And finally time to report on the sketchcrawl in London last month! “Sketching Jack’s London“… I had decided, after reading ‘From Hell’ (the graphic novel by Alan Moore, not the terrible movie upon which it is based) that I wanted to do some sketching around Whitechapel, an area of London I had not been to in more than a decade, but which I used to go frequently in my student days for curry. So I announced a sketchcrawl; while the London of Jack the Ripper is mostly gone, some things remain, so it would be fun to try to look for old Whitechapel in the guise of a sketchcrawl. Now, this sketchcrawl was a bit different, as it was midweek and started at 3:00pm, to go on until the evening. It was a hot and sticky day, perhaps the hottest yet, and my journey on the tube to Whitechapel was squashed and uncomfortable. A good group of us gathered outside Whitechapel tube station, several sketchers I had met before and many I was meeting from the first time. Among the global urban sketchers were Alissa Duke visiting from Sydney and Sue Pownall who lives in Oman, both of whom I met for the first time a few days before in Barcelona. I was also meeting London Urban Sketcher James Hobbs for the first time. My superbly talented cousin Dawn Painter was there too. Too many great sketchers to name! Here’s a photo of the starting group:
Everybody got a hand-drawn map and guide made by myself, as well as a small micro-sketchbook that I also made. I introduced the sketchcrawl; I’m not much of a Ripperologist (though I do get the online journal, an one of my sketches appeared in it once) but I love a bit of urban history, especially exploring it with a sketchbook. As I said in the guide, if you don’t want to look for the Ripper’s city, you can always just sketch the hipsters. As the sketchers all dispersed, making a slow exploration towards Christ Church Spitalfields, I stuck around the tube station to greet any latecomers and sketched the entrance to the tube station. I don’t imagine Jack the Ripper coming by tube, but the station dates back to the 1870s so it’s not impossible. I wonder how he would have felt about the extortionate ticket prices. “What a Rip-off” probably.
I mooched around Whitechapel, which was busy and not massively different from how I remember it, and eventually made it down to the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. Established in 1570, this is in fact the oldest registered manufacturing company in Britain – or the world, as the various bike tour guides passing by would say. Still, they have a magnificent history (see their website) – this is where the Liberty Bell was cast (though it broke, of course), as well as the bells of St. Paul’s Cathedral, the bell from the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, and perhaps the most famous bell of all, Big Ben, a bell so famous that most people think it’s a clock. Big Ben is also the biggest bell they ever cast here. I didn’t go in, but sat in the shade of a tree outside while locals stopped and said, oh wow man, and offered to give me cold drinks.
I must admit, I love this type of sketch probably more than any other, a bit of old brick and history. This is such a London sketch, a London palette and London lines, quickly made.
More Jack’s London sketchery to come!