Monday, March 30, 2009

Some of my favourite gardens

As many of you will already know, I love sketching in gardens. I've written about them previously in Gardens and Botanical Art over on Making a Mark. However I've been making a lot of websites about gardens recently so that I can share them with people - and I thought they might be of interest or use to fellow bloggers who enjoy sketching in gardens

The gardens I've been making websites fall into one of two categories. They are:
  • either some of my favourite gardens
  • or important gardens which deserve highlighting - and are going on my 'to visit' list.
If you fancy travelling with your sketchbook to some of my favourite gardens (or just pay a virtual visit) why not check out the following websites - you'll find all the logistics details as well as what commentary on what they have to offer. You can easily bookmark them or share them with others using the functions in the right hand column of each site. Now I've got my laptop up and running again, I'm planning to include some slideshows of photos I've taken at some of the gardens

You'll also find some of my sketches providing some visual interest on a number of the sites!

Some of my favourite gardens

The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
Over a million people visit the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew each year. The 300 acres of gardens and botanical collections are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which means they rank alongside Stonehenge, the Pyramids, and the Taj Mahal!

RHS Wisley - a Great Garden
Wisley Garden, in Surrey, is the flagship garden of the Royal Horticultural Society and is probably the most visited garden in the UK after Kew Gardens.

Munstead Wood - a great garden
For garden designers, Munstead Wood in Surrey is one of the most famous gardens in England. It was the home of Gertrude Jekyll who is renowned as a plantswoman. She created ways of planting which were very innovative in their day - and the garden at Munstead Wood was one of the places where she tried out her ideas.

Sissinghurst Castle Garden - a great garden
Sissinghurst Castle Garden in Kent is probably the most famous 20th century garden in the UK and is an English Heritage Historic Garden Grade I. It's also recently been the subject of a BBC Documentary series. It's one of my favourite gardens for the sheer variety and yet domestic scale.

Great Dixter - a great garden
Great Dixter in East Sussex was created by Christopher Lloyd and is a garden which is extremely popular with plantsman gardeners - those who particularly like plants and flowers. It's also quite close to Sissinghurst.

Tatton Park - a great garden
The gardens at Tatton Park in Cheshire are rated as being among the most impressive in England. Tatton Park has also been the the home of the RHS Flower Show since 1999. The 50 acre gardens are laid out in a traditional Edwardian fashion around the mansion home of the Edgerton family. Both are located within a 1,000 acre deer park. This is a garden I often used to visit as a child and that I now return to as an adult when visiting family.

Bodnant Garden - a great garden
Bodnant Garden in North Wales is one of the most beautiful gardens in the UK and is world-famous. It comprises lawns, terraced gardens and is noted for its botanical collections and wide range of plants. I used to visit when a child and memories of the laburnum arbor are still very fresh in my memory

Giverny - a great garden
Giverny is a very famous garden created and painted by Claude Monet. When I visited Giverny for the first time I was immediately struck by the fact that Monet did not only create art with oils.

My 'to visit' list

The Lost Gardens of Heligan - a great garden
These Cornish Gardens are now famous in the UK. They were left to grow wild for decades before a major restoration project was started in 1996 by Tim Smit. Although still part of an ongoing project, the garden now attracts a huge number of visitors

Malmaison - a great garden
The Château de Malmaison was the home of Napoléon's first wife - the Empress Joséphine and became the birthplace of the tea rose. The garden she developed included more than 250 varieties of roses and other exotic flowers from her native West Indies, and rare species from Australia. The catalogue of the garden became famous as one of the most exquisite publications of botanical art in the world.

