Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Sketching Group at lunch

11" x 15" pencil in double page spread of sketchbook
all sketches copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I'm off to St. Pancras Station tomorrow with my sketching group. I'm posting this to see if anybody recognises themselves from my sketches of some of the members of the group during our lunch in Spitalfields in January. No names, no packdrill!

When sketching people sitting along a table, I always tend to draw the big shape first and then come back and work out how much information I need to provide for each individual. It's an approach which works really well when you're drawing contre jour (against the daylight) as I was - and you can't see a lot of detail in any case!

I love people who wear glasses - they make an additional aid which helps with drawing angles and proportions!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

The religious extremes of Fournier Street in Spitalfields

Christ Church Spitalfields from the Market Cafe
11" x 8", pencil and coloured pencils in sketchbook

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Last month, I went with the RWS Friends to Spitalfields for our monthly sketching trip. I did three sketches, nearly lost my sketchbook and acquired some new alpaca fingerless gloves with mitten enhancement!

There are religious buildings at either end of Fournier Street in Spitalfields. At the eastern end, where I started, there is a Grade 2* listed building which has been, in turn:
  • a Church for French Huguenot silk weavers - who settled in the area in the seventeenth century
  • a Great Synagogue for the Jewish community who began to live in the area in the middle of the nineteenth century
  • a Mosque for the latest wave of immigrants to the area - the Bengali community from Syhlet in Bangladesh who started to settle the area in the late twentieth century.
A building with a history - Spitalfields Mosque
11" x 16", pencil and coloured pencils in double page sketchbook

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I stood to do this sketch in Brick Lane which is now a well know place to go for a curry in the East End. I used to go to the Clifton in Brick Lane some 30 years ago when it was still essentially a lunchtime cafe for garment workers and used to have formica topped tables, the most amazing murals of ladies reclining on the walls - and the one of the best tandoori in London!

Fournier Street
itself contains some very fine eighteenth century terraced houses built for the master weavers - with garret workshops with very large windows for the silk weaving. They're now all Grade II listed buildings. Fournier Street is also home to Gilbert and George (no. 12) and Tracey Emin.

At the western end of Fournier Street is what is regarded as Nicholas Hawksmoor (1661-1734)'s masterpiece - Christ Church, Spitalfields. It's Grade 1 listed which means it is of exceptional historical interest and was built between 1714 and 1729. British History Online has details of the craftsmen's accounts for the building of Christ Church.

I sat outside the Market Cafe in Brushfield Street which has the best view of the front of the church. Not to be confused with The Market Cafe in Fournier Street which used to be frequented by Gilbert and George and is now officially a "lost caff"

I'm going to save my people sketching for another post!


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The snowman cometh....

...well actually there were quite a few snowmen assembled in the UK yesterday.

Kids who have never ever seen snow like we had yesterday in London (6-8") and the southeast (8-12") were all out making snowmen. They were everywhere!

Here's a selection of what I saw on my slow walk in the snow to the Ecology Park ponds and Victoria Park and back again.

Snowmen of Bow
Top row (left) Morgan Street snowman - best conventional 5' snowman
(right) Victoria Park snowman - winner of the biggest roundest ball of snow
Bottom row (left) Art Pavilion snowman - style over substance prize
(right) Tredegar square snowman - "coolest" snowman - it had legs(!) and its very own spiky hair!
(Those are teenagers building it not children)

Half the newspapers commented on the travel chaos. Happily the other half found time to comment on what a wonderful day people had yesterday in the midst of the gloom and doom! Walking in the snow, tobogganing, snowboarding, having snowball fights and making snowmen.

As one person commented - everybody found time to talk to one another! Plus it was great fun watching the children experience heavy snow for the very first time. It was also noted that there were quite a few adult "children" out and about.

No sketching yesterday - all the seats were piled high with snow and total focus had to be maintained on staying upright!

However I did come across this poem for the first time
London Snow
by Robert Bridges

When men were all asleep the snow came flying,
In large white flakes falling on the city brown,
Stealthily and perpetually settling and loosely lying,
Hushing the latest traffic of the drowsy town;
Deadening, muffling, stifling its murmurs failing;
Lazily and incessantly floating down and down:
Silently sifting and veiling road, roof and railing;
Hiding difference, making unevenness even,
Into angles and crevices softly drifting and sailing.
All night it fell, and when full inches seven
It lay in the depth of its uncompacted lightness,
The clouds blew off from a high and frosty heaven;
And all woke earlier for the unaccustomed brightness
Of the winter dawning, the strange unheavenly glare:
The eye marvelled - marvelled at the dazzling whiteness;
The ear hearkened to the stillness of the solemn air;
No sound of wheel rumbling nor of foot falling,
And the busy morning cries came thin and spare.
Then boys I heard, as they went to school, calling,
They gathered up the crystal manna to freeze
Their tongues with tasting, their hands with snowballing;
Or rioted in a drift, plunging up to the knees;
Or peering up from under the white-mossed wonder!'
'O look at the trees!' they cried, 'O look at the trees!'
With lessened load a few carts creak and blunder,
Following along the white deserted way,
A country company long dispersed asunder:
When now already the sun, in pale display
Standing by Paul's high dome, spread forth below
His sparkling beams, and awoke the stir of the day.
For now doors open, and war is waged with the snow;
And trains of sombre men, past tale of number,
Tread long brown paths, as toward their toil they go:
But even for them awhile no cares encumber
Their minds diverted; the daily word is unspoken,
The daily thoughts of labour and sorrow slumber
At the sight of the beauty that greets them, for the charm they have broken.
PS For the record I only fell over once and I was (rather stupidly!) crossing a grassy slope at the time! The snow was very dry and powdery so if you stuck to less frequented places and 'dry' patches it wasn't too difficult to walk. Today however the pavements look like they're lethal!