who also tells me that the architect was Stillman and Eastwick Field for Westminster City Council. I went and looked through the “long bands of fenestration” at the “Brutalist exposed staircase”.

The Hide Tower Resident Management Board is composed of, and run by, residents, according to their website.
They say:

We are responsible for providing the residents of Hide Tower with these services

day-to-day repairs
cleaning
letting flats
mutual exchanges
tenancy checks
management transfers
admitting or denying right to buy applications
parking
emergencies
complaints
general enquiries

CityWest Homes is responsible for

collecting rent from tenants
taking legal action against residents, if necessary

From “A letter from Pimlco”  (sic) website, written by people who live in the tower, I learned that:

Approximately a quarter of the accommodation is privately rented; the other half is rented from Westminster City Council and the remainder is owner occupied.

I thought it was interesting that the residents themselves, via their Board, are responsible for “admitting or denying right-to-buy” applications. I wonder what their criteria are.

While I drew this picture, there was continual drilling coming from the basement of the house to the right of the picture. They were evidently excavating the basement. Piles of rubble were in the front garden. As I walked past, I smelt pine sawdust.

Behind me were cheers and shouts of encouragement to players of a team game on the grass of Vincent Square. Young people in purple and grey uniforms walked past. One young man with a rucksack said to me, “It’s really great, what you are drawing, really great”. That was encouraging.

An older man stopped, and said “You need a stall”. I thought that’s what he said. I wondered if he meant I should set up a stall, selling pictures from the railings of Vincent Square, as they do along the railings of Kensington Gardens. I said nothing, and must have looked baffled. He repeated his assertion, and then I realised he had said “stool”, “you need a stool to sit on”. I have in fact wondered about a stool. And I do have my suitcase, which I can sit on, though it is very low. I pointed out that if I sat down, the parked car would obstruct my view. “Trust a woman’s logic!” pronounced the man. I thought that was anyone’s logic. No-one, man or woman, could see through the very opaque Citroen. But I said nothing.  He waved and took off with a grin, as though he had got the better of me, which perhaps he had. I was puzzling that, for several minutes.

Then I went and had a mug of tea in the Regency Café, 90p.

(1) Nikolaus Pevsner and Simon Bradley, “The Buildings of England: London 6, Westmenster”

The new Bridge across Wood Street

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The London Wall Place newsletter of 5th January 2017 said:

img_9675“We wish to advise that the operation to install the new footbridge across Wood Street was aborted on Wednesday 21st December due to technical issues with the alignment of the Macalloy suspension bars that connect the bridge deck structure to the pylon.

We are in the process of rectifying these issues and have agreed a new road closure with the City of London for the bridge installation, week commencing 6th February with a back up closure the following week.

The install of the stainless steel pylon on the 19th December was a success and this is ready to receive the bridge.”

“Macalloy” is the name of the manufacturer of the steel bars. They are based in Sheffield.

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Macalloy 460 Tension bar – image from Macalloy.com

The bridge was successfully installed on the 6th February.

I drew the picture sitting on my suitcase near the vehicle entrance to the St Giles area. A man came to open the nearby garage, which was crammed with builder’s equipment and paint pots. Later, a succession of well dressed middle-aged people came by, as though leaving a large event. They were all of a type, and spoke distantly with each other.

Afterwards, I walked underneath the bridge and looked at the junction between the bridge and the sloping walkway, on the right of the picture. This joint is interesting because the walkway slopes down, so, to join it perfectly, the bridge cannot be horizontal at this point. It looks as though the bridge twists slightly to accommodate this geometry, but it’s difficult to see at the moment. I have drawn the bridge as slightly rainbow-shaped, as that’s what it looked like, but the architect’s pictures in the newsletters show it as flat:

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Rugby Players

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Woodcut is such a great medium. It’s satisfying to cut the wood with the sharp tools. The character of woodcut allows approximation, and fast working. There’s lots that’s not quite right about this image, but I am reluctant to mess around with the blocks. I feel that the woodcut has its own language and I let it be.

