sketching jack’s london, part 4: micro-sketchbook

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sketching jack's london p1 smAt the ‘Sketching Jack’s London‘ sketchcrawl last month I gave every participant a small eight-page micro-sketchbook that I had made myself, only 3″x4″ big, to use to sketch London when they need to, with quick micro-sketches. The paper was either just regular Canson or Strathmore drawing paper (I had made it with whatever I had in the cupboard), bound in construction paper, and numbered – I got No. 1, and used it for some super-quick sketches, mostly of other sketchers later at the pub. I did finish the book though, and here are presented all of the very small pages…

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“Rebel Dry Cleaners” is a great name. I imagine Mon Mothma and Nien Numb and all the rest in there, running out the back when the stormtroopers walk past, etc.

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Urban Sketcher James Hobbs, who’s a really nice guy, I got see look through his excellent sketchbook. On the right is Joan who I was friends with at school and who went off to become an artist, she also came on last year’s London sketchcrawl whch was only the second time I’d seen her since we left school, so it was great to catch up.

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Dave from New Zealand on the left, I had met him in Barcelona so it was nice to chat with him again in London, and I always have to sketch a beard. Also, Denia, an artist friend of Joan’s who is from Greece and New York but lives in London.

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Finally Ana from Bilbao in the Basque Country, and on the red page is Roshan, my best friend who came down for the post-sketchcrawl drink. I’ve not sketched him much before so this was not a bad attempt!

And that is it! I do enjoy sketchcrawling in London, there really are so many interesting artists to meet and I really enjoyed this one. I already have another one in mind for next time…”Sketching Wren’s London“, from the Monument to the Old Bell, an exploration of the City of Christopher Wren…see you in 2014!

sketching jack’s london, part 3: the end

christ church spitalfields
The last sketch I did in my Moleskine (not counting the little ones done in my micro-sketchbook, whcih I will post next) was of course Christ Church Spitalfields. I couldn’t not sketch it. Built by Nicholas Hawksmoor in the English baroque style it was completed in 1729 (so definitely a big part of Jack’s London). I did have to rush through it a little though; the end was nigh, people were gathering, time to down pens and down pints, as it were. The ending group was rather different to the startning group; some earlier sketchers had to leave before the end, while we were joined by several after-work sketchers. It’s always like that even on a daytime sketchcrawl, and that’s the beauty of it, you can just sketch for as long as you like. This being July, the London evening was still light and still pretty warm, and the company was great. Here are some of the evening sketchers, gathering in Spitalfields…
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And here is the final group! In total, early group and late group combined we had about thurty-five people, and it was excellent meeting all of you! I asked not to do the ‘sketchbooks on the ground’ thing, preferring the showing each other our books individually, in a more personal manner. That whole thing of laying the books on the pavement means that both sketcher and observer are detached from the book, and the sketchbooks are, you know, on the floor. Much nicer to flick through them, and see them as they are.
Sketching Jack's London

And afterwards, a few of us headed over to the Ten Bells pub. This sketchcrawl was for sure a highlight of my trip and I really enjoyed meeting everybody. Good job folks! I don’t know if we found Jack the Ripper’s London, but it was great to explore the area through the eyes and sketchbooks of others.

Hey the next USk London sketchcrawl will be from the Tate to the Tate (organized by Nate – Nathan Brenville) THIS FRIDAY August 16. It’s also an afternoon-evening’ one, starting at Tate Modern and ending at Tate Britain in Pimlico (they’ve got a lovely gallery). If you’re in London, the information can be found here: http://urbansketchers-london.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/tate-to-tate-sketchcrawl-august-16th.html

Anyway, more a few more “Jack’s London” sketches still to come from me…

sketching jack’s london: part 2, aldgate east – brick lane

Aldgate East
After sketching the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, I walked down to Aldgate East, and stood opposite the magnificent building above the station, and the lovely Whitechapel Art Gallery. I didn’t have time to go inside, but I have been before, like twenty years ago. Traffic was heavy on the street, this being rush hour on the outskirts of the City. I thought I might spot some of the other sketchers on the ‘crawl, but I did not; everyone had already headed towards Spitalfields. I did bump into one other sketcher while sketching this.

Aldgate East
Then, up to Brick Lane. Brick Lane is more commonly thought of these days as the hangout of hipsters, but thankfully much of the street was still devoted to the greatest thing in Britain – curry. This is the heart of “Bangla Town” – there is a large Bengali and Bangladeshi community around here – and many street signs are doubled in Bengali. When I was studying up in Mile End in the late nineties I would come up here fairly regularly for a curry, and often to this very place, the Standard Balti House (as well as the Curry Bazaar, a few doors up, and also still there). I met with another urban sketcher, Isabelle Laliberte, and we sat on the street opposite sketching away at the old brick and colourful signage, while employees from each curry house tried to entice people in, as they’ve always done. And yet, I did not have a curry! Can you believe it? It was a hot day, and I just wasn’t feeling hungry. I come thousands of miles to get to Brick Lane, and I end up not fancying a curry. Something is wrong with me! Maybe next time, when it’s cold outside…

Brick Lane

More Jack’s London sketches and photos to come…

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.

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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.

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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.

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More Jack’s London sketchery to come!