Shakespeare Tower, Barbican EC2

Here is a view of the east face of Shakespeare Tower, Barbican, from Defoe Place, near the Barbican Centre. You can see the main entrance to the tower. On the right is Cromwell Highwalk, and Ben Jonson House beyond. On the left you can just see the stairs that go down into Defoe Place from the highwalk.

Shakespeare Tower from Defoe Place, 12″ x 9″ [commission]
Preliminary sketch

I wanted this picture to give an impression of what it is like to walk around the Barbican. There are different depths, and sharp contrasts of dark and light, and large open spaces. Workers from the library looked out of their windows, saw me drawing and came to look at the picture. This was drawn in February, but still there were some flowers in the planters, even though this particular planter was in a shaded and windy place. The smell, however, was not of flowers but cigarette ends. People evidently use the area under the stairs as a smoking area, and drop their butts. So that’s the Barbican: people who talk to you, soaring towers, great perspective views, wide open spaces and a certain shabbiness around the edges.

Here is the pen-and-ink compared with the colour:

Before and after the colour went on

This was a commission. I am grateful to my client for the prompt to examine the Tower from this unusual angle. And also for sending me this photo of the framed watercolour:

Framed watercolour. Photo credit: NM

A collection of my drawings of the Barbican is here:

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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.

Museum of London from the Rotunda, 15″ x 8.5″ on Arches watercolour paper

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 in December this year (2022), and then to demolish it, along with the surrounding highwalks and pedestrian bridges over London Wall.

The dark-coloured block in the background on the right is Bastion House. This 17 storey tower block was built to the designs of architects Powell & Moya between 1972 and 1977 as part of the Barbican development. It is on top of part of the Museum of London’s display space.

The City of London now plan to demolish it.

So if the plans go ahead, this view will no longer exist. I rushed to sketch it.

This drawing is in an aspect ratio new to me: 15″ x 8.5″ or 38cm x 22cm. I wanted to get the whole of the front of the museum in the picture.

Here is comparison of the pen and ink and the the colour versions:

With and without colour

The City of London plans for the replacement buildings are on this site: https://londonwallwest.co.uk/

Residents are organising their response via the Barbican Association and this site: https://www.londonwallbest.com/

Philip Powell and Geoffry Powell

The architecture practice which designed The Barbican is “Chamberlain, Powell and Bon”. This “Powell” is Geoffrey Powell and not the Philip Powell of the Museum of London. The architects involved in designing the Barbican were: Geoffry Powell, Peter “Joe” Chamberlin, Christoph Bon, and Charles Greenberg.

The architects who designed the Museum of London and Bastion House are Philip Powell and Hidalgo Moya of the architecture practice “Powell and Moya”.

Thank you to the reader who clarified this for me.

Willoughby House, Barbican EC2

A client asked for two pictures. The first was of CityPoint. Here is the second, Willoughby House.

Willoughby House from the highwalk by Andrewes. 9″ x 12″ [original SOLD]

This is a view from the public highwalk under Andrewes House. You see the waterfall into the Barbican Lake, and Speed Garden in the background. That marvellous tree is a feature of Speed Garden. It has white bark.

Willoughby House is a terrace block in the Barbican. The multi-storey flats inside have interesting intersecting shapes, and long views across the water. It was completed in 1971.

Here is work in progress on the drawing.

On the skyline the two towers are the Heron residential tower on the left and CityPoint on the right. City Point predates Willoughby House – it was completed in 1967, although it looked different then. The curved top is a 2000 addition. In the middle is Ropemaker Place. The Heron residential tower replaced the original Chamberlain, Powell and Bon utility building on the same site. This was a brutalist concrete building, matching the Barbican, which housed a Fire Station, registry office, coroners court and mortuary. Milton Court was integral to the Barbican, linked aesthetically and by highwalks. It was destroyed in 2008.

The Heron residential tower which replaced Milton Court was finished in 2013. It is 36 stories and 122 metres high. Its lower floors house the Guildhall School of Music and drama. The upper stories are luxury flats.

CityPoint (1967, refurbished 2000) is office space, with bars and coffee shops at ground level. It is 35 stories and 127 metres high. Ropemaker Place (2009) is 23 stores of office space. It looks smaller because it is further away. It has no bars, no coffee shops, just a straight cliff down to the street.