In reality, you only need one bookmark if you want to keep track of what's going on - and that's Great Gardens of the World - which also includes some gardens recommended by other people

If you like any or all of the garden sites - or have visited any of the gardens - please leave can comment below or on any of the sites. You don't need to be a member of squidoo to comment.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Barts and The Bankside Gallery

Bankside Gallery - reception
8" x 10", coloured pencils in Moleskine sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Yesterday I spent the morning at an event in the Great Hall at Barts Hospital providing patient feedback on their handling of improvements to their Outpatient Appointments Service. After lunch I walked down Old Bailey and across Blackfriars Bridge to the Bankside Gallery to see the Spring Exhibition of the Royal Watercolour Society

The NHS is rather good at implementing new computer systems that don't work well to start with. You'd think that after c.40 years the NHS would have learned a few lessons about systems implementation and what not to do. Sadly that didn't seem to be the case in April 2008 when chaos descended upon Barts Outpatients Service as they implemented a new system which was obviously not ready to go live in terms of staff capacity, training and functionality. No beta testing with real staff, no parallel running - they just dived straight in!

In the past I've managed support services which have included both the implementation of new IT systems and the complaints function and I'm a huge advocate of making a complaint if something is not working. No manager is ever going to be able to fix a system properly if they never get to hear what it's like from a customer/patient/client perspective.

Great Hall, Barts Hospital (Appointments Centre - Patient Event)
pencil in Moleskine sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

So - I duly made a complaint about system performance last year - and it was very nice to get invited to an event at Barts yesterday which was focused on telling patients what had happened since April to improve the system and asking us what we'd like to see happen to make it a first class service. We managed to come up with a few ideas! The one I liked best was the notion of printing a map of how to locate a clinic in the hospital on the back of the appointment letter! (Due to the fact that the Barts and the London Trust has never devoted enough priority or spent enough money on adequate signage for patients!)

One of the real benefits for me of the visit to Barts was getting to walk up the very grand stairs to the Great Hall which has the most amazing (and enormous!) murals by William Hogarth.

William Hogarth’s paintings on the staircase of the North Wing depict the Biblical stories of the Good Samaritan and Christ healing the Lame Man at the Pool of Bethesda, with the people in the paintings said to be modelled on real patients.
Barts and the London NHS Trust
The afternoon was then spent at the Bankside Gallery viewing the latest exhibition by Members and Associate Members of the Royal Watercolour Society. You can read a review of the exhibition on Making A Mark which I'm writing straight after I've posted this post!

All the walls in the sketch at the top are in fact white - but the reception area when viewed from the end of the gallery is quite luminous and has an amazing combination of coloured whites which are most attractive to view - and to sketch.

The figure behind the desk is Frank Kiely RE, who is an award-winning printmaker (producing mostly screenprints) and a member of the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers. He's also an amazingly helpful chap and we had a very nice discussion yesterday about how to get your (my!) head around linocutting!

Frank also told me that there are going to be a number of print-making demonstrations at the Gallery associated with the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers Annual Exhibition 2009 which runs from Friday 8th May to Sunday 7th June 2009 - of which more details later.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

RWS Sketching Day in South Kensington

Our scheduled RWS Sketching Day on Sunday was at the Science Museum in South Kensington to sketch but it was a such a lovely day in London that I opted for sketching outside.

I ended up sitting in the shade on the steps of the Royal College of Music sketching the back of the Royal Albert Hall.

South aspect of the Royal Albert Hall, South Kensington
11.5" x 8.5", pencil and coloured pencils in sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Followed by sitting in the Cafe Consort in the Royal Albert Hall sketching the architecture Royal College of Music above where I'd been sitting.

I can highly recommend the first stop for music while you work as the students had the windows of the basement music practice rooms open and I can cofnrim that get a very good standard of piano practice at the Royal College!

Royal College of Music from the Cafe Consort, Royal Albert Hall 11.5" x 8.5", pencil and coloured pencils in sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

It was an interesting day in relation to studying the impact of light on red brick. The first sketch of the Albert Hall was in bright sunlight and one of the Royal College was 'contre jour' with all the brickwork in shadow.

We had lunch in the Blue Cafe at the far end of the Science Museum. There's lots to sketch (the Apollo 10 command module 1969, Stephenson's Rocket locomotive 1829 etc) - just not a lot of places to sit to sketch out of the way of people on the ground floor. I should think week days might be quieter.

I came home with a present from the Science Museum bookshop for "he who must not be bored while I sketch or watch art programmes" - a facsimile copy of an Eagle Annual with a selection of highlights from the 1950s!

I too used to read the Eagle comic when I was little - Dan Dare rules OK?!


