Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Jack's London

Blind beggar pub & Whitechapel Bell Foundry ©Sue Pownall
I was really disappointed in January when I couldn't join the London Urban Sketchers due to snow. Luckily, 2 days after leaving Barcelona I got another opportunity as Pete Scully had arranged a sketchcrawl around Jack the Ripper's London. I caught a train up after visiting mum in hospital on a surprisingly hot summer's day .
An East London pub. ©Sue Pownall
  We met at Whitechapel tube and it was lovely to see Pete and Alissa again, having just seen them in Barcelona. Pete supplied us all with route maps and mini-sketchbooks he'd made and then we divided to capture the Ripper's World. I went with Alissa, Lola, and Simon to The Blind Beggar pub. The pub is infamous for its connection to the Krays and may have been used by the Ripper. Unfortunately, due to the heat (a miracle for a summer in London) it was too hot standing on the pavement, so moved on to the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. Chasing shade, I was attracted to the hoist at the side of the building. A lovely foundry worker offered me a chair then told me that the hoist was the only one in the country where the operator couldn't see the hook. Apparently, he had to rely on someone to lean out of a window and shout directions back at him. It was last used in the 1980s when a delivery of bells were brought from an old church. This lovely man told fascinating stories and I stayed talking so long I lost the others.
Linking the past ©Sue Pownall

Wandering around I loved the mix of old and new buildings in this area and next drew an old bell (foundry influence?) I saw on the renovated warehouses in Devonshire Square. I wasn't too pleased with my drawing so wandered on. I love this area of London and used to walk around it after work sometimes, usually when trains were delayed or cancelled out of Liverpool Street. (I worked in London as a graphic designer). I found the pub in a building that was from the Ripper's era and some estate agents were kind enough to let me sit on their doorstep to draw. For all my sketchcrawl pictures, I continued to experiment with non-waterproof ink, and I am especially pleased with it on this one as it suggests the grime of old London.
A gruesome end? ©Sue Pownall
Needing to find the others, I headed to the finishing point at Christchurch in Spitalfields. The group had increased since our 3pm start, so after having a look at some sketchbooks and chatting a little, I drew some of the gravestones. I linked the bell rope and the edge of the stone in order to get continuity of the area, but I'm not sure it was very successful. Then, I filled the mini-sketchbook with portraits, reverting to my normal Staedtlar pens, before a final sketch of the Ten Bells pub. The pub is one of the key haunts and "Ripper literature shows that two victims visited the Ten Bells before they were murdered" (Source: www.casebook.org/victorian_london/tenbells) With this drawing I used James Richards' technique for drawing people, which I learnt on his Barcelona workshop.
2 portraits in my mini-Ripper sketchbook.
 If you want to see other work from this great day, James Hobbs posted here , and Pete Scully here.