sketching jack’s london…part 1

Whitechapel map with names
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 mySketching Jacks London: sketchcrawl, July 17 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:
Sketching Jack's London July 17, 2013

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.

whitechapel station

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.

whitechapel bell foundry

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!

Sketching Jack’s London: July 17

Sketching Jacks London: sketchcrawl, July 17
London! Here is a sketching event just for you, a midweek, afternoon-evening sketchcrawl around the old neighbourhood of that notorious elusive villain, Jack the Ripper.

Join us as we sketch around Whitechapel, in search of its past. We will begin at 3:00pm meeting outside Whitechapel tube station, and then sketch individually or in groups. This event is FREE and open to anybody with an interest in sketching, all you need to bring is something to draw with and something to draw on (although I have made some very special micro-sketchbooks for all participants… see photo below).

As with last year’s sketchcrawl around Temple and Fleet Street, I will provide hand-drawn maps with some interesting information (and it will include the locations of the Ripper’s ‘canonical five’ murders). We will finish up outside Christ Church Spitalfields at 8:00pm. There we will check out each other’s sketchbooks, and then maybe pop across the road to the Ten Bells for a pint in the Ripper’s very own local.

Whitechapel map with names

Of course, the London of Jack the Ripper is gone. Thankfully, one might add. The slums were cleared, the squalor washed up. The twentieth century happened. The Blitz happened. History happened. Hipsters happened. Yet traces of Jack’s London still remain, some invisible, some ignored, and some pretty hard to miss. In this sketchcrawl, let’s look for the old East End, the smog-chipped bricks, the weather-worn cobbles, the winding streets, the smell of old pubs, the sudden towering steeples, the London that the nineteenth century left behind. Whitechapel, Aldgate, Brick Lane, Spitalfields, the edge of the City. The Elephant Man. The Krays. Jack Sheppard. Ashley Cole. Er, Jack London stayed here for a while. Even Big Ben and the Liberty Bell were born here. Jack the Ripper is gone, a legend for the tourists, but old London is still there, hiding in the modern world, AND WE ARE GOING TO SKETCH IT!!
(or of course, you can just sketch the hipsters…)

sketching jack's london micro sketchbooks

specially made ‘sketching jack’s london’ micro-sketchbooks!!!

Hope to see you there!

Facebook event page

For more info, please leave a comment or contact me privately using the following contact form:

media mentions

Surreal moment this morning: I was mentioned on Fox News! They showed one of my sketches of Sacramento, drawn over two years ago with pen and watercolour pencils (see right), on the local morning news during a piece about Sac’s Tower Bridge. I thought that was pretty cool, and very nicetower bridge, sacramento of the presenter Paul Robins to give me a mention. (I don’t mind that it’s Fox; next: the Daily Mail!). I remember drawing this (seems like forever ago), I like this bridge but wasn’t able to do it justice before but I did like this sketch. This has reminded me, I think it’s about time I went and sketched it again. It’s nice by the River.

Speaking of mentions, I forgot to say that I had a drawing – one of my ‘You See, Davis’ pieces – published in the local Davis radio station KDVS’s magazine, KDViations, this quarter, for their fund-raising issue. It didn’t print too well though, I think the resolution I gave them was too low.

I also forgot to report (since we’re talking media mentions) that I was featured in last month’s excellent Ripperologist magazine, their special 100th edition. It’s the premier journal – online only – for researchers of Jack the Ripper, a subject I know only the general details of (he killed girls, right?). But I did a drawing of the infamous Ten Bells pub a while back, which was also published in the London Walks book (for the Jack the Ripper section), and because the East End’s an old haunt of mine, I had the wonderful honour of appearing in their special edition alongside features of other talented Ripper-themed artists. Cool, huh!!

ripping yarns

For those of you watching in black and white, Jack the Ripper is the one in grey.

This is the Ten Bells pub in Spitalfields, where several of the Ripper’s victims drank (and the rest) before meeting unfortunate endings involving bits of them being mailed to the local bobbies. They never caught the Ripper, but I bet he was a bit of tearaway.
ten bells a-ripping

I love the French name for him, Jacques L’Eventreur. I love all the foreign names for him: Jack lo squartatore (Italian), Viiltäjä-Jack (Finnish), Jack Trbosjek (Croatian), Kuba Rozpruwacz (Polish), Seoc an Reubainnear (Gaelic), Джак Изкормвача (Bulgarian), ג’ק המרטש (Hebrew), Jack Bantha-poodoo (Huttese). Okay, maybe not the last one.

Originally he was known as Jack the Perforator, but the papers didn’t like it. These days, he would probably be called a Tearorist. Oh come on, it’s late, gimme a break here.