Monday, March 16, 2009

Lunch at Carluccios at St Pancras International

Lunch at Carluccios, St Pancras International
8" x 11.5", pencil in sketchbook

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I always enjoy sketching interiors of restaurants and this was the one I did over lunch with the RWS Friends Sketching Group on our visit to St Pancras last month. Of course people were coming and going the whole time and the only thing that stood still was the structure of the room!

You can see more sketches of interiors drawn 'on the spot' on my website here - Interior Landscapes - drawings by Katherine Tyrrell

You can also read my 10 Tips for How to Sketch People

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sissinghurst and the BBC4 documentary

Sissinghurst - Elizabethan Barn and Fields
8" x 11.5", coloured pencils on Arches HP

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

This is a view I love every time I visit Sissinghurst - of the fields seen through the arches of the great Elizabethan Farm. I don't often put formal completed drawings on my sketchbook blog but this one seemed appropriate. Regular readers will know I love travelling with my sketchbook to sketch in gardens and that one of the gardens I love drawing is Sissinghurst in Kent. I've updated my information site Sissinghurst Castle Garden - a great garden to include links to the BBC iplayer and the first six episodes of the new BBC4 documentary Sissinghurst.
Documentary series about the attempts of writer Adam Nicolson and his wife Sarah Raven to bring farming back into the heart of the estate and garden at Sissinghurst Castle in Kent, their historic home which is owned by the National Trust and was moulded into its present form by Nicolson's grandmother Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicolson back in the 1930s. BBC iplayer
We've been avid watchers every Sunday night. I have to confess we're loving the 'behind the scenes' perspective on Sissinghurst and seeing all the people who are involved with its upkeep. However we're also slightly cringing at times at the entrenched perspectives and lack of understanding about different ways of doing things which have been evident in the series so far. It was very nice to see last Sunday that the tide is finally turning........ I'm certainly looking forward to trying the new salads and food from the farm in the revamped Barn Restaurant when I start my sketching visits this year. Sissinghurst garden opens for the 2009 season today - Sunday 15th March. It's now open from 11am to 6.30pm from 15 March to 2 November 2009 every day of the week except for Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

St Pancras International - home of the Eurostar

The Eurostars at St Pancras - sketched from Carluccios
8" x 11.5", pencil and coloured pencils in sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Continuing the visit by the RWS Friends Sketching Group to St Pancras Station, this is the sketch I made of the Eurostar trains from the end of their very long platforms. Only one of them pulled out of the station before I'd finished!

St Pancras

The station has a very long history and is associated with some celebrated architecture.
St Pancras is often termed the ‘cathedral of the railways’, and includes two of the most celebrated structures built in Britain in the Victorian era. The main train shed, completed in 1868 by the engineer William Henry Barlow, was the largest single-span structure built up to that time. The frontage of the station is formed by St Pancras Chambers, formerly the Midland Grand Hotel (1868–1877), an impressive example of Victorian gothic architecture.
Wikipedia - St Pancras
Its main purpose, until recently, was to act as the southern terminus of trains arriving from the cities of Leicester, Nottingham, Derby, Sheffield, and smaller towns in between.

However, in recent years it has had a major makeover and was re-opened in November 2007 with a new identity as St Pancras International - the London station which is now home to the Eurostar trains which travel to Europe via the Channel Tunnel.

The Eurostar

The Eurostar enables people to take a train direct from London to Paris, Brussels or Lille - and at certain times of the year direct to Avignon and Disneyland Resort Paris. I hadn't realised they did a direct train to Avignon - I shall have to go and study the prices!

At this time of year there is also a ski train direct to the French Alps. You can check out more details of how to travel at the Eurostar website and also see all the other places it's possible to travel to using connections.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

John Betjeman and St Pancras

In February the RWS Friends Sketching Group visited St Pancras Station for our monthly outing. I realised that I'd not been to St Pancras since all the construction work for its new role as St Pancras International - the London based terminus for the Eurostar had been completed and the visit was quite a revelation!

I've got three posts about the trip starting with this sketch.

