UK sketches 2022: London

In June/July I went on my first overseas trip since 2019, and here is the beginning of the sketchbook. (Update: the second half is at UK Sketches 2022: Dartmoor and Glasgow.)

I didn’t sketch a whole lot on the trip. I am editing a large project that is fighting back, and had some other deadlines, and still wasn’t really well yet. And the rest of the time I was catching up with people and/or looking at things with people, neither of which really suit sketching.

But I did draw a fair bit on my three days in London — there was a tube strike, so I only arranged two meetings, and I had my days largely to myself. So in spite of the heat, I got to the V&A and the Soane collection, among others, and walked along canals and met a fashion MA student ( who suggested I go sketch at the Graduate Fashion Week, so I did that, too.

Sketches on cream paper: people dozing in airport
First international flight (second trip) since 2019
Colourful sketches: people sitting and playing on V&A lawns
Sunny day in the V&A courtyard
Sketches of Fashioning Masculinities exhibition at the V&A
The Fashioning Masculinity exhibition at the V&A
V&A sketches: menswear, people looking through microscopes at Beatrix Potter exhibition, pelicans in St James' Park
Men’s fashions, microscopes at the Beatrix Potter exhibition, and pelicans in St James’s Park
Sketches of people looking at racks of clothes at the Roman Road markets
Roman Road Markets
Sketches of photographers
Photographers at the Graduate Fashion Week at the Coal Drops Yard
Sketches of seated audience and very rapid fashion sketches at Graduate Fashion Week
Audience and photographers at the Graduate Fashion Week
Very rapid colourful fashion sketches at Graduate Fashion Week
Fashion sketches! Cambridge School of Visual & Performing Arts
Very rapid colourful fashion sketches at Graduate Fashion Week
Bath School of Design
Very rapid colourful fashion sketches at Graduate Fashion Week, including some shoes
Bath School of Design
Very rapid colourful fashion sketches at Graduate Fashion Week, people wheeling racks of clothes, people along canal
Fashion, racks, a narrowboat bookstore, rowing classes
Pencil notes and sketches made at the Soane museum
Notes at the Soane museum, purposeful abundance, the light of Rome, infinite arpetures, convexities

More sketches soon! (Update: more sketches up at UK Sketches 2022: Dartmoor and Glasgow.)

What I Did On My Holidays: Part the Fourth – York, Scotland, London

Note: If you click on a picture, that should take you through to its Flickr page, where you will have an option to view a larger version.

Part One is here: Brisbane Airport and Oslo.

Part Two is here: Dartmoor.

Part Three is here: World Fantasy and Brighton.

Here is a picture of my grace and elegance demonstrated every time I went outside:

The Dance of the Seven Veils

In York, I crashed Lisa Hannett’s hotel room, and we wandered the town centre, the Shambles and snickleways, which look like something out of Harry Potter or Disney, only real. We also went to the National Railway Museum which was wonderful. I love the romance of all forms of transportation (my honours thesis was on the role of the railway in British children’s novels) while retaining a very tenuous grip on any technical knowledge.

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There are also some sketches from the train to York.

We went on a ghost tour, rambled round the Minster, climbed to the top of the tower, looked for the gargoyles from Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, and I sketched an archaeologist.

When Lisa journeyed on, I spent another day walking the walls and visiting Clifford’s Tower.

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I also had lunch at a church café in a 16th century parish hall, went to choral evensong again, climbed many tilted staircases in secondhand bookstores (acquiring in the end only a tiny red-bound version of the Rubaiyat) and sketched stone masons at the Minster. The next day I caught the train to Scotland, to visit Elizabeth Wein and her family. That is their cat.

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It was an exceedingly pleasant visit, featuring (among many things) icy mornings, piles of books, Lion King conversations, WWII ATA and airforce memorabilia, a constant undertone of volcano-construction and a toy accordion. She took me bellringer-watching again (I did not getting any more used to those tiny twisted staircases).

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And again, on memorial day. She showed me the Birnam Oak (Macbeth-Birnam, that is), and Scone Palace with its thick-iced fountain in the maze and slightly shabby winter peacocks.

I spent one day in Edinburgh, sketching at the Camera Obscura museum and Edinburgh castle, where I met a guide who had – as a very young man – interviewed an Australian (R M Williams) who caught a taxi from London to Scotland to obtain some poetry manuscripts.

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That night, I took the train to London, where I stayed (due to a colourful review) at the Pavilion Fashion Rock’n’Roll Hotel, in the War and Peace room. As the reviews suggest, it is not a hotel to be chosen for luxury or comfort, but for price and relentless (and hilarious) charm it is not to be surpassed. I loved it. How can the creakiest, hardest bed I ever slept in counteract the wonder of this miniature panorama of utter thematic consistency? I’m not sure, but the bathroom bin might even have been a shell casing.

War and Peace at the Pavilion

I spent most of my first morning drawing ducks and Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.

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I sprinted through the V&A, due to it being sunny outside, and spent the afternoon dashing in and out of bookstores near Charing Cross Road before going to see the musical of Mathilda with a friend from Brisbane.

The next day I planned to see more of London but changed my mind and platforms at Paddington and went to Oxford instead. I loved Oxford. The museum and café patrons are all erudite and enthusiastic, like characters out of Sayers or Walsh (depending on their age).

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The next day I started with three books worth of tourism in one blow – walking to Baker Street, travelling to the end of the Lewisham line and walking back to Greenwich, thereby netting the first line of The Magician’s Nephew: When Sherlock Holmes was living in Baker Street and the Bastables were digging for treasure in Lewisham Road….

I almost vanished forever in a junk shop, visited the fan museum, then went to the Royal Observatory where I drew people standing on the prime meridian and got teary-eyed over chronometers thanks Kendall’s poem “Five Visions of Captain Cook”.

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Below is a glimpse of my room at the Pavilion, from my vantage point in the canopied bed (you can see one foot). The bed was not comfortable, but the decor more than compensated. I think the bathroom bin may have been a shell casing.

I went for coffee with Stella at Egmont Publishing, which was lovely and exciting – especially the tour of the publisher and their library! – then went to Portobello Road for the sake of Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and bought a marching soldier, a lead tiger and a box of tiny riderless horses.

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Then to the airport and so, by degrees, home again.