Great Suffolk Street, Railway arch

Huge brick arches carry the railway lines into Waterloo Station. Here is a view looking North up Great Suffolk Street.

Great Suffolk Street railway arch, monoprint #3 of 6. Printed image size 12″ x 9″. On Fabriano Unica paper, 20″ x14″

This is a packaging monoprint. It is an intaglio print from a “plate” made from a milk carton. Here is the plate:

I’ve described the process in this blog post: Print plates made of packaging. The basic method is to use the shiny metallic surface inside the carton. I cut out the shapes I want and peel back the shiny surface to reveal a rougher surface which takes the ink. The yellow colour you see on the plate is shellac, a varnish that I paint on to make the plate last a little longer.

The plates are quite fragile, and can only make a limited number of prints. Here is number 6:

Great Suffolk Street railway arch, monoprint #6 of 6. Printed image size 12″ x 9″. On Agawami Washi Kitakata Japanese paper, 20″ x1 4″

I made all the prints on the Henderson press at East London Printmakers, Stepney. I used Chabonnel F66 traditional oil-based etching ink.

Colechurch House – monoprint

Colechurch House on the South Bank is a brutalist office block. It makes a good subject for a packaging print. Since it is a a 1960s block, I added a 1960s type shape in chine collé.

Colechurch House – monoprint and chine collé, paper size,15″ x 12″ Shoji Baku Japanese Paper

The chine collé paper is Khadi Lokta Coloured saffron washi paper from Atlantis Art (ref: KPNI SA). The background paper for this print is Shoji Baku paper from Shepherds Bookbinders (ref: LRG 1859). The ink is Charbonnel traditional etching ink. I printed this on the Henderson Press at East London Printmakers. Here is a video of the “print reveal” (17seconds, silent):

Thanks to Evonne at East London Printmakers for filming me!

Here are the other 4 prints from this plate. They are all on a different, but similar paper: Tosa Washi from Shepherds, (ref: J632180)

The print was based on a sketch of Colechurch House last year. See this post:

Colechurch House, London Bridge SE1

Aficionados of 20th Century brutalist architecture need to hasten to appreciate Colechurch House. It is due for demolition and redevelopment. This month’s post in the marvellous “London Inheritance” site informed me about the planning application, so I rushed over there to draw a picture before the building became swathed in plastic. I drew this picture looking over the railings from London Bridge. This position commanded an excellent view of Colechurch House, but … Continue reading “Colechurch House, London Bridge SE1”

Here are more examples of the technique using a plate made from packaging material. I have written about the process here.

London Television Centre – monoprint

Here’s another “packaging” monoprint. This was made using an empty box of tissues.

London Television Centre, monoprint from packaging, image size 14″ x 10″ [Available]

This is a tower block on the South bank of the river Thames, seen from the North bank. That’s the river in the foreground.

Here is the “plate”, before printing:

I have sketched this tower block here:

It’s due for demolition. So using discarded packaging to make an image of this building seemed to be appropriate. The building, though made of concrete and steel, is yet ephemeral, like my fragile plate.

I made the print on “Gampi smooth” paper from Shepherds of London. This handmade paper is thin, translucent, and has small inclusions and imperfections as you see on this detail photo:

The sky in this part of London is never empty. There are always seagulls, falling leaves, windswept paper, aeroplanes, police helicopters. And rain.

The ink for this print is Charbonnel F66 Black traditional etching ink from Intaglio Printmakers. I made the print at East London Printmakers on the Henderson etching press.

London Weekend Television, London South Bank. Paper is a bit over A3 size.

Here are some other prints made using the same technique:

Packaging monoprints

Anchor Brewhouse, Horselydown Old Stairs, SE1

I am trying an experimental monoprint technique. The idea is to use packaging material to make intaglio “plates” which are then printed using an etching press. This is the first one. I printed it yesterday on the Henderson Press at East London Printmakers.

Anchor Brewhouse and Horselydown Old Steps, Monoprint. Image size 10″ x 6″

This is a real building, a former brewery, just to the South and East of Tower Bridge. That’s the river Thames you see on the left of the picture.

The “plates” are fragile, so I could only make 6 prints before the plate started deteriorating and the contrast started to go. Here is a picture of the plate, front and back. It is made out of a box of soup. I made the picture on the shiny, metallic-looking side, which is the former inside of the soup box.

