Towers East and Towers West – multiple prints

My idea was to produce multiple copies of “Towers East” and “Towers West”. These are aquatint plates I prepared a few months ago.  This post describes the process to produce the plates: Towers East and Towers West

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.

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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.

Click on an image to enlarge it. It may take a little while to load.

The technique is “chine-collé” which is described here: The chine collé process

Here’s number 13 so you can see the format:

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Here is number 14 on the larger paper:

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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.

Galway House

Galway House is one of the two Towers on the Pleydall Estate just North of Old Street. The other tower is Grayson.

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I drew this from behind Grayson House. There was a ferocious cold wind. I seemed to have picked the place where all the winds met. Here are maps showing the direction I was looking.

 


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Here are the blocks in the picture. It almost looks as though the Atlas Building continues the march of these majestic 1960s blocks. But it doesn’t, not really.

In the drawing you can see the scaffolding on the Atlas Building, and the external lift that was going up and down as I was drawing.

I was interested to see that the inhabitants of Galway Tower made use of their flower beds.

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Raised flower beds in Galway House, South side.

I’ve seen the same arrangement of raised flower beds next to the flats in Rahere House, where the beds were more exposed, and not used.

This whole area underwent huge changes in the twentieth century, although the street layout is unchanged.

From 1751, on Old Street, there was a huge hospital for the mentally ill: St Luke’s Hospital for Lunatics.

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St Luke’s Hospital for Lunatics on Old Street. The obelisk in St Luke’s Gardens is in the background. Image credit: Wikipedia

This hospital was closed in 1916 and the residents moved out. The building was acquired by the Bank of England and used for printing bank notes.

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Bank of England Printing Works on Old Street, 1925, image credit: Bank of England Museum.

Here is the area in 1940: map from http://www.maps-of-london.com, click to enlarge.

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The Pleydell Estate area, Finsbury, in 1940. Picture credit: http://www.maps-of-london.com

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)”.

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From a map sent to Mr I Agar in 2010 in response to a Freedom of Information request [FOI 340742.pdf]
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The Pleydell Estate, Galway House in the Background.

Michael Cliffe House

Here is Michael Cliffe House, in the Finsbury Estate, from Tysoe Street.

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The lower level block in the low centre of the picture is Joseph Trotter Close, also part of the Finsbury Estate.

While I was drawing the picture a man came and told me that he had seen the original architect’s drawing of this low level block. In the architect’s vision it was “sleek and wonderful”. But the man said the reality was very different. The concrete had worn badly and the building had not succeeded, in his opinion.

Earlier a woman came when I was at the pen-and-ink stage. She said that her 11 year old grandson had started painting, which pleased her very much. She bought paints for him. I asked if she painted too. She said no, but she was inspired by her grandson and might now have a go herself. “After all,” she said, ” he just paints anything, and I could do that too!”. I agreed.

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The drawing took two hours. After I finished I went to have a look at Joseph Trotter Close. I saw a low-level set of bungalows, all very much inhabited, with children’s play things and outdoor chairs on the lawn. It may not be sleek, but it looked as though people enjoyed living there.

The entrance to Michael Cliffe House was cramped and congested, with cars manoeuvring awkwardly and a dark, obscured, entrance. Lovely typeface though.

The real surprise was inside the entrance. There, uncelebrated in the underpass, were some amazing mosaics of dancers.

Michael Cliffe (1903-1964) was a Labour councillor for Finsbury, Mayor of Finsbury (1956-7), and an active Labour MP (1958-64).

The Finsbury Estate was built by Finsbury Borough Council in 1965. The architects were Emberton, Franck & Tardrew. Finsbury Borough council was absorbed by Islington.

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The Atlas Building – prints

This week I made prints of an etching of the Atlas Building. The etchings are based on a sketch I made.

I made 12 prints. Here they are.

They are all for sale! Please let me know if you would like to buy one. All are printed on etching paper “Fabriano Unica”. They are intended to be used as greetings cards. So the print is to the side like this:

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They fold in half to make a greeting card which fits in a C5 envelope.

Equally they can be folded in half or cut, and put in a frame size A5.

