Friday, 17 November 2017

London marks 10 years of USk

[Posted by James Hobbs] Urban Sketchers is 10. When Gabi Campanario set up its Flickr group in 2007 he could hardly have imagined how far and wide things would go. (The Flickr group now has 10,000 members and more than a quarter of a million images, never mind the other social media routes.) Last weekend, as part of the global sketchwalk organised by Urban Sketchers to celebrate the anniversary, the London group met at the Imperial War Museum, on Remembrance Day, to draw and talk. (The fifth anniversary of the London USk group slipped by earlier this year.)

Moved as I was by the museum's collection, I drew outside: firstly (top image) in the Tibetan Peace Garden in the museum's grounds, opened by the Dalai Lama in 1999, and then the grippingly brutalist Lambeth Towers nearby (below).

Thanks to Isabel Carmona and John Swanson for organising the day at the museum, and to Jo Dungey and Lis Watkins in particular for getting the 2018 events planned.

I can recommend following the #uskglobal24hrsketchwalk thread on Instagram to see how far and wide USk has spread. It's quite a moving journey.


Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Let’s draw London in 2018

Draw London with us in 2018. This programme of events is provisional - each month details will be posted on this blog about the next month’s event. This will give information about the location, including where and when to meet. These events are free of charge and there is no need to book. Just turn up and bring your own drawing kit. The Urban Sketchers London sketchcrawl programme is co-ordinated by Jo Dungey and Lis Watkins.

Saturday 20 January 2018
Organisers: Jo Dungey and Cathryn Worrell

In January we meet to draw at the Wellcome Collection on Euston Road. The Wellcome Collection offers permanent and temporary exhibitions. Imaginative exhibits present ideas about science and medicine, and there is an extraordinary collection of objects related to the history of medicine of different cultures.

Saturday 24 February 2018
Organisers: Lis Watkins and Homephoenix Wong

This month we tackle the modern retail offer at the Westfield Shopping Centre in Shepherd’s Bush. There will be scope to draw the building and shops, and plenty of opportunities for people sketching. There are also contrasting buildings in the surrounding area, some of which can be drawn from inside.

Saturday 10 March 2018
Organisers: Olga Mackness and Cathryn Worrell

In March we spend a day drawing based around Leadenhall Market in the City of London. The area offers contrasts between the Victorian market building and the modern financial district including the Lloyds building. It is also near historic churches and the garden of St Dunstan-in-the-East.

Saturday 28 April 2018
Organisers: Elizabeth Blunt and Philip Stones

This month we explore Walthamstow. Originally a medieval village, parts of this still survive, including the thirteenth century parish church and churchyard, almshouses, and a local history museum. There is a dramatic art déco town hall and William Morris' house, now a museum, with a lively park behind it. Walthamstow has the longest outdoor street market in Europe, and the covered Wood Street Market, described as a 'hidden gem'.

SUNDAY 20 May 2018
Organisers: Martin Stone and Steven Baker

In May we are in east London at Three Mills Island. This is a unique site to draw London’s industrial past. Clock Mill and Town Mill (1776) were formerly tidal mills on the River Lea. Abbey Mills Pumping Station is more ornate, designed in 1865 by Joseph Bazalgette. Also close by are the Bow Locks between the River Lea and the River Lee (sic) Navigation canal, with striking waterway and industrial views. There are canalside walks and panoramic views towards the Olympic Park and the current redevelopment of this part of east London.

Saturday 16 June 2018
Organisers: Helen Hayhoe and John Webb

This month we are by the river at Twickenham. Twickenham's riverside offers an eclectic miscellany for sketchers. This includes boats, Eel Pie Island, the York House Italian Sculptures, quirky old side streets, waterside pubs, and nearby Marble Hill House and the recently restored Turner's country home.

Saturday 28 July 2018
Organisers: Jo Dungey and Homephoenix Wong

We meet to draw at St Katharine Docks, a marina just to the east of Tower Bridge. This day offers the boats and buildings of the marina, and river views towards the City and Tower Bridge, across the river to the former warehouses of Shad Thames, or east towards Canary Wharf.

Saturday 18 August 2018
Organisers: Nicky Browne and Jo Dungey

In August we visit Chiswick House, a Palladian villa set in beautiful grounds. The house was designed by Lord Burlington with the aid of William Kent. Kent also designed the gardens, one of the earliest examples of the English landscape garden, which offer classical vistas, ponds, fountains and an eighteenth-century wilderness.

