Archive for ‘London parks and gardens’

June 14, 2015

sketchbook Sunday: landscape edition

sketchbook Sunday

I never used to keep a sketchbook. I kept notebooks, which occasionally had sketches in them, but I was really too self-conscious and too self-critical to draw very much, let alone in public.

This year I’ve been getting over that. I’m still a bit self-conscious, but nobody’s tried to peer over my shoulder while I was working, so I’ve been learning not to be. And I’m still quite self-critical, but not so much in a way that stops me trying anymore, usually because I can see how to improve what I’ve done. My drawing class (which I wrote about here) has helped with this, but I think I would have got there on my own, anyway, because I don’t always agree with my art teacher. He’s always trying to get me to draw straighter lines, but I’ve realised that I like my wonky lines, they’re a part of what makes a drawing look like my work, and not an imitation of someone else. (I sometimes find that the way my teacher wants us to approach a drawing is completely counter-intuitive to the way I would do it on my own, and I have to flip his explanation around until I can get it from my own perspective. Even if we were drawing the same subject we’d start at different places on the page, and it’s not that I think he’s wrong and I’m right, it’s just that we have our own approaches to things; and that’s OK.)

I realised after doing a couple of these landscape sketches that I’d like my next sketchbook to be a little bit wider, because I have a tendency to scrunch my lines down to fit the page, and it messes up the proportions. It’s been interesting to compare the sketches with the landscape in these photos; I hadn’t looked at them all together and they really illustrate where my eye is drawn to — some parts are bigger in my drawings than they are in the skyline, because that’s what I focussed on. I’m sure there’s a scientific study in that, somewhere.

Anyway, here are some observational landscapes I’ve done in my sketchbook this year.

{sketchbook Sunday} a roof in the Dutch Garden, Holland Park
In the Dutch Garden in Holland Park. You can read earlier posts on Holland Park here.

{sketchbook Sunday} view across the playing field in Holland Park
The view across the playing field in Holland Park, towards what used to be the Commonwealth Institute but is currently being renovated to rehouse the Design Museum. My proportions were way off, but that building next to it was surprisingly complicated to draw, it’s full of angles that go in and stick out in odd places.

{sketchbook Sunday} Parliament Hill bandstand, Hampstead Heath
Parliament Hill bandstand on Hampstead Heath, with Euston Tower and the BT Tower on the skyline. Still getting the proportions wrong, because I was focussing on the detail… Three chocolate labradors with different owners came by as I was sketching, hence the punny note.

{sketchbook Sunday} Kensal Green cemetery
View from in front of the chapel at Kensal Green Cemetery. I blogged about my visit here.

{sketchbook Sunday} the Hill Garden, Hampstead Heath
At the Hill Garden — I blogged about this visit here. It got too windy and chilly to finish this sketch off at the time. At least what I did manage to draw was to scale, wonky balustrade columns notwithstanding.

{sketchbook Sunday} Primrose Hill
Sat in the sun on my favourite bench on Primrose Hill, before heading off to see the roses in Regent’s Park. There’s the BT Tower again; it’s fun to draw. I drew the London Eye too big, though, you can barely see it in the photo. See what I mean about focus?

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Do you keep a sketchbook? I’m thinking of making this an (irregular) feature on my blog and I’d love to include the work of others as well!

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June 13, 2015

roses in Regent’s Park

roses in Regent's Park

On a sunny afternoon in June, what better way to spend your time than strolling around a rose garden, then settling down on a bench with a book?

roses in Queen Mary's Gardens, Regent's Park

roses in Queen Mary's Gardens, Regent's Park

roses in Queen Mary's Gardens, Regent's Park

roses in Queen Mary's Gardens, Regent's Park

roses in Queen Mary's Gardens, Regent's Park

roses in Queen Mary's Gardens, Regent's Park

roses in Queen Mary's Gardens, Regent's Park

My reading was slightly disrupted by some over-amorous pigeons in the euphorbia, but they were quite entertaining.

pigeons in Queen Mary's Gardens, Regent's Park

pigeons in Queen Mary's Gardens, Regent's Park

Although Queen Mary’s Gardens is famous for its huge rose beds, there are plenty of other pretty plants to enjoy as well.

flowers in Queen Mary's Gardens, Regent's Park

plants in Queen Mary's Gardens, Regent's Park

plants in Queen Mary's Gardens, Regent's Park

flowers in Queen Mary's Gardens, Regent's Park

flowers in Queen Mary's Gardens, Regent's Park

The gardens can sometimes get a bit too crowded with people, but they’re not too bad on a weekday afternoon during term-time, and I was delighted to discover the flowerbeds were crowded with lots of bees, instead.

bees in Queen Mary's Gardens, Regent's Park

bees in Queen Mary's Gardens, Regent's Park

bees in Queen Mary's Gardens, Regent's Park

You can’t beat a sunny June day in a pretty flower-filled park, can you?