FloorsHeightContentsDate
Willoughby7 + podiumResidential1971
Citypoint35127mOffice space,
bars at ground level
1967,
and 2000
Ropemaker23127mOffice space2009
Heron36122mGuildhall School
and residential
2013
Fashion shoot

While I was drawing, a fashion shoot arrived. It was a jangling cavalcade of clothes rails, photographic equipment, and a music system on wheels. They set up camp a little way away and starting photographing the scenery, which included me. They turned their attention to the model who placed herself carefully against the concrete wall. Then they upped and went on towards Gilbert Bridge, their music and conversation fading into the perspective lines.

Here is the ink stage. You can compare with the colour by moving the slider.

The colours here are mostly Mars Yellow, Phthalo Blue Turquoise, and Perylene Maroon. The red dots are Transparent Pyrrol Orange. There’s a bit of Green Gold in there too. I started this on location and finished it at home.

Citypoint from London Wall Place

Here is CityPoint, seen from the highwalk next to 2 London Wall Place.

Citypoint from London Wall Place. 12″ x 9″ [original SOLD]

On the left is the south side of Willoughby House, Barbican. Down in the street you see the gate which closes Moor Lane at certain times, and also various lamp posts, bollards and a pole holding three CCTV cameras. Beyond that, on the right, is a construction site on top of the Moorgate Crossrail station.

Here is a map and an annotated sketch to identify the buildings.

To draw this, I was standing above street level, on a public walkway next to a new office development, 1 and 2 London Wall Place. This walkway has walls with plants. The plants are doing really well.

As you see from those photos, the walkway was also empty and calm. The security guard came past, once in one direction, and once back. He smiled and greeted me politely. I was also watched by less friendly security: a CCTV camera, right over my head. I wonder what they made of my sketch?

CityPoint, 1 Ropemaker St, London EC2Y 9HT, was originally called “Britannic House”. The original architect was F. Milton Cashmore & Partners. It has 36 floors above ground. The website “www.emporis.com” tells me:

The building was built in 1967 as Brittanic House, a 122m (399ft) headquarters for British Petroleum. An extensive refurbishment, designed by Sheppard Robson International and completed in 2000, increased the floorplates and added height to the top floor. Britannic House was then renamed CityPoint.

Here are some photos of this drawing in progress. I did a preliminary sketch. The perspectives were fiendish. That “WeWork” building on the right has a weird sloping balcony and a strange sort of tilt in its orientation.

This drawing was a commission. It is the first of two. The next one will show Willoughby House.

Cromwell Tower from the Podium

Here is Cromwell Tower, in the Barbican, with Frobisher Crescent to the right, sketched pre-lockdown, from the Podium.

Cromwell Tower from the Barbican podium, 1st January 2021, 10″x 12″

This was a very cold day, and it started to sleet. That pitted effect you see on the left? That’s not a clever artistic technique, that’s ice crystals dropping on the painting from the sky!

I finished off the tower indoors. I used Daniel Smith Iridescent Moonstone watercolour paint. See how it catches the light!

For the podium tiling I used an experimental effect: scratching. I was in a bit of a hurry (it was really cold) and it was hard to get the angle right as I was holding the painting and standing up. It created an interesting effect, not quite what I intended, but I liked it.

This is one of a series of drawings on Jackson’s watercolour sheets: 10″ x 12″ cold-pressed, 300gsm. The bone implement I used for scratching is from the Vintage Paper Company and is a “bone folder”, intended for folding paper. It is good because it is not entirely sharp, and it’s nice to hold.

The colours are Daniel Smith watercolours: Prussian Blue, Perylene Maroon, and Mars Yellow, with a bit of Green Apatite Genuine for the plants, and Iridescent Moonstone mixed in, especially for the tower.

I’ve drawn in and around the Barbican before. Here’s a collection: (click “load more posts” to see more posts of the Barbican.)

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Barbican at dusk

It was getting dark but I’d been indoors all day. I set off into the gloom with my drawing things.

Looking towards the Barbican from Golden Lane, 5th January 2021, 4:15pm (detail)

It also started raining. Or maybe it was sleet.

I continued my peregrination through the dim streets. I like this time of day. In this weather, it’s not the “violet hour” of Mediterranean sunsets, but more like an Indigo hour, as the colours fade and go into dark smudges. I enjoyed the squares of light, each a little theatre of activity.

Here’s the picture I drew. It was sketched quickly on my walk, with the colour completed at home.