Saturday 22 September 2018
Organisers: Nicky Browne and Olga Mackness

In September we draw at Holland Park and the Design Museum, off Kensington High Street. Holland Park offers gardens in different styles including a Japanese garden, more formal gardens, wilder areas, and wandering peacocks. The park has a range of interesting buildings. The Design Museum is located in the former Commonwealth Institute, an innovative building redeveloped by OMA and John Pawson.

Saturday 6 October 2018
Organisers: Lis Watkins and Evelyn Rowland

This month we are in central London to draw Soho. Soho has long been an important centre for artists and writers, for media and theatre. Draw this rapidly changing area, including Theatreland and Chinatown.

Saturday 17 November 2018
Organisers: John Swanson and Olga Mackness

In November, we are at the National Army Museum, Chelsea. This recently redeveloped museum has historic collections including uniforms, military equipment and vehicles. It is next to the Chelsea Hospital, designed by Sir Christopher Wren as the home for the Chelsea Pensioners. Although the Chelsea Hospital building is not open at the weekend, it can be seen and drawn from the lawns of the Chelsea Embankment next to the river.

Saturday 15 December 2018
Organisers: Jo Dungey and Isabel Carmona

We visit Bloomsbury and the British Museum this month. As well as drawing the treasures of the British Museum, and its building, there could be an option to discover smaller museums in the area, the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology and the Grant Museum of Zoology. There will be an opportunity to explore the historic squares and streets of Bloomsbury.


Sunday, 5 November 2017

Let’s draw the Kensington Museums – Saturday 9 December 2017

Compilation of sketches from the V&A by Jo Dungey
For the last sketchcrawl of 2017, we will be drawing in South Kensington, home to the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum.

The 'Exhibition Road Quarter' entrance to the V&A
Timetable for the day
11 am - Meet at the entrance to the new Sackler Wing of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
1 pm - Meet at the same spot to look at sketchbooks.
3.30 pm – Meet back at the same spot to look at the day’s work and take a group photo.
If you would like to stay for a while and chat, we will then move to the nearby Courtyard Café in the Exhibition Road Quarter.

The Courtyard Cafe in the Exhibition Road Quarter
What to draw
Victoria and Albert Museum - Architecture, furniture, fashion, textiles, sculpture, jewellery, glass and ceramics.
The restaurant inside the main V&A building
Science Museum -  Rockets, cars, aircraft, machinery and computers.

Inside the Science Museum
Natural History Museum - Fossils, bones, animal specimens, architecture, outside ice rink.


The nearest tube station is South Kensington and there are a number of buses which stop nearby.  All the museums have cafés and toilet, and there are more places to eat in the area close to South Kensington tube. 


Wednesday, 18 October 2017

We Drew Spitalfields 14 October 2017

Photo: Si Newell
We started off next to the ‘I Goat’ sculpture on Brushfield Street, which was our meeting point throughout the day, and then we headed off in all directions to get started with our sketches.

Photo: Cathryn Worrell
There was a good mix of old and new buildings and although there were plenty of indoor and undercover options, most sketchers took advantage of the unseasonably warm and dry weather to sketch outside all day.

Photo: Cathryn Worrell

Photo: Cathryn Worrell

Photo: Cathryn Worrell

Photo: Cathryn Worrell

By lunchtime it seemed that lots more people had arrived, with probably at least 60 in total including visiting sketchers from places as far afield as Finland and the USA.

Photo: Cathryn Worrell

There was an almost overwhelming choice of things to sketch in Spitalfields and it was interesting to compare sketchbooks and see not only the different artistic styles within the group, but also the wide range of subjects we had all chosen.

Photo: Cathryn Worrell

Photo: Cathryn Worrell

Thank you to all the sketchers who came along and helped to make this such a fun day.

This day was organised by Cathryn Worrell and Daniel Lloyd-Morgan

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Who runs Urban Sketchers London?

Urban Sketchers London exists only because people who joined to sketch also volunteer to help to run it. We’d like to introduce who does what in Urban Sketchers London, and to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who helps to run the group.

Urban Sketchers London is a chapter of Urban Sketchers international. We uphold the Urban Sketchers International principles, one of which is that we do not charge people to participate in our sketching events. There are no fees, no subscriptions, no bank account. Everything we do is a gift to keep the group going.