[photos taken with the Hipstamatic app, using the Buckhorst H1 lens, Blanko film and Jolly Rainbo flash]

June 12, 2015

return to the Hill Garden

return to the Hill Garden

I took these photos a month ago, on a sunny but breezy afternoon when I walked up to the top of Hampstead to see the wisteria at the Hill Garden.

wisteria at the Hill Garden

It was fairly empty when I arrived, but I soon noticed there was a crowd of what seemed to be art students wandering around with rolls of chicken wire and tape, and opted to steer myself away from them so that I could enjoy the romance of the place the way I like it best: in solitude.

the pergola at the Hill Garden

the pergola at the Hill Garden

at the Hill Garden

the pergola at the Hill Garden

at the Hill Garden

the pergola at the Hill Garden

at the Hill Garden

wisteria at the Hill Garden

at the Hill Garden

at the Hill Garden

at the Hill Garden

under the pergola at the Hill Garden

[photos taken with the Hipstamatic app, using the Susie Lens, Ina’s 1935 film and Jolly Rainbo flash]

There are earlier posts about the Hill Garden here and here.

June 4, 2015

Obscura Day in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park

Obscura Day in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park

I’ve mentioned my love of graveyards several times on this blog, so you can imagine my interest when I learned about a guided tour of the one Magnificent Seven cemetery I hadn’t been to yet. The tour was part of this year’s Obscura Day, an annual event organised by Atlas Obscura to encourage people to celebrate and explore the world’s interesting places.

Welcome to Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park

Like the other Magnificent Seven cemeteries, Tower Hamlets Cemetery was originally created to alleviate overcrowding in London’s smaller cemeteries, but unlike the others, it no longer has any of the original cemetery buildings (it was bombed several times during WW2), and much of the site has been transformed into woodland.

A glorious sight currently greets you as you come in via the main gate, with masses of pretty pink flowers dotted around the graves. I was rather charmed by the frame-style gravestones that provide windows through which to see the rest of the cemetery beyond.

a mass of pink flowers in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park

peace and pink flowers on a pretty grave in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park

Fred's Savill's horse grave in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park

As well as pointing out some of the interesting people buried in the cemetery, our guide also told us about some of the edible or otherwise useful plants that grow there — more than I’d have realised or recognised on my own (I need to up my foraging game!).

wildflowers in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park

gravestones amongst greenery in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park

wonky gravestones in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park

headless in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park

pint size penny graves in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park

Walking down the paths lined by lovely trees full of birdsong it was easy to forget we were in the middle of Zone 2, just around the corner from all the traffic on Mile End Road, surrounded by housing estates. Many of the graves are half-hidden by encroaching plantlife, but the site is well-managed to ensure the graves are not completely engulfed, although in some cases, nature sometimes seems to be winning.

pathway in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park

half-submerged gravestone in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park

gravestones amongst greenery in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park

cleavers on a gravestone in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park

tree eats gravestone in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park

[photos taken with the Hipstamatic app using the Bettie XL lens, Kodot XGrizzled film and Jolly Rainbo flash]

You can read other posts about the Magnificent Seven here, and there’s a post about an earlier Obscura Day event here.

May 22, 2015

the day the swifts came back

May’s been a funny old month. Colder than March, some days. Full of brisk winds and heavy storms that stripped the blossom off the trees in my street before I’d barely had time to stop and appreciate it. Nights of violent dreams and creeping nightmares, days of bad news and exhaustion. Too many moments of frustration and loneliness.

Yesterday afternoon there was a break in the clouds, so I went for a walk up Primrose Hill. I lay down in the grass and looked up at the sky, and I took these photos.

new shoes on Primrose Hill

cloudwatching

on Primrose Hill

on Primrose Hill

bug's eye view of Primrose Hill

And as I lay on the grass near the top of the hill, watching the clouds, I spotted the first swifts of the summer. They always arrive around the third or fourth week in May, so I’ve been looking out for them, but it was a lovely surprise to spot them anyway. They were way up high amongst the cirrus, tiny black specks flitting around, so high that you could blink and miss them.

I made my way up to the peak of the hill and craned my face upwards to get a better glimpse, only to realise that nobody else had noticed them, the heralds of summer. This was a moment for me, alone.

And I walked off down the hill with a smile on my face, towards a tree with new buds of pink blossom starting to bloom, a sign that the storms of May didn’t blow everything off the trees.

down Primrose Hill

blossom

May’s been a funny old month. Stormy weather and bad dreams took their toll on me. But it’s also been a month of mellow afternoons with good sounds spilling out of windows opened wide to warm sunshine. Days of creative encouragement and good food. Days to linger under lush green trees, listen to the bees and watch the birds in the sky.

Yesterday the swifts came back, and I almost didn’t see them.

sunshine

[photos taken with the Hipstamatic app, using the Adler 9009 lens and Blanko Freedom13 Film]

May 12, 2015

return to Kensal Green

A couple of weeks ago I went for a wander through Kensal Green, one of London’s Magnificent Seven cemeteries. I didn’t take many photos, but the atmosphere inspired me to take a few with the Hipstamatic app on my old phone. I used to love experimenting with