Bunhill Fields Memorial Buildings

This small building stands peacefully in a garden, surrounded by later developments. It is the local Quaker Meeting House.

According to the very interesting leaflet produced by the Bunhill Quakers, the current building is the sole remnant of a once large establishment, the Memorial Buildings, completed 1881. These Memorial Buildings housed “a coffee Tavern, mission rooms for the adult schools and breakfast meetings, Sunday schools, a medical mission, and a large meeting house”. The construction was funded by money obtained when the Metropolitan Board of Works wanted to widen Roscoe Street, and purchased land owned by the Quakers to do so. Roscoe Street was then called Coleman Street. “The success of the Adult School brought in funds for the erection of an Extension building in 1888”, they write. 300-400 people attended the meeting in those days.

Bombing raids in 1940, ’41, and ’44 destroyed “all but the caretakers’ house”, and the council “re-zoned” the area to “allow only residential building”. Friends Meetings continued, however, and still continue, in the former Caretakers’ House, which is the building I have drawn. As well as the Quaker Meetings, it is the centre for a travelling library. A small notice by the door says that this is the drop-in centre for an organisation called “At Ease” which provides a “Free, independent and confidential advisory service for people in the Armed Forces.”

The leaflet from the Bunhill Quakers is on their website and also here:

I made the drawing from the Quaker Garden on the site of the Bunhill Fields Burial Ground.

The drawing took about 1 hour 30mins. The sky is a new colour: Phthalocyanine Turquoise, a Winsor and Newton colour, pigment PB16. Other colours are Perinone Orange, and Mars Yellow, both Daniel Smith Watercolours. Here is work in progress:

The air temperature was 5 degrees C. That blue sky was not a “warm blue” whatever the photos seem to say.

Islington Square

On a shopping expedition in Islington, I made a diversion through the new development: “Islington Square”, opposite St Mary’s Church. It’s not a square, more of a passage, a covered road, very high. Lots of huge empty windows wait like empty stages for the retail theatre to begin. At the end is an open-air space, also not a square, more of a rectangle. Here is a grand kitchen equipment shop, where you can buy a saucepan in copper, or other high-grade metal such as stainless steel. Then looking back towards the passage, I made a sketch:IMG_0493

This was a very quick sketch, about 20 minutes (that’s quick, for me). Drawn and coloured sitting on one of the benches near the kitchen shop.

As I was finishing a man emerged from the passage and announced “We have our first artist!”. He meant me. Other men followed. I asked him if he lived here, as I was interested in the flats I had been drawing. He said no, he was the Manager of the Development. I said I appreciated the fine wooden bench, which was placed in a good position for drawing. He looked at my drawing and said I should come back in different seasons – and put on a show! Good idea.

He was a busy person and walked off. One of the other men came up and very kindly offered to fetch me a cup of tea or coffee. I was just packing up though, and so declined. It was nice of him.

“Islington Square, just an eight-minute walk to Angel Underground Station, offers 263 new homes and 108 serviced apartments at a maximum height of just eight floors, fusing Edwardian grandeur and contemporary style. The build will be complemented by 170,000 square feet of retail, dining and leisure amenities including a luxury Odeon cinema and a premium Third Space gym.” (Olivier Heath, writing in “House Beautiful” April 11th 2019)

The new development is around and about the former postal sorting office, which has been empty for some time. The dates I could see in the brickwork said “1905”. The new buildings are curved, as you see in my sketch, and one group is covered in purple tiles. I thought it looked good. At least they haven’t just imitated the Victorian architecture, but courageously added something decidedly 21st Century.

 

Coal Drops Yard N1C from the Skip Garden

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.

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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.

IMG_2060On 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.”

Old Street Roundabout: Adeyfield House

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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

On the way to Coal Drops Yard

Here is the view from Graham St Garden, Finsbury, on the way to Kings Cross.

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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.

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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.

Here is work in progress on the drawings.

 

A wall in Waitrose Car Park

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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:

YMCA site, Errol St EC1

88 Golden Lane

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.

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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.