We nominate three regional administrators who keep in touch with Urban Sketchers International. Currently these are Lis Watkins, Jo Dungey and Isabel Carmona. Here are the other roles and responsibilities in Urban Sketchers London:

Facebook administrators - Isabel Carmona, Jean Edwards, Nick Richards

Twitter administrators - Jean Edwards, James Hobbs

Flickr administrator - Christine Kaltoft, James Hobbs

Blog editor - Cynthia Barlow Marrs

Sketchcrawl co-ordinators - Jo Dungey, Lis Watkins

Sketchcrawl leaders in 2017 -  Isabel Carmona, Dionisa Joseph Mattam, Olga Mackness, Lis Watkins, Nick Richards, Jo Dungey, Elizabeth Blunt, Daniel Lloyd-Morgan, Evelyn Rowland, Nicky Browne, Gafung Wong, John Webb, Helen Hayhoe, Dougie Simpson, Cathryn Worrell, John Swanson and Philip Stones.

We are very grateful to everyone who helps — and we’re always on the lookout for more people who would like to be involved. Our events and our engagement in social media happen only because individuals who joined us in order to draw also give their time and effort to the running of the group.

Thank you!


Saturday, 30 September 2017

Teddington Weir

A pleasant morning today at Teddington Lock sketching the weir from the suspension bridge.  Teddington Lock is the point where The Thames ceases to be tidal.  Anything downstream being within The Port of London Authority.  Nearby is Tough's Boatyard.  One of the few remaining working boatyards on the tidal Thames and from where Operation Dynamo - the small ship flotilla to Dunkirk - was co-ordinated.  Opposite the weir were the studios of Thames Television, home of many iconic broadcasts. [John Webb]


Sunday, 24 September 2017

Let's Draw the Imperial War Museum and Lambeth - Saturday 11 November 2017

In November we are going to be drawing in and around the Imperial War Museum in Lambeth, London which is very appropriate as it is Remembrance Day.
Today is also a Worldwide Sketchcrawl Day.
We are going to meet slightly later than normal so that those who want to, can mark the remembrance silence, that is organised at the museum at 11 am.

The sketching group will meet at 11:15am under the portico, which is the North Entrance of the IWM (

After the initial meeting, we will meet at:
1pm - inside the museum on the 4th floor - the area they call roof terrace - which is actually under the glass barrel vault, fully undercover.
3:30pm - if good weather - outside - on the North Portico again. This is undercover but if it is weather is very bad we'll meet upstairs on the roof terrace again.
Please note there will be a Group Photo taken after the 3:30 meet to celebrate the 10 years of USK and this USK Worldwide Sketchcrawl
4pm - The Three Stags pub on corner of Kennington Road and Lambeth Road - drinks and further chatting.

This is a free event, just come along and bring your own drawing equipment.

We are free to draw anything in the museum (airplanes, cars, tanks,etc), the space itself, inside and out. Nearby, you have plenty of streetscapes with good views including 18th century terraces, brutalist architecture flats at the junction with Kennington road, St George's Catholic Cathedral (, Lambeth Church and a bit further away, Newport St Gallery (

There are plenty of eateries in the area around Lambeth North tube and also a cafe at the museum itself.
WCs at Museum
The nearest tube station is Lambeth North, also walking distance from Waterloo and Elephant and Castle
Local bus routes: 3, 12, 53, 59, 148, 159, 344, 360, 453 and C10.

We look forward to meeting you on the day!

Friday, 22 September 2017

We drew Highgate Cemetery 9 September 2017

The day started at Lauderdale House, where the excellent café did a roaring trade with the arrival of our band of Urban Sketchers. We all walked downhill through the lovely wooded Waterlow Park until we arrived at Highgate Cemetery East, where more sketchers were waiting for us -- in all, an excellent turnout of about 70 people.

This was my second visit to the cemetery.  I found it to be far more enjoyable than my first visit, when I was rather overwhelmed with the number of tombstones. 

Sangeeta Bhagawati
There were many subjects to chose from -- it was interesting how the sketchers spread themselves right round the cemetery.

Midday throw-down in the cemetery

After our first throw-down, some of us climbed the rather steep Swains Lane to Highgate village.

Mike Whalley
I can recommend lunch in The Angel, with Cathryn Worrell & Mike Whalley. Pond Square in the centre of Highgate (the pond is long gone!) was a good venue for sketching -- several of us positioned ourselves there.

Paul Gadenne
We returned to the Lauderdale House café for the final meet. Fortunately, the large veranda protected us from heavy passing showers.

Many thanks to all the sketchers who attended -- and thank you for sharing your wonderful sketches online.

