Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Courtauld, Old Bank of England and West Smithfield

This is the story of my day out in London last Friday and two large sketches I did.

On Friday we had a special trip and lunch arranged for the 60th Birthday of a member of one of my drawing groups. Susan told us she'd never celebrated any of her big birthdays before so this time was spending nine days on celebrations and treats! Which I think is an excellent way of celebrating being 60.

Courtauld Gallery

We started at the Courtauld Galleries at Somerset House with a visit to the Michaelangelo's Dream exhibition. It's always so nice to see drawings by one of the masters and this was no exception. I'll do a review next week on Making A Mark

I couldn't resist a quick scamper round the other galleries as the Courtauld Collection of paintings and sculpture is so good!

Old Bank of England

We then walked up the Strand, past St Mary le Strand Church and Wren's St Clement Danes Church (aka the RAF Church), the Royal Courts of Justice and along Fleet Street to the Old Bank of England Pub - which used to be the Law Courts branch of the Bank of England.

This is a sketch of our group (Les went for the toning shirt!) sitting in the back room of the pub ordering our lunch and looking at easy other's sketchbooks. Les has been ion a recent trip to the Antarctic and had his sketching journal with him which was facsinating - and will be the subject of a future post on this blog.

A birthday lunch at the Bank of England
11.5" x 17", pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine Sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

After lunch I left the drawing group and continued on down Fleet Street and then up Ludgate Hill into the City of London towards St Pauls. My route took me left up Old Bailey and past the Central Criminal Courts and to Barts (St Bartholomew's Hospital) to go and get my bloods done for my annual checkup.

West Smithfield

West Smithfield (garden to the left and Smithfield market in background)
11.5" x 17", pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils
in Moleskine Sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Then out past the new extension and into Little Britain where I turned left to go up to West Smithfield. It has a considerable history and a considerable place in history.
Smithfield was a place of public execution for over 400 years. Here heretics, rebels and criminals were burnt, beheaded or boiled. In 1305 Scottish hero William Wallace was hanged, drawn and quartered after being dragged there behind a horse.

In 1381 Wat Tyler, leader of the Peasants' Revolt, gathered his army in Smithfield and was stabbed by the Mayor of London. The injured Tyler was taken to the hospital at St Bartholomew's Church, but dragged out again and beheaded.
West Smithfield Garden
Here I sat on a stone step in the shade and sketched the scene in front of me - Smithfield Market, the people standing around drinking on the street in the sunshine, the waiters from the local restaurant on their very brief break between lunch and dinner - and the cherry blossom.

I'm very pleased with this one. It's my first long complicated sketch of the year done entirely plein air and it came off well I think. The blue sky and the balmy weather helped I think!

I'd also like to say a special thank you to Hokusai and Hiroshige for reminding me of the strength of designs in their pictures of cherry trees and that you can have a tree trunk which is barely in the picture plane!


  1. AnonymousJune 03, 2010

    WOW!! your drawing are really awesome. I found you searching for artist and I came across the site Squidoo or something and I wanted to leave a comment but I couldn't find the option. Squidoo is a new site for me. So I was trying to see if you have a blog or something more simple for me to leave a message. I just want to say that your sketch drawing and art in general just ROCK!!!! they are so awesome and it is an honour to me to follow you.


  2. These are scrumptious, Katherine. I especially love the "wash" on the walls of the Old Bank of England,which looks rosy/mauve on my computer-- not sure how you get that wash-effect with dry media but I marvel at it every time.

  3. Katherine, I'm sporadically looked at your sketches, but finally need to tell you how much I enjoy them. I don't have much of an art background---I stumbled across your blog while looking for information on Knole several years ao---but I very much enjoy your work, both the art and the history. I am especially interested in London, so enjoy all of those sketches and comments.


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