Friday, 10 February 2017

Woodford Bridge

This is the third time I've had a go at this view, today it was at 8.15am, damp and misty with it. This part of town might not be one of the places John Constable frequented, but I'm sure he would have loved it, if he had known.


Tuesday, 7 February 2017

A week or so ago one of my other Saturday interests, Brentford Football Club took me to Fulham.  We had been drawn away against Chelsea in the FA Cup - we lost 4-0 - but  it was an opportunity to go to major stadium and one, as is the current vogue for bigger and better soon to be replaced.  I guess it is progress but seems a little below 'sustainability standards'.  On the other hand it will bring another iconic building to the capital. Part of the ethos of urban sketching being to record change I felt bound to take time for a sketch.....a lot of blue everywhere, even the sky for most of the time.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Let’s draw the Horniman Museum and Gardens - Saturday 25 March 2017

Horniman Museum
Nick Richards

Join us at the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill, South London, which has a wealth of subjects for sketching: the impressive and varied buildings, the museum’s eclectic collections, and all set in 16 acres of gardens.

Key meeting points for the day:
11am: meet inside the main building entrance, near the Navajo sandpainting.
1 pm: meet to share sketchbooks and experiences outside in front of the Conservatory (or if weather is bad, inside the main museum building at the lower ground floor level Gallery Square).
3.30 pm: finish in the same location outside the Conservatory to share sketchbooks and take group photos (inside in Gallery Square if weather is bad).
Horniman Museum
Nick Richards

The Horniman Museum was established by Frederick Horniman, a wealthy Victorian tea trader, traveller and collector. The main building, which was opened to the public in 1901, is an Arts and Crafts Movement building by architect Charles Harrison Townsend, who also designed the Whitechapel Gallery and the Bishopsgate Institute.
The Museum has free admission, although there is a charge for the aquarium (£4 for adults) and some temporary exhibitions. The museum is open from 10.30am to 5.30pm, although the café opens at 9.30 am.

The Walrus
Nick Richards
The Horniman offers lots to draw, both indoors and outside:
* As well as the historic main building with it’s modern extension, there is a modern eco building housing the library, and an ornate conservatory
* The museum’s collections include musical instruments from all over the world, a big natural history collection, and an aquarium
* There are 16 acres of gardens, including a formal sunken garden, a bandstand, unusual trees, and a sundial collection
* There are panoramic views over London from the gardens
* An animal walk (open 12.30 to 4pm) has alpacas, goats, sheep, guinea pigs, rabbits and chickens
* The Horniman hosts a farmers’ market on Saturday mornings, near the bandstand.
Nick Richards

The museum has a café which can get quite crowded. There are other cafes and food shops in the area between the museum and Forest Hill station. It has a shop, a cloakroom and toilets.

Inside the museum there are the usual restrictions on using wet media such as watercolour. They don’t have stools to borrow, so you may want to bring one.

How to get there: the nearest station is Forest Hill, which is on the Overground, and on national rail lines from London Victoria and London Bridge. Further information is available on the Horniman website:

This day is run by Nick Richards with Jo Dungey


Tuesday, 31 January 2017


When Tate Modern opened in 2000, the first artist to display work in the gallery’s vast Turbine Hall was Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010). Work on show included Maman (1999), the largest of her spider sculptures.

The spider has become one of Louise Bourgeois’ most well-known themes. Her parents ran a workshop for tapestry restoration. The title Maman alludes to the strength of her mother, with metaphors of spinning, weaving, nurture and protection.

Urban Sketchers London returned to Tate Modern for our sketchcrawl on Saturday 21 January 2017. Here are some of us in the Turbine Hall, looking at the sketches done that afternoon.