Sarah Minty

Daniel Lloyd-Morgan
Katy Evans

By Dougie Simpson.
The day was organised by Dougie Simpson and Jo Dungey


Friday, 8 September 2017

Let’s Draw Spitalfields Market - Saturday 14 October 2017

Drawing by Cathryn Worrell

In October, we will meet to sketch in and around Spitalfields Market.

Spitalfields has a long history as a Roman cemetery, a priory, and later as a hub for the weaving and silk making trade. There's been a market on the site for over 350 years. In 1991 the wholesale fruit and vegetable market was redeveloped into shops, cafes and restaurants. Read more about what's on in the market here:

The day is free of charge and there’s no need to book, just turn up with your own art kit.
Goat sculpture, Bishops Square
Key times and meeting points for the day:

· 11am - Meet by the Goat Sculpture in Bishops Square/ Brushfield Street

· 1pm - meet again in the same place

· 3:30pm - meet again in the same place

(If there's heavy rain we'll meet just inside the entrance to the market on Bishops Square next to Patisserie Valerie.)

· Afterwards at about 4pm we'll go to Patisserie Valerie for anyone who wants a coffee and a chat or to continue drawing.

Drawing possibilities include:
The market building
· The market building (inside and out).
Christ Church
· Christ Church on Commercial Street, designed by the architect, Nicholas Hawksmoor.

· Brick Lane – around the corner from the church.

· Weavers houses in Norton Folgate (north of the market behind Carluccio's) and in and around Fournier Street (next to the Church).

· Elder Gardens on the north side of the market – a small gated garden with benches, which offers some respite from the busy market.

· This is a very busy area at weekends so there'll also be plenty of opportunities to sketch (lots of) people.

If it's raining, indoor sketching options include inside the market and sketching from inside one of the nearby cafes. There’s also a parade of shops on Bishopsgate that is under cover. Unfortunately, the church is closed on Saturdays but the cafe next door should be open.

Practical Information:

Lunch: There are lots of cafes, restaurants and food trucks in and around the market, as well as a big selection of curry houses on nearby Brick Lane.

Toilets: There are some public toilets near the eastern entrance to the market, inside Liverpool Street Station (you’ll need 30p in coins to enter) and lots of nearby cafes have toilets but you might need to be a customer to use them so please check.

Getting here: The nearest station is Liverpool Street, for mainline trains and underground, or Shoreditch High Street for overground. Lots of buses stop on Bishopsgate, including 42, 149, 242, 344 and 388. The 67 bus stops on Commercial Street. You can find more information about how to get to the market and a map here:

The day is organised by Cathryn Worrell and Daniel Lloyd-Morgan.


Wednesday, 23 August 2017

We drew Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens 19 August 2017

[By Nicky Browne in London] Hyde Park had a nip of autumn in the air, but the welcome from the Urban Sketchers was friendly and warming -- and it might have been a record attendance! (Anyone want to count heads?)

Every year the Serpentine Gallery commissions a leading architect to design a new temporary summer pavilion. This year's structure was designed by Francis Kéré, the award-winning architect from Burkina Faso. They've even tucked a coffee bar inside -- what better way to start the day?

There was a wealth of material to hand. We met at the Serpentine Gallery next to the summer pavilion designed by Francis Kéré. Then off to work!

 The Italian Gardens' fountains played against the backdrop of golden grass and dark, late summer trees. The Serpentine Lake bridge, the Serpentine Sackler Gallery designed by Zaha Hadid and the Serpentine Gallery itself appeared in many drawings and paintings.

Several people challenged themselves successfully with the Royal Albert Hall and the famous Albert Memorial. Someone even stood at the traffic lights and drew the Royal Geographical Society (the view was regularly blocked by buses waiting at the lights!). 

There were several renderings of the aptly named equestrian statue Physical Energy by the Victorian painter and sculptor George Fredric Watts. (The original plaster model is located at the very drawable Watts Gallery in the Surrey village of Compton, near Guildford).

There were also sketches of the contemporary bronze sculpture Serenity by Simon Gudgeon, and one or two drawings of The Arch by Henry Moore, a stone sculpture the artist gave to the nation in 1980.

Chickens as wildlife!
Then there was interesting wild life: swans, geese, ducks and people. Someone sat too near a Great Tit's nest and was attacked several times --  and there were some lovely paintings of some rather splendid chickens! 

The day was organised by Jo Dungey with Nicky Browne


Saturday, 19 August 2017

The Pavilion, but not in a cricket sort of way.

The August Sketchcrawl with Jo and Nicky was in a brilliant location. I stayed close to base, found a fence to lean against, and spent the time before lunch studying Francis Kéré's addition to Kensington Gardens.