Two blocks, postcard size  about 6inches by 4inches, printed with Schminke Aqua Liniprint ink using the ancient Albion Press at East London Printmakers.

After an original photograph in the Guardian newspaper 19 December 2015, by David Davies, under the headline:
“Carter’s precision thwarts Saints’ revenge bid”.

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Racing 92        9

The caption to the photograph reads:
“Racing’s Dan Carter attempts to flick a pass out of the back of his hand before Northampton’s Mike Hayward can drag the New Zealander to the ground”

Woodcut: “Contact”

This is a woodcut, inspired by a huge stone sculpture in the Berlin Tiergarten.

The sculpture was made in limestone  in 1961 by Pierre Szekely (1923-2001), a Hungarian sculptor. It stands about 7 ft tall and has depth, about a foot thick. Wikipedia gives the name of the sculpture as “Contact”. I don’t know if it is still there. I saw in in 2012, in the snow, and it looked like an amulet, or sacred object. The shape is both anthropomorphic, and other-worldly. I like the fact that it has feet. I find the shape is satisfying. If I had an amulet, it would be shaped like that.

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Woodcut with prussian blue Schminke Aqua Linoprinting ink. Size of woodcut, 2 inches by 3 inches, approx. Done yesterday at East London Printmakers.

Buildings on Cowper St EC2

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I liked the contrast between the warm, human-scale buildings in the foreground and the futuristic towers in the background.

At the back, the building with the curved side is “Bézier”, a residential development.

“Bézier Apartments were designed by TP Bennett and developed by the Tudorvale Properties Group in 2008, and completed in 2010”, according to http://www.baseps.co.uk

Its swanky entrance is on City Road, in between an “EAT” and a “pod”. These are both eating places. EAT is all upper-case, and “pod” is all lower-case. A “bézier” is a particular sort of mathementical curve, much used in computer graphics.

The brick building is the “Central Foundation Boys School”, Sixth Form Centre. I could hear the boys on their break for some of the time when I was drawing. It is a state school, as far as I can understand from their website, run by Islington. Founded 1866. Their website has an interesting feature: “Show My Homework”. You can look up your homework assignment by year and subject. No more excuses.

I drew this standing at the side of Tabernacle Street. A shiny black car drew up, with black tinted windows. The window scrolled down, so I could see the driver, who was also black. He asked me if I could direct him to 69 Tabernacle Street. I could not. None of the blocks round here have numbers. But I know the area. “What is it?” I asked.

“69 Tablernacle Street,” he said again.

“No,” I said, “what is at 69 Tabernacle Street?”

He turned round awkwardly, to his passenger, invisible in the back seat. A pause for an inaudible conversation.

“A fancy dress shop,” he informed me. But I still couldn’t direct them.

I can now see that they were looking for: Mad World Fancy Dress, “one of the UK’s largest stockists of Venetian masks”, amongst other things. It was just north of where I was standing, entrance in Singer Street. I wonder if they found it.

St Mary Aldermary, and Albert Buildings EC4

Drawn from outside the Pret on Queen St, about 1hr 30.

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The building in the centre is “Albert Buildings”, a thin triangular building on the corner of Cannon St and Queen Victoria St. It is incredibly complicated, with many pillars and arches and different window shapes.

Now it is inhabited by a number of small businesses. I saw a dental surgeon, Shoe Care, and “Traditional Pure” lebanese food. It is now managed by “First Base” as “Cannon St Serviced Office and Business Centre” who describe it as a “listed turn of the century building with quirky Victorian features”. They don’t specify which turn of which century, but evidently it’s not the most recent one.

Pevsner says:
“Albert Buildings, the grandest surviving 1870s block, built 1871. By F.J. Ward, whose office was here. Arcaded Gothic, mixed English and Early French, with a remarkable assortment of window heads”
The Buildings of England, London 1 by Simon Bradley and Nicholas Pevsner

St Mary Aldermary is one of my favourite London churches. Inside is the friendly Host Café, and welcoming tables and chairs, and a stunning fan-vaulted ceiling. The church is on Bow Lane, near Watling Street, and the current building was built after the fire, in 1666.