Any urban sketcher knows that it’s almost impossible to walk past an art shop without looking inside and buying at least a new pencil. So, when I walked past Cowling and Wilcox, on Holloway Road a few years ago, I gave in to a new Daler Rowney sketch book, about A5 size.
I go to London regularly – partly family visits to our son and also to draw some of my Great North Road street drawing series, Holloway Road.
This ancient route has shown up at key points in my life: at school in York, going to University in Edinburgh and now as our son has made his home beside it. I’ve made a start drawing chunks of the buildings along the Holloway Road and the photo above is on one of the sunnier days sketching out Denmark Place preparing for the formal architectural drawing. It’s only when you stop to draw that you notice things like date stones way up the top.
Back to the sketch book. I decided to keep this one just for sketching during my London visits. Three years later, it’s full!
I’d like to share some of the content from time to time. All the sketches are made on location and most sketched in about five minutes. Less than minutes for my wobbly sketches from the top of a bus!
It’s easy enough to spot the ones made in the time taken to enjoy a brew in a cafe.
More sketches of Holloway Road to follow soon, but if you are in Highbury, pop in to The Only Place For Pictures and see a few more London streets.
Getting back in the groove can be an effort, but it’s always helped by a brew. It’s been a while since I wrote here but it’s time to return to the sketch book. I have had 10th October 2015 in the diary for some time as it is the first #ArchitectureDrawingDay, set up by the RIBA as part of The Big Draw.
This year’s theme for the Big Draw is ‘Every Picture Tells a Story’. I packed my pencil case and took off to London to draw a few more sights on the Holloway Road, the old A1, that Great North Road.
No better sight at Euston, than the 253 which heads out to Nags Head:
Hopped off the bus at the Nag’s Head and found a bench free opposite this lovely frontage. The sun was out, so I pitched up to draw.
A few hours later, I made my way down the road for a bite to eat where I could continue drawing outside but under awnings. Had a tasty lunch at Constolia – and drew this domed character opposite. I have no idea about its history – have you? I would love to hear from you if you can shed some light on the building.
Festac nightclub and Holloway Mosque sit below this red brick and stone building – for an intriguing insight into this hot-spot corner of the Holloway Road, have a read of Islington Now .
Then, only a few hours later and it’s time to go home. This time back on the number 29 bus.
Thats all for now. I will say goodbye with the back of a very fine London bus.
Been such a tonic to spend the day with #ArchitectureDrawingDay.
I have returned to drawing Holloway Road, the Great North Road – and paused to draw Dorset House in more detail. It caught my eye as it is quite small compared with its neighbours yet with a few faded classical details, it quietly holds its own.
Here it is in context with its neighbours:
I have tried to find out a little bit of the history of the building but not got very far until today perhaps…
We have been down to London to join today’s walk in support of Crohns and Colitis UK. The walk takes place every June, and around a thousand supporters walk through the City as a fundraiser and to raise awareness of this disease.
Walking has a lot in common with drawing as it allows you the time and space to enjoy details in the landscape and architecture you might otherwise miss. In this picture, we are walking along South Bank towards Southwark Bridge and you can just make out its trident lamposts above a band of green; here’s part of the bridge in detail:
Having only just finished drawing Dorset House, I immediately recognised the balustrade detailing and couldn’t help but wonder if it is by the the same architect. looking at the plaque, I see that Sir Ernest George designed this bridge.
I love finding little details like this. If you know anything about this architect, or Dorset House, I would be delighted to hear from you.
Thanks to my Holloway twitter buddies, @RuthRobinsonLon, @TheHornseyRoad, @HollowayLife and in particular Mark Perronet @AtomGalleryN4, prints of some of my Holloway Road drawings are now up on display in the Atom Gallery, Stroud Green Road, London N4. It’s a five minute walk from Finsbury Park tube station.
The exhibition opens tonight and runs until 4th April 2015. I really wish I could be there but I am grounded with three pelvic fractures, a fractured drawing arm and a chipped elbow. All my own doing as I fell on our own doorsteps, in broad daylight and stone cold sober!
Good luck to everyone showing at the Atom Gallery and thanks Mark, for this wonderful opportunity.