The parts which print dark are made by cutting out the metallic coating of the soup box, leaving the rough cardboard underneath. I painted the plate with button varnish (shellac in alcohol) to make it a bit stiffer and more durable. Here’s what the plate looked like before printing:

Plate before printing, with annotations

Here is one of the prints peeling off the plate:

I tried making a video, but it was too difficult to hold the plate, the paper and the phone all at once. And there’s ink everywhere which I was trying to avoid getting on my phone. Next time I’ll see if I can get a fellow printmaker to hold the phone.

Ink: “JS”carbon black

The ink is traditional black etching ink from Intaglio Printmaker in Southwark. The paper is Zhao Zhe Chinese paper ref 11369 from Great Art on the Kingsland Road. The red seal on the finished print is made with a Japanese stone seal with red ink gifted to me by my friend and mentor Katsuhisa Toda 戸田勝久.

This printmaking technique is inspired by the work of Karen Wicks, @iacartroom on instagram.

The wonderful London Inheritance site has more about Horselydown steps here: https://alondoninheritance.com/the-thames/horselydown-old-stairs/

Rose and Crown, SE1

Here is the Rose and Crown, just south of Blackfriars Bridge.

Rose and Crown, Blackfriars SE1, 20 November 2021, 10″ x 7″ in Sketchbook 11

This pub stands amongst modern blocks: linking past, present and future in a swirling area of change. Behind the pub, unexpectedly, is a beer garden, giving onto a wooded area around the nearby church, Christ Church.

Above the arched window of the pub, two dates are carved in the stone work: 1787 and 1887

Above the arched window: 1787 and 1887 (or 1881?)

The pub’s website says the building “is thought to date back to the late 1800s”. The marvellous “pubwiki” entry tells me that the pub “was established in 1787, re-built in its present form in 1887″. They trace the landlords’ names and dates through census and insurance records, and note a John” Clark, victualler at this location, in 1789.

1789/John Clark/victualler/../../Sun Fire Office records held at the London Metropolitan Archives” (data from Ewan of “pubwiki”)

Sketch map showing the Rose and Crown, SE1, and the viewpoint of my drawing, 20th November 2021

The roads round here have changed names. Colombo Street was “Collingwood Street” until 1937 (London Metropolitan Archives, notes on photos). Before that it was “Green Walk” in the 1789 insurance records quoted above. Paris Garden was previously “Brunswick Street”. The area in front of the pub, now the Colombo Centre and a Novotel, is a bombsite in a 1951 photo in the London Picture Archive.

The area continues to undergo change. North of the pub is a huge empty lot. Buildings were demolished in or around 2019, and construction has not yet started.

The planning application (2019) is for 4 levels of basement and 6 buildings from 5 to 53 floors.

Planning application 19/AP/0414 from “planning.southwark.gov.uk”

If you walk into my drawing and turn into the dark passage to the right of the pub, you find this notice, written in stone. Recently another notice has been added, asking patrons to leave quietly.

By my calculation MDCCCXIX is 1000(M) + 500(D) + 300(CCC) + 10(X) + 9 (IX) = 1819

The purpose of the watch house was to guard the adjacent burial ground from body snatchers, according to the note on the London Metropolitan Archive Picture Gallery. Here is the watchhouse in 1932. The pub would be immediatly to the left of this photo:

View of Christ Church Watchhouse, record number: 113829, Catalogue number: SC_PHL_01_366_A8882 Photo date: 1932 © London Metropolitan Archives (City of London) Used under licence.

London Picture Archive notes:

“The Parish Watchhouse was built in 1809 and stood in the Church Yard until demolished in 1932. The Watchhouse was used to guard new burials against body snatchers. The Rectory, a new building similar in style, stands on the same site. Colombo Street was previously known as Collingwood Street.”

Here is work in progress on the drawing. You see the current rectory, which replaced the watch-house, on the right.

Location:

The pub cat, sleeping.

Colechurch House, London Bridge SE1

Aficionados of 20th Century brutalist architecture need to hasten to appreciate Colechurch House. It is due for demolition and redevelopment. This month’s post in the marvellous “London Inheritance” site informed me about the planning application, so I rushed over there to draw a picture before the building became swathed in plastic.

Colechurch House SE1, 18th May 2021, 12:30pm. 7″ x 10″ in Sketchbook 10

I drew this picture looking over the railings from London Bridge. This position commanded an excellent view of Colechurch House, but it meant I had my back to the passers-by on the pavement, which made me nervous. I strapped my rucksack to the railing and worked quickly. My drawing makes the building look a little precarious, perhaps that reflects my own nervousness standing in the wind on London Bridge, or perhaps it reflects the nervousness of the building as it awaits imminent demolition.