Photo: James Hobbs

Although the largest spider sculpture Tate owns, Maman, is not currently on display, the new Tate Switchhouse has an Artist’s Room devoted to Louise Bourgeois. This includes two other spider sculptures on display, which some of us drew:

Lis Watkins

Jo Dungey
Spider 1 (1994)

Marie Desy-Field
Spider 1995


Monday, 30 January 2017

Covent Garden

[By John Webb.] I missed the Sketch Crawl before Christmas in Covent Garden however we went to the Ballet a couple of days earlier and fortunately in sufficient time to pop a sketch into the book.  Really need a bigger page and smaller paint box.  The Royal Opera House is going through another makeover - which is good; can't stand still - in fact there have been 3 theatres there since 1732.  The first 2 burnt down, a common hazard in the days of candles and gaslight. The current one dates from 1858 with the most recent 1996/99 major additions making it a fantastic experience...the auditorium retaining its historic wow factor.


Friday, 20 January 2017

Let’s draw the Barbican - Saturday 25 February 2017

Join us to draw at the Barbican in the City of London. The Barbican Centre is one of London’s major arts centres and the Barbican Estate is a landmark modern housing development by architects Chamberlin, Powell and Bon.

Everyone welcome, bring your own drawing materials, just turn up on the day, which is free of charge.

Silk Street Entrance

Timetable for the day

11 am: Meet inside the main entrance of the Barbican Centre, on Silk Street, for an introduction and short discussion about area's attractions and good drawing spots, lead by Olga Mackness.

Barbican Centre Lakeside Terrace

1.00 pm: midway meeting by the main water feature in the Barbican estate Lakeside Court or if wet, inside in the Barbican Kitchen cafe situated at the same place, opposite the water feature (Level G).

Barbican Centre Lakeside Terrace Entrance

Finish at 3.30 pm at the Barbican Centre Lakeside Terrace Entrance for the group picture and discussion.

Afterwards we will go to the nearby pub The Jugged Hare, 49 Chiswell Street, a stylish gastropub with an English menu. This pub forms part of the famous old Grade II listed Whitbread Brewery (now the Montcalm 5 Star London City Hotel).

Drawing opportunities are endless in the area:

Barbican Centre: the arts centre offers views of the surrounding area and interesting modern interiors. There are also opportunities to draw people and activities in the Centre, and there will be a new temporary light installation by Omer Arbel in the Foyer, level G.

Barbican Estate has many public courts at different levels – exciting opportunities to draw panoramic scenery. Architecture of the complex is fascinating and very distinct. It is a very good chance to enrich your portfolio with sketches of classic modern architecture. There is an exhibition about the architecture of the Barbican in the Barbican Centre Foyer, level G.

St -Giles -without -Cripplegate Church: located within the Barbican complex, on Fore Street. This medieval church survived the Great Fire of London in 1666. Oliver Cromwell was married in this church and John Milton is buried there. There are many marble portraits in the church – of John Milton and other famous people associated with the church. Interesting information is to be discovered there and interiors are great for sketching.

The Museum of London is located at the south-west corner of the Barbican Estate, at the junction of London Wall and Aldersgate Street, above street level. It has free admission.

Nearby, there are remains of the Old London Wall dating from the Roman era, near the south west corner of the Barbican Estate.


The day offers opportunities to draw indoors and out, depending on the weather and your preferences.

There are many cafes and bars inside the Barbican Centre and surrounding area, suitable for all budgets and tastes.

How to get there: Situated in the City of London, the nearest tube stations are Barbican or Moorgate. Further information on the Barbican Centre website:

We look forward to this day sketching together in London.

Day organisers – Olga Mackness and Lis Watkins.
Top drawing by James Hobbs.


Thursday, 19 January 2017

Behind Harrods

[By James Hobbs.] Cycling in the west of London, I passed by the Ecuadorian embassy, which, with the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange still inside more than four years after claiming asylum there, is still in the news. Obama's decision to release the whistleblower Chelsea Manning has heightened speculation Assange will finally make an exit. The embassy, which shares a building with the Colombian embassy, is slap-bang behind Harrods, and watched by bored-looking press photographers from across the street. There was the hope that he would emerge as I drew the scene, but he will want, no doubt, more of a show and a larger audience when that time comes.