This post is dedicated to my new Twitter Buddies: @The Hornsey Road @Holloway Life @RuthRobinsonLon and AmySmith@Art_Press – a lively bunch!
Walking out of our son’s home on Windsor Road one day last year, I turned right to nip to the corner shop. It wasn’t until I stood at the crossing on my return, that I looked up to take in the sight of Albermarle Mansions. These buildings stand on what is the Great North Road, an old coaching route from London to York and up to Edinburgh. Follow this road into York and you will go past my old school on Blossom Street, through Micklegate Bar and down Micklegate, another York street which I have begun to sketch. I went on to University in Edinburgh so I am curious to know the exact route of the Great North Road. I have sent off for a book on this subject by Frank Morley – so more on this another time.
Back to Holloway Road. I began with a few sketches of the windows which I shared on social media. Much to my delight I had some more feedback from @TheHornseyRoad with a glimpse into life here over a century ago. There must be more insights into the former life of these buildings – if you know anything, I would love to hear from you.
One of the reasons that I like to draw full length street scenes is to show buildings in context to illustrate what happens when good but ordinary buildings disappear and they are replaced with buildings of a completely different scale and proportion.
Much as I love old buildings, I do love well designed new buildings too, but know only too well how hard it is for architects to see their great ideas watered down to meet budgets. It is interesting to see how the oldest buildings (Kale Food Centre) have been dwarfed over the course of the century by the most recent bookend ‘Bloomfield Court’.
I will be scanning the drawing and adding it in full to my website next week and will also be running off a limited edition set of fine art prints. Watch this space and thanks for reading!
The last few days have been spent mostly on trains and buses and taxis – no bicycles other than the above. I have only caught a passing glimpse of the awful events that have happened in Paris, but am heartened by the response of seeing so many drawings and cartoons appear online with ‘Je Suis Charlie’.
Drawing has become so much part of my life that I would now feel quite lost without pen and paper and I think the best tribute we can make to the lives lost is to pick up our pens, so much mightier than any sword or gun for that matter, and write, draw and give thanks for their lives lived to the full.
So a couple of drawn days in my life – collecting my son on his return form Hong Kong – our first Christmas without him – shhh… he missed a good one!
All this sketching needs fuel – found at the pre-sketched Golden Croissant on the Holloway Road!
May the souls of the French artists rest in peace and thanks for reading.
Over the past year, I have been regularly posting sketches and work-in-progress photos on social media. It has been a bit of a slog understanding how it all works but it has gradually paid off as I get a real buzz when people who live or work in the buildings respond positively to my sketches and a conversation kicks off.
I was delighted when @TheHornseyRoad got in touch to ask if they could use my sketches of Bathurst Mansions on a blog post. Of course I said yes – I was intrigued to discover a little more about the building.
It turns out that on 2 Feb 1903, Bathurst Mansions was the birthplace of Hilton Edwards, who went on to direct Orson Welles in his first and last role on stage: ‘Few men of the present day theatre have sought so consistently to throw off the shackles of conventional drama as Hilton Edwards and Orson Welles have done’. There is more to read about this fascinating insight into the life of these buildings on The Hornsey Road blog post.
I draw these street scenes and sketch buildings because they mean something to me and I would miss them if they disappeared. Bathurst Mansions are quite a show stopper, standing proud on the corner of this busy crossroad. If you pause for a moment and look up, you will notice the care and skill that has gone into crafting the masonry, it really is a work of art.
Discovering insights into the life of buildings is one of the main reasons I draw streets – to record them as moments of living history; the drawings are brought to life with such nuggets of memory.Thank you @TheHornseyRoad.
Thanks for reading and keep in touch with me on Twitter @RonnieCruwys
PS Watch out for those Stokies playing Arsenal at the weekend, my husband and son will be there hopefully singing Delilahs and shouting ‘Go Stoke!’
Over the summer, I spent some time down in London, with our son. I was in the middle of Sketch Book Skool drawing frenzy, making the most of every moment I could to draw – even on the top of a London bus!
Once you start sketching, you can’t help but notice how much more you want to draw and it was during this time that I made the rash promise to myself that I would draw the Holloway Road.
After a few months preparation I have begun to work on the first of what I hope will be many more drawings, but thought you would like a flavour of what’s to come with some of my summer sketches.