Here is work in progress. I completed the pen-and-ink on location and the colour at my desk.

Colechurch House was completed in the late 1960s* to the designs of E G Chandler. Pre-pandemic, the area under the building at podium level contained a tidal flow of commuters walking between London Bridge Station and the City of London. The City of London Corporation entity known as “Bridge House Estates” owns the freehold. The site is in the London Borough of Southwark (called “LBS” in the press release below). The planning application is GLA reference 2020/6867/S1 and has been approved. Here’s the plan, according to the summary in the planning application:

“Redevelopment of the site to include demolition of Colechurch House, pedestrian footbridge and walkway and erection of an elevated 22-storey building (+ 4-storey basement) above a public park and providing office floorspace, retail floorspace, restaurant/café floorspace, leisure floorspace (all Use Class E), theatre and a bar (Sui Generis), delivered alongside public realm improvements, roof gardens, cycle parking, servicing, refuse, plant areas and other associated works incidental to the development.”

Here’s a press release from the City of London last year, announcing the development.

*Completion date “late 1960s” according to https://colechurchhouse.com/site, the website of the new development. It also says “It is named after Peter of Colechurch who designed the first stone bridge across the Thames here.”

South Bank view

This is the South Bank of the Thames, near Blackfriars Bridge, seen from the North Bank.

South Bank (1), from photo reference. 2nd Jan 2021. 12″ x10″ sheet.

This was part of my experimentation with Jackson’s watercolour paper. Jacksons Art Supplies sent me a pack of 50 sheets, and asked for an honest review. 50 sheets is a lot of paper, and so I’ve felt able to experiment. I’ve enjoyed using it. Here is another version of the same scene.

South Bank (2), from photo reference. 2nd Jan 2021, 12″ x10″ sheet

Jackson’s also sent a few brushes, one of which was an enormous “Raven” mop brush. This has a soft furry head. It is great fun to use as it holds so much paint.

Here is the Raven brush in action. Although it is huge, it comes to a small point, so I can make little dots, or add a small amount of colour to a wash, as here.

The paper is capable of taking “layers” of paint, as you see here. The grey and the orange overlap without becoming a muddy mess. I was painting indoors, so I could allow each layer to dry, which is important in order to avoid a mush.

Here is work in progress. I taped the paper to a piece of corrugated cardboard from a delivery box. The white strips down the edges are to give me somewhere to try out the colours.

Last year, before the first lockdown, I drew this view in a sketchbook on location:

South Bank, London

Here’s the South Bank seen from the Victoria Embankment on the North Bank. Here you see the modern blocks, with the older wharves in front. The low red building towards the right is Oxo Tower Wharf, formerly a factory making OXO cubes, now a place with workshops for jewellers, a restaurant and various cafés. The … Continue reading “South Bank, London”

National Theatre in lockdown

The National Theatre is on the South Bank of the Thames. Here is a view, looking East from Waterloo Bridge.

National Theatre, 9th September 2020, 3:20pm

As you see, there are gates across the walkway. The Theatre is closed, and the walkways are closed.

My drawing shows the empty theatre, and the empty walkways. The theatre restaurant, which is on the left of the drawing, is also closed and empty.

The walkways, in true 1960s style, are at “podium” level, above the traffic. Below me as a drew, people walked and cycled, and traffic passed on the nearby road, Upper Ground. Grass and buddleia grow in the cracks. Life continues, but at a different level.

This drawing is 25cm by 16cm, 10 inches by 6½ inches on Arches 300gsm watercolour paper. It took 1½ hours. I did a preliminary sketch first, shown in the work-in-progress photos below. The colours are Buff Titanium, Neutral Tint, and Lunar Earth, all Daniel Smith watercolours, over De Atramentis document black ink.

I’ve drawn the South Bank before:

South Bank, London

Here’s the South Bank seen from the Victoria Embankment on the North Bank.

South Bank near Blackfriars Bridge – Tate Modern, The Shard, One Blackfriars, South Bank Tower

Here you see the modern blocks, with the older wharves in front. The low red building towards the right is Oxo Tower Wharf, formerly a factory making OXO cubes, now a place with workshops for jewellers, a restaurant and various cafés. The building was designed for the Liebig Extract of Meat Company by Albert Moore in the 1920s. It was derelict in the 1970s. In the 1980s the Coin Street Community Builders saved it from demolition and with great determination gradually renovated it in stages over the next twenty years.