Statue of Sir John Betjeman
8,5" x 11.5", pencil and coloured pencils in sketchbook

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

We all had to meet by the very splendid Sir John Betjeman statue which is at the platform level above the amazing collection of shops which now inhabit the Undercroft.

He's a bit bigger than lifesize and is cast in bronze which has patinated to a lovely turquoise colour. It's a very popular statue - this is the sketch which excludes all the people who came up to get their photo taken standing next to him and it's also minus the teddie bears that one very silly man kept trying to stuff into the space made by his arm!

Sir John Betjeman
was instrumental in saving St Pancras station as he was a huge fan of both Victorian architecture and trains.

He was also the Poet Laureate and most people's favourite poet for quite a few years.
He became Poet Laureate in 1972, and this combined with his popularity as a television performer ensured that his poetry eventually reached an audience enormous by the standards of the time. Like Tennyson, he appeals to a very wide public and manages to voice the thoughts and aspirations of many ordinary people while retaining the respect of many of his fellow poets. This is partly because of the apparently simple traditional metrical structures and rhymes he uses (but not nearly as simple as they might appear).
Wikipedia - John Betjeman
Here are some articles written about him at the time St Pancras reopened after its Eurostar update.
and this is the website of Martin Jennings, the sculptor who created the statue - with some photographs of process and comments.

More sketches from St Pancras to come.


Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Looking east from London Bridge

This is the view looking east from the southern end of London Bridge - right next to the rather impressive building at No 1 London Bridge which houses the offices of PricewaterhouseCoopers.

London Bridge looking east #2
11.5" x 8.5" coloured pencils in sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Parts of the foreshore were exposed but the tide was coming in quite fast while I sketched.

This sketch, as always, has to be done standing up because of the height of the bridge 'walls'. I usually have a time limit of about 10 minutes for standing which I think I might have stretched a bit! Which could of course be the reason why, a minute after I left this spot, I took a tumble down the steps to Borough Market on the other side of the road (see the previous post).

Sunday, March 01, 2009

A 'trip' to Borough Market, Southwark

A view of Borough Market from behind the KäseSwiss stand
11.5" x 8.5", coloured pencils in sketchbook

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I'm way behind with posting my sketches so I'm starting near the end and working backwards!

These are a couple of sketches which I did on Friday when I visited Borough Market, next to Southwark Cathedral, with the Drawing London Group. I should have remembered to take my sketching chair with me but the failure of my laptop that morning made me late setting off and I forgot.

Southwark Cathedral and stallholders in Borough Market
8.5" x 11.5" coloured pencils in sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Standing sketches are limited to either 10 minutes max or can only be done when resting against a suitable bollard - such as the one on the right! Fortunately I found a friendly stall holder with a trolley for the sketch at the top!

I've got more sketches - for later in the week.

It's worth noting that Southwark Cathedral has a very nice refectory which is a bit difficult to find but is a great place to have sit down and a bowl of soup after a hard morning's sketching!

One nice additional twist to sketching at Borough Market on a Friday is that you can do the weekend food shopping before you go home.

Last night we had cod fillet landed at Whitby in North Yorkshire (from the mega fish stall) from Furness Fish and Poultry. Tonight I'm doing a pot roast with some very nice looking brisket from The Ginger Pig who are free range farmers and butchers of rare breeds. These are the details and opening hours of the Ginger Pig Market Stand. Apparently they now also have a Hog Blog! Plus fruit and veggies from assorted stall holders. I could only stand and look at all the wonderful cheese as the "soon to be slimline me" likes her cheese a bit too much and isn't allowed any right now!

There is yet another twist to this tale - which generated the title for this blog post.

People who know me also know I have very dodgy feet (I've got a tissue disability which has led to a spontaneous ruptured instep among other things!) so I have to be very careful as my balance is now very poor. Stairs are a nightmare and you can normally find me hugging the handrail. This time I ignored all my normal risk management techniques and took a purler down the last four steps of the steps inbetween Southwark Cathedral and Borough Market. Luckily I was OK as it could have been a lot worse. Except last night in the bath I found that the bruises have now come out and certain areas of my anatomy are now an interesting shade of blue and very sensitive!