Looking towards the Barbican from Golden Lane, 5th January 2021, 4:15pm

Here are the buildings:

In Wyvern sketchbook, on Arches paper, using Hansa Yellow mid (DS), and Transparent Pyrrol Orange (DS), with Perylene Maroon (DS) and Phthalo Blue Turquoise (W&N) for the sky and the darker greys. Fired Gold Ochre (DS) is in the mix for the Peabody Building.

I have drawn in and around the Barbican before. Here is a collection:

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Eglwys Jewin, the Welsh Church, from Golden Lane Estate

On a glorious sunny Sunday, the sun lit up the roof of the Welsh Church.

Eglwys Jewin, the Welsh Church, from Golden Lane Estate.

This is the view from the Golden Lane Estate. Here is a map, and an annotated image to show which building is which. The arrow on the map shows the direction I was looking.

I was sitting next to a beech tree, Fagus Sylvatica Dawyck. A small notice at the base of the tree informed me that it has been planted on the 9th December 1989, to commemorate 800 years of the Lord Mayoralty. By co-incidence, this is the same anniversary that was commemorated by the bollard in my previous post. Here is a picture of the planting ceremony, kindly provided by Billy Mann from his Golden Lane Archive.

Fagus Sylvatica Dawyck, Beech Tree on the Golden Lane Estate, being planted.
Photo courtesy of Patsy Cox and used with permission. The photographer was standing almost exactly where I sat to draw my picture.

The tree has grown strongly in the last 30 years. It surges out of its metal hoops, and pushes the notice aside.

The Golden Lane Estate is a busy place. Many people passed by on the nearby paths. The tree and I were on a raised area, above parked cars. Some people were on foot, one was in a wheelchair, and there were several groups of cyclists. One person had a dog. This was a small dog, the same size as my sketchbook. I can say that with certainty, because, while the person was occupied on their mobile phone, the dog dashed onto my dais and plonked itself foursquare on my sketchbook. What to do?

I must have shouted out, because the person looked up briefly from their phone. I glared at the person, and shooed the dog away. The person uttered a perfunctory ‘sorry’ and continued their conversation. “No, no, it’s alright,” they said into the phone, “it’s just that Tabatha…”. They didn’t ask me if it was alright. I looked down at my drawing. It was alright.

I have drawn this church before. It was built in the 1960s. More information about this interesting building is on my previous posts:

This drawing took two hours. It is 25cm by 16cm, 10 inches by 6½ inches on Arches 300gsm watercolour paper. The main colours are Fired Gold Ochre, Mars Yellow, Phthalo Turquoise, and Perylene Maroon, with some Prussian Blue for the shadows.

This is the wonderful three dimensional map of the Golden Lane Estate, which is on the South end of Stanley Cohen House on Golden Lane. It has West at the top because that’s the direction you are facing when you are looking at the map.


Indoor scenes (1 May to 11 May)

I have continued to draw indoor scenes. Here are the latest pictures:

Earlier Indoor Scenes are in this post: Indoor scenes (11 Apr – 1 May)

They are all in a Gamma Series Stillman and Bern sketchbook.

Here are three videos showing the sketchbook to date – with voiceover!

Indoor Scenes (1)
Indoor scenes (2)
Indoor scenes (3)

Indoor scenes (11 Apr – 1 May)

Since I live in a flat, “stay at home” means “stay indoors”.

I started drawing the scenes around the flat.

I can look outdoors. We have a balcony which is just big enough for the drying rack. I have mended my rucksack. Then I washed it. After all, I won’t be needing a rucksack for a while.
My principle is to draw things as I find them. I don’t move or adjust them. These are vernacular still lives: the way things are.
Here is the ironing board.
Here are the things which accumulate at the end of the sofa.
A scene by the kitchen sink.
An apple from the vegetable delivery.
Evening scenes
The important HDMI connector. I learned to make the TV work from my laptop. This was for the online life-drawing sessions.
Miscellaneous objects get thrown together. Here, some knitting items meet the mobile phone technology.
The huge onion.
Laundry on the balcony, exercise towel, coat hanger. Before I finishd this picture, the rain came down, and I had to go out and get the washing in.
Items form social groups: the weighing machine, the kitchen roll, a food container, the enamel plate, two shopping lists, the hand cream, a beer glass with the parsely in.

These are the drawings up to today, 1st May.

Stillman+Bern, Gamma series sketchbook. Still a lot of pages left to fill.

Collage/postcard: a corner of the flat

Here is a postcard from indoors:

It shows a corner of the flat. You see the sun outside, and birds, and the city. You see parks, rivers and the great outdoors. But mostly, you see the sun on the carpet.

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