The tall tower on the right is the South Bank Tower, a residential block. Its height was increased recently, adding about a third on top. You can see the “seam” on the building, and I have shown it in the drawing on the right of the tower. One Blackfrairs is the asymmetrical tower in the middle, mostly residential, and completed last year.

Here is work in progress.

Here’s a map.

Street map. The arrow shows the sightline of the drawing.

There is a building to the South West of Blackfriars Bridge, labelled “HM Customs” on the map. This is next to Oxo Tower Wharf, on the river front in the centre of the drawing.

HM Customs and Excise were there from 1987, when the building was called “New Kings Beam House”. In an early part of my career they were a client of mine. This was the 1980s. I remember stepping over mud in my nice business shoes, and picking my way between derelict buildings with my briefcase, feeling rather conspicuous. After this hazardous journey, I was always glad to see the uniformed commissionaire at the door of New Kings Beam House. He was, of course, in full Customs uniform, with a white shirt and gold buttons. The entrance was from Upper Ground then. The meetings were in bright offices overlooking the river, fully carpeted and quite unlike the offices of any other of my government clients. HM Customs and Excise merged with the Inland Revenue in 2005 to form “Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs” (HMRC). They must have moved out of the building around then. It was refurbished in 2011, and is now called “Sea Containers House”, with a hotel and the offices of media and marketing companies.

This drawing took about an hour drawn leaning on a stone pillar on the Victoria Embankment. Phthalo Blue (W&N), Burnt Umber (DS) and a bit of Mars Yellow (DS) and Perinone Orange (DS).

I put more information about Sea Containers House in this post: From Oxo Tower Wharf. In the 1980s there were the gold spheres on top of the pillars facing the river. These have since vanished from the riverside façade.

Sea Containers House about 2010, showing the golden spheres. Note also the height of the Tower behind, which is now much higher, and is called South Bank Tower.

When I was sketching, I thought I could see one of them, hidden at the back. You can see it in the drawing, between the Oxo tower and South Bank Tower. Intrigued, I went looking for it later, and found a view of it from Upper Ground. It’s very odd that they kept that one, and discarded all the others.

Here is what Sea Containers House looks like now, from the North side of Blackfriars Bridge, March 2020. No golden spheres on this side. And see the increased height of the South Bank Tower behind.

Royal Festival Hall and the London Eye

I went up to the marvellous roof garden, on top of the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the South Bank.

Here is a picture of the Royal Festival Hall, with the London Eye behind it. The tower of Westminster looms behind the wheel.

fullsizeoutput_337a

This roof garden seems to be a place for serious discussions. Some people at the next bench were discussing whether to stay employed or not. One of the options was to “go travelling”. Another, as far as I could work out, was to “get married”. It was hard to keep track of their wide ranging conversation, because I had to concentrate on the beautiful curve on the front of the Royal Festival Hall. It was a luxury to be there, and to appreciate the lines of the architecture. The lines were somewhat compromised at this roof level by the many creeping plants, floodlights, and surveillance cameras which you see encrusting the ventilation shaft in the foreground. Also note the prominent mobile phone mast on top of the Royal Festival Hall. I would not have granted planning permission for that.

The roof garden is a wonderful invention, and well done. By the time I’d finished the drawing, many people had made their way up, and were discussing work, and relationships, all very earnest. I discovered that I was sitting in the smoking area, which is adjacent to the vaping area. Marijuana smells wafted up from somewhere, perhaps from the skateboarding area in the Undercroft below. I could hear the crashes and the calls. But there was also a smell of grass, actual green grass, as in the picture.

Here is work in progress and a photo of my sketchbook on the concrete:

The drawing took 1hr30mins.
Screen Shot 2019-04-10 at 12.09.00.png
The London County Council (LCC), as it then was, initiated the building of the Royal Festival Hall as their contribution to the Festival of Britain. The foundation stone was laid by the Prime Minister Clement Atlee in 1949 and a mere 18 months later, in 1951, the concert hall opened with a gala concert, which shows what can be done if you are determined and have a deadline.

The project was initially led by the LCC chief architect Robert Matthew, then later by Leslie Martin, with Edwin Williams and Peter Moro. It was built on the site of the Lion Brewery, which was built in 1837.

[this information from the Royal Festival Hall website, and the Twentieth Century Society]

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