Sunday, December 07, 2008

Sunday Papers at Somerset House

I went sketching at Somerset House with the Friends of the Bankside Gallery/RWS three weeks ago. These are the remaining sketches from that trip.

I should explain that it drizzled virtually non-stop all the time. I tried working outside but my sketchbook hates water and started to ripple so virtually all of what I did was done from indoors!

Sunday Papers at Somerset House
11" x 8", pencil and coloured pencils in sketchbook

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

This sketch is of people sat in the foyer in between the Courtyard and the Terrace at the back which looks out over the Thames. They just sat very still reading their papers - and I couldn't resist drawing them against the fabulous windows and columns and the coloured greys of a late autumnal day.

The sketch below was done from the rear terrace - which is huge. At one end I could see the three of the tallest buildings in the City of London above the trees which were turning colour but were still holding on to a great deal of leaves.

From left to right the buildings in front of my fellow sketcher are:
  • St Paul's Cathedral (1677) - which features in quite a few of my sketches around and about the City of London
  • Tower 42 - the former NatWest Tower (1980) which used to be the tallest building in the UK until One Canada Square was built at Canary Wharf in 1990.
  • 30 St Mary Axe (2003) - also known as The Gherkhin
The view from Somerset House Terrace (in drizzle!)
8" x 11",
pencil and coloured pencils in sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

See also my sketch of the ice rink in Anyone for skating?

Somerset House is a great location for people who wanting somewhere to sketch in London as it offers lots of opportunities in all weathers terms of both interiors and outside locations plus it has good refreshment facilities and conveniences. Always a boon if you're staying in one place for any length of time!

Somerset House

Somerset House is inbetween the Strand and the the River Thames - just below the Aldwych. It has a very long and complicated history and was once one of the Royal Palaces. It was built in 1547 and was subsequently altered and added to by both Christopher Wren and Inigo Jones.

Queen Elizabeth I lived there when her sister Mary was the Queen and Oliver Cromwell lay in state here before his funeral. The Royal Academy of Arts had its first home here and for very many years it was the home of the Royal Society, the Navy Board, the Inland Revenue and the Stamp Office and was the place where all the details of births marriages and deaths were lodged.

Latterly it's become a centre for the visual arts, music and film. The Courtauld Institute of Art, including the Courtauld Gallery, now occupy space here plus there are workshops and learning ppportunities.

There is also a gallery in the Terrace Rooms which currently has an exhibition of Richard Bryant’s Photographic Celebration of a City until 8 March 2009. It's open daily 10.00-18.00, Thursday lates till 21.00 except 27 November till 18.00. Terrace Rooms, free entry. It's well worth a look if you are in the area



  1. What a wonderful view with that variety of trees but I really love Sunday Papers at Somerset House, Katherine. Colour, composition, atmosphere. Makes my longing for an English language Sunday paper even more acute.

  2. What a lovely sketch of Somerset House. I studied there a few years ago and loved walking around the building, drawing and imagining things. I actually just published a children's book (which I wrote and illustrated) about Somerset House. . Thanks for the inspiring sketch of my favourite building in the world.

  3. I really enjoy your soft colors in your sketches. Wonderful work.


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