the anchor by the thames

the anchor, southwark
And so on I went down the South Bank, until I came to the Anchor pub, decked out for the Jubilee. It was surrounded by a large horde of shaven-headed lager-drinking chain-smoking England football fans, getting a few in before hitting the tube to Wembley for a pre-Euro 2012 warm-up match against Belgium. All good natured, of course, and enjoying the day with all the tourists and Jubilee celebratories. As I sat down in a nice quiet spot to sketch the historic riverside pub, they all moved off, singing about being off to Wembley, leaving only the passing tourists. stoney st southwarkI didn’t drawn any of those, they kept moving, so I focused on the building itself. To be fair most people who milled were milling away from this spot and in the pub’s beer garden to the right. I sat for almost an hour and sketched (I did finish some detailing later, but chose not to colour it). One young lady came up and asked if she could ask a wierd question. Depends on how wierd, I replied. How wierd could it be? Not very wierd in fact. “How do you find time to draw?” She was an artist herself it seemed but never seemed to have time for it. I had struggled to find time to do all the drawing I wanted to do on the trip (you wouldn’t believe it) but still managed to get a lot done, because it is really important to me to have drawing time. I get grumpy if I don’t (quite grumpy indeed) so I make sure I find the time for it, even when I’m ridiculously busy. I told her about Urban Sketchers, and the Drawing London groups, and said that by seeing how other people busier even than me manage to somehow fit art into their lives inspires me.

With this sketch of the Anchor, I wanted to sit and do something detailed and old and full of bricks. With this other sketch on the right, Stoney Street in Southwark (near Borough Market), my time was running low so I did a quick about-ten-minute sketch to capture the scene. When time is short, think what you might be able to get in with that time, and be ok with it. I hate watsing time, even though I do it often, when I could be sketching already something else. I went on to the market and had the most amazing grilled halloumi sandwich, right by London bridge. Even thinking of the smell makes me ravenous for more – I’ll say it again, I love coming to this part of London.

sketching south of the river

southwark bridge

‘Bunting’ is a word which, sure I had heard of, but had completely forgotten. It’s not a verb, not that I know of, it’s the stuff you hang up all over the place with the coloured triangles, to decorate in times of celebration. Not a word I hear very often, I don’t think it’s used in America. Anyway, the bunting was blowing wildly in the wind on this day, while I was sketching beside Southwark Bridge on the south bank of the Thames. It was the first day of the Jubilee weekend, the Jubilee stewards were already out keeping an eye on things (one kept coming over to see what I was sketching, but in an interested way not an ‘oi what you doin’ way), and people and tourists (who are people too) strolled this way and that. A rather terrible street band played in the underpass behind me, correctly thinking that the tunnel would amplify their music. Nonetheless, the general mood was upbeat, and I rather enjoy sketching this part of London.

cardinals wharf

Here is another sketch drawn by the river – it is a pretty looking house right in between Shakespeare’s Globe theatre and Tate Modern. I was drawn to the red door, though workmen kept coming in and out, busy preparing for some big event it would seem. When I was done, I went and read the little stone plaque beside the door. It turns out that none other than Sir Christopher Wren lived here during the construction of St.Paul’s Cathedral, which is directly opposite across the river! For those who are not familiar with London’s architectural history, Wren designed and built many amazing churches in London after the Great Fire of 1666, but St.Paul’s is his masterpiece and greatest legacy. Pretty convenient location then, you may think, well they didn’t have Millennium Bridge in those days, or even Southwark Bridge, so he would probably have had to take the ferry across. I’m actually a little surprised he didn’t think to be a bridge builder as well (actually, he did design a bridge built in Cambridge).

More London sketches to come…

camping by the river

thames jubilee campers

As some of you may have been aware, this year is the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee – celebrating 60 years on the throne. It’s only the second time in the history of the country that a monarch has reached that milestone, the previous one of course being Queen Victoria. Long live our noble Queens, eh. On Sunday June 3 (59 years and 1 day since the actual coronation) a huge and historic River Pageant was planned, taking the royal party down the Thames followed by a large flotilla of boats. I was going to a street party in my old road so was unable to stand by the Thames in the rain with thousands of others (ah well, next time), so I went down to the river on the Saturday (June 2nd, 59 years since the coronation!) and sketched some of the people who would be braving the elements to see the Queen. This was down by Tate Modern, and the weather, while overcast, was very pleasant. The folks setting up camp had come from all over the UK, and the atmosphere was very happy. I think they were even looking forward to Sunday’s impending rain – nothing like a brolly, a cup of tea, a nice bit of cake and the Queen sailing by, Rule Britannia. Fair play to them. I sketched, and then moved on down the Thames to sketch some more.
sketching the jubilee campers