If you’d like to buy one, please contact me, and say which one you’d like. They are numbered – click the images in the gallery above. £5 each + postage. These are handmade items by me, an amateur printer. Thumb marks, imperfections, ink smudges and other defects reflect the handmade nature of the items and, as they say, “should not be regarded as defects”.

This is all preparation for my “Towers” exhibition in February 2019.

The process I use is “chine collé”. Here are some photos of work in progress:

To see more detail on the process,  look at this page, which explains all the stages.

The photos above are in “East London Printmakers” in Stepney, where I do my work.

Here is the original sketch on which the prints are based.

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Atlas Building

Turnpike House from Seward Street

Here is a view looking North from Seward Street EC1 up the wonderfully named “Mount Mills Road”.

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On the left are the backs of houses which front onto the Goswell Road. See the aerial walkways!

These houses are very old and much altered, somewhat provisionally. On the extreme left, for example, a drainpipe seems to have been routed right across a door. No doubt they said to each other “We’ll sort that out later.” Below the window on the second floor is one of those extensible clothes dryers. The vertical red pipes seem to be flues from a café, but it’s difficult to tell.

Turnpike House is part of the “Kings Square Estate” managed by Islington. It has 20 floors and was built in the 1960s as council housing.   There is a current renovation programme, which is why there is scaffolding down the left hand edge of the tower in the drawing.

About 1 hour, drawn and coloured on location.

 

Godfrey House and the Atlas Building

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On the right is Godfrey House, Bath Street, Islington, part of the St Luke’s Estate managed by the London Borough of Islington. It’s former “council housing” built in 1965. Today many of the flats are privately owned, as is evident from the number listed for sale.

On the left is the Atlas Building, on City Road, nearing completion. Atlas is taller than Godfrey House, but further away. Atlas Building is 52 floors, of which 38 are residential, Godfrey House is 21 floors.

“Atlas epitomises luxury-living in an exciting and vibrant urban landscape. Standing tall with 38 residential floors of exquisite apartments, Atlas stretches across London’s prominent skyline” (from the Atlas Building website)

In the foreground is the roof of Saint Luke’s Church of England School.

IMG_0011I drew this picture sitting on a stone in Radnor Street Gardens, off Lizard Street. After a while I noticed that the place smelt of dog excrement. It has rained recently, after a dry spell.

At 6pm a personal training session started behind me. A large man was training a slim woman. They were doing kick-boxing. Between rounds, she told him about government procedures to find out about your earned income, and thus check your tax payments. They can access your bank accounts, she warned him. He laughed and said, “Hey, that’s not making me feel good. I thought you’d have some good news for me.”

The stone I was sitting on was damp.

1hour 45 minutes, drawn and coloured on location.

Data about Godfrey House from the “Tower Block UK” website of the University of Edinburgh: Contractor Kirk and Kirk, Committee approved 1965, 120 dwellings on the St Luke Printing Works Site.

 “Tower Block UK is a project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, bringing together public engagement and an openly-licensed image archive in an attempt to emphasise the social and architectural importance of tower blocks, and to frame multi-storey social housing as a coherent and accessible nationwide heritage.”

Here is a link to a Freedom of Information request which gives a very detailed map of the estates in Islington (2010):  FOI request from Mr I Agar

Grayson House

Grayson House is part of the Pleydell Estate.

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1 hr 40 mins from the small park called Radnor Street Gardens.

Grayson House on the left, and Gambier House in the background.

Next to me, for the entire duration of the drawing two men played ping-pong. The children came out of school at 4pm, and wanted to use the ping-pong table. But the men said no.

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I drew Gambier House from the same park, in March, on  a peregrination around City Road

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Later note:
I discover from the amazing “Streets with a story, The book of Islington” by Eric A Willats FLA, that “Grayson House (1961)” was ” named after Frederick George Grayson, a superintendent of Radnor Street Sunday Schools and Mission, formerly in Radnor Street.”

Mr Willats’ book lists streets and some buildings in Islington, including as he says “what has come to my notice up to the early summer of 1986.” It is in the Islington Museum.