Here is the view from high up in the marvellous Skip Garden at Kings Cross. Coal Drops Yard roofs are in the background, behind the crane.
I did this picture with just three colours: cobalt blue, yellow ochre, and alizarin crimson. The yellow ochre and cobalt blue refused to make green. They made grey.
Here is the picture under construction.
On the way to Kings Cross I passed through Duncan Terrace Gardens, in Islington, where there is an extraordinary “bird hotel” in one of the gigantic trees. It was made by “London Field Works” and consists of 300 specially made bird boxes, all different sizes, fitted round the tree.
A nearby notice assured me: “The method of installation has been designed in close consultation with the Forestry Commission and the borough’s ecology dept to enable the tree to continue to grow and expand.”
I saw this redbrick building on the Old Street Roundabout.
Above it are the huge developments on City Road. From left to right they are Eagle Point, M by Montcalm, and the Atlas Building.
Adeyfield House is residential, part of the Sutton Estate, managed by Islington Council.
The Old Street roundabout was sometimes called “silicon roundabout” because of the high-tech start-ups in the surrounding area. I haven’t heard that term used for a while though. There are certainly many incubator-type office blocks. One is called “White Collar Factory” and was near to where I was standing outside Inmarsat. Inmarsat is a satellite data company.
Old Street roundabout is about to be re-configured to make it more agreeable for pedestrians and cyclists. At the moment it is noisy, polluted, dangerous to cyclists and difficult to navigate on foot.
Huge numbers of pedestrians passed by me on the pavement, talking of investments, employment opportunities, stock options, and where to go for lunch.
Here is the view from Graham St Garden, Finsbury, on the way to Kings Cross.
I sat on a bench dedicated to the memory of someone called Rick Clarke. It was a new bench, in a lovely position. May Rick Clarke rest in peace. I am grateful to those who knew him for putting the bench there.
Graham St is the extension of Central St northwards, and I was on my way north to Kings Cross to meet someone at the Skip Garden. But the Skip Garden was closed on Mondays, and my friend was waiting outside. We adjourned to the marvellous new development “Coal Drops Yard”. This is a 21st century adaptation of old coal sheds. The old sheds are turned into two levels of shops and restaurants, but in the modern way, old brickwork and chunks of Victorian cast iron are retained. Most spectacular is the roof.
The architects were Heatherwick Studio. On the right of the drawing people were experimenting with strange rotating chairs, also designed by Heatherwick Studio, and other people were watching them.
I like pictures of walls. It seems to me they have much to say. This one, for example, talks of the house that it once supported, of the concrete small bunkers that were at its base. It has been there longer than the development called “Cherry Tree Walk” which is above Waitrose, to the left. And now, behind and above, is the new YMCA hostel.
This wall is brick. It must have taken a long time to build. And it’s still there.
I drew the YMCA hostel from the other side, in December 2017:
Today was a glorious sunny day. I walked out into the sun and everywhere was worthy of a sketch.
Here is 88 Golden Lane, a strange thin building. It is an architects’ practice: Blair Architecture.
I sketched this standing on the side of the road in the sun, then retreated to sit on my case by a nearby wall to add the colour.
It must have looked as though I was sitting on the pavement. An elderly woman, pushing a shopping basket on wheels, stopped and asked me if I was alright. I said I was, and explained that I was drawing a picture. “Oh,” she said, “because I was going to say that if you needed a sit down, there a bench just around the corner here.”
I gestured to the building I was drawing. “Ah yes, you wouldn’t be able to see that if you went round the corner.” She told me she had wanted to be an artist. She always got the art prize at school. But then the schools closed. “We were blocked,” she said. I didn’t know what she meant. “I’m old,” she said, smiling at my blank expression, “the war.”
Because the school closed, she left at 14. “I wanted to go to the art school, St Martins, but that was closed because of the war.” So, she said she’d be a typist. Then the firm she worked for closed down because of the war. “So I went on War Work,” she declared. “Oh, I’ve had a good life. I’m 93. Although people say I don’t look it.” She certainly didn’t look it.
I suggested she take up art now.
“I can’t,” she said, “it’s the hands.” She held up her arms. Her hands were balls, in gloves. “Arthritis,” she said. “But I’m alright. I was ill. And I recovered. So now I think, well, I’ve got a new life. Get on with it.”
She waved her balled hands cheerfully and pushed her trolley on. She turned round. “I hope to see you again,” she said.
The Towers are St Mary’s Tower and Peabody Tower, just to the North of the Barbican.
I made 14 reasonable prints, and 2 out-takes. I glued the out-takes into my notebook. I make one page per print session, and record what I did, what paper and ink I used, what worked and what didn’t. This is in an attempt to learn and improve my printing technique.
Here are the 14 reasonable prints, numbered 1 to 14. Numbers 1-13 are on card 20cm by 30cm. This card size is intended as a greeting card. When folded it fits neatly into an A5 envelope. Number 14 is on larger paper. All are for sale, £5 each plus postage. Please contact me by email via the contacts page, or leave a comment on this page. The red writing is on the online image here, not on the print.
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These are all part of my “Towers Project” leading to an exhibition in the Barbican Library February 2019.
I work in the print studio at East London Printmakers. Prints are on Fabriano Unica Paper, using Intaglio Printmaker Bone Black ink. They are printed by hand on the Henderson press. Each print takes about half an hour to print.
You see Galway Street on the crease of the map, in the centre about a quarter of the way down. Below it, to the right is the “Bank Printing Works”.
In 1959 the London County Council sought to purchase the Printing Works site and use it as an annexe to Covent Garden. This was opposed by Michael Cliffe, MP for Finsbury and Shoreditch, on the grounds that it would create unacceptable traffic congestion, especially at the Old Street Roundabout.
Mr Cliffe is quoted in Hansard:
“…London County Council (General Powers) Bill, …. The Council, through the Bill, sought powers to acquire and redevelop St. Luke’s Printing Works as an annexe of Covent Garden Market….. I would ask the Minister what is the point of spending millions of pounds in trying to solve the problem of congestion in Central London if we are to convert the St. Luke’s Printing Works as an annexe to Covent Garden in an area where we know it must inevitably cause the kind of congestion that we are trying to avoid and which we are discussing every day. As the number of vehicles increases, further problems will have to be solved. Surely we do not want to create further difficulties after our experience gained in the past?” [Hansard: HC Deb 17 December 1959 vol 615 cc1738-47]
Mr Cliffe must have prevailed. I feel an affinity with him because earlier this week I drew Michael Cliffe House.
The Printing Works building was demolished in 1963. At around that time Finsbury Council was building council houses, including the 4 tower blocks in the area: Gambier House, Grayson House, Godfrey House and Galway House. So somehow the Council must have acquired the Print Works site. I can’t find the history online so I’m going to visit the London Metropolitan Archives and the Islington Museum.
The Towers also were allocated to different Estates: Galway is in the “St Luke’s Estate” which includes the Printing works Site, Gambier is in the City Road Estate and Grayson and Galway are in the Pleydell Estate.
From “Streets with a story, The book of Islington” (1986) by Eric A Willats FLA I learn that: “Messrs. Emberton, Franck & Tardrew were the architects of Galway House (Pleydell Estate)”.