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.

A peregrination around City Road

IMG_3110I set off up Whitecross Street. The market was setting up, and I went round the back of the stalls. Here’s a quick sketch from Whitecross Street, looking up Banner Street, 40 minutes.

At the end of Banner Street you the White Collar Factory, a multi-occupancy office place, and the weird building on the Old Street roundabout. I’ve drawn these buildings before from another angle: Buildings on Cowper St EC2

Amongst the buildings of the St Luke’s estate I rested in Radnor Street Gardens.

This gave me a good view of Gambier House.

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Gambier House from Radnor Street Gardens, 1hr

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After that I needed a coffee and made my way to Westland Coffee and Wine, in an alley off the City Road.

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Westland Coffee and Wine is next to Shoreditch, and people hold interesting business conversations there. I had coffee and warmed up. Refreshed, I set off along Westland Place, and passing Jamie Oliver’s “Fifteen”, and the glass and steel offices of communications companies and a CCTV company.

Then there’s a discontinuity: a sudden change from glass and steel, to a brick-built residential estate, The Provost Estate, including Rhodes House. The Atlas Building is visible along Provost Street, looking South (Number 3 on the map).

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Atlas Building from Nile Street, 1 hour 50 minutes.
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Italiano Pizza, Nile Street

I drew this in 1 hour 50 minutes, sitting comfortably in a wooden chair kindly provided by the proprietor of “Italiano Pizza” on Nile Street. His shop emitted marvellous smells of baking dough. Customers turned up at regular intervals, placed their orders and then drifted off to walk their dogs or smoke their cigarettes while their pizza was prepared.

 

“The Atlas Building” construction site includes both the 52-storey building and the dark cube.

“Atlas epitomises luxury-living in an exciting and vibrant urban landscape. Atlas stands tall with 38 residential floors of exquisite apartments stretching across London’s prominent skyline.”

I can’t find out what the dark cube is. It doesn’t look residential.

The brick buildings are on Vestry Street. They look like former warehouses. On the left is “FindersUK.com international probate geneologists”. The buildings next to it in the centre of the drawing are unoccupied.

Work in progress: Seawhite travel journal from Artesaver.

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I drew Gambier House a little while ago:  Gambier House from St Luke’s.

Here’s another picture of the Atlas building, which I did on the 17th February, from Canalside Square, Packington Street N1.

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The Atlas Building, Montcalm, Eagle Point, from Canalside Square 17th Feb 2018, 40 minutes.

When I came home, I saw a rainbow from my window.

Skyline east with rainbow

From Godfrey House

Here are etchings based on a drawing I did from outside Godfrey House, in the St Luke’s estate, Bath St, EC1V.

This one is done in the new brown ink I bought: “Terre d’Ombre Brulée”

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This is aquatint.

Here’s what the hard ground etch was like, before the aquatint.

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Here’s the work in progress:

 

M by Montcalm from Godfrey House EC1

This is a drawing from outside Godfrey House in Islington. Godfrey House was built in the 1960s, as part of the St Luke’s Estate. Drawn and coloured on location, about 45 minutes. It was very cold and windy.

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The pointed building is “M by Montcalm” on the City Road. It is a hotel finished in 2015. On the left is Eagle Point, a recent residential development by Terry Farrell & Partners.

M by Montcalm is exceptionally hard to draw. It has no right angles. Also its outside is a strange irregular diagonal tessellation. I have tried hard to capture the  ” triple glazed skin enlivened with differing patterns of transparency, opacity and solidity to convey diagonal slopes breaking across an underlying vertical structure.” [Squire and Partners website]

The traditional building in front of it, on Peerless Street, provides a reassuring brick-built contrast.

Here is what the Squire and Partners website says about M by Montcalm.

“Squire and Partners’ concept for the M by Montcalm hotel in Shoreditch was delivered in collaboration with Executive Architects 5 Plus, and completed in summer 2015. The site – opposite Moorfields Eye Hospital on City Road – provided inspiration for a striking facade which expresses the idea of the optical and the visual.
Responding to the Moorfields Eye Hospital opposite, and taking inspiration from the 1980′s artworks of Bridget Riley, the facade is expressed as a triple glazed skin enlivened with differing patterns of transparency, opacity and solidity to convey diagonal slopes breaking across an underlying vertical structure.
Manipulation and modulation of light, both internally and externally, give the facade richness and an ever-changing face on this prominent site, as well as assisting solar performance to create a sustainable development. The conjunction of the vertical and the diagonal create a visual effect of depth and movement, and express the activities taking place within the building. At the upper levels the facade openings become larger to express the more social uses and exploit the panoramic views.
At ground and lower ground floors, the building skin ‘lifts’ on the diagonal to reveal the hotel lobby, public bar and restaurant, all clearly visible.”
[Squire and Partners website]

 

Monoprints: Braithwaite House

Here are some prints from last week’s session at East London Printmakers.

This was an experiment using drypoint on transparent acrylic plates.

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Braithwaite House and Chequer Court, monoprint
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Braithwaite House and Chequer Court, monoprint

These pictures are done with two plates.

(1) Dry point to make the black lines.

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The acrylic plate used for printing, marks scratched with a metal point – “drypoint”

(2) Painting directly onto a blank acrylic plate and then printing that on top.

The resulting pictures are “mono prints” because they are one-off. I can reproduce the black lines, but the coloured parts are unique on each plate.

I had another go on 8th March.

Here are further attempts:

 

Gambier House from St Luke’s

A very cold and blustery day.
Drawn from Ironmonger Passage, beside St Luke’s Gardens. My watercolour bag blew onto the ground, and the street sweeper, speaking Polish into his mobile phone, swept it up amongst the leaves. I raced after him to retrieve it, and he was very polite and apologetic.

“Gambier House was constructed in 1968 and is a 20 storey tower block, comprising 115 flats. The block is located on a triangular site between Mora Street and Lever Street. A small park is immediately adjacent to the south whilst surrounding properties, of between two and seven storeys, are in both commercial and residential uses. “

Gambier House was subject of a Planning Application in 2014, to install cladding. The above is an extract from this Planning Application. Here is a link to the document:

1-115 Gambier House Mora Street London EC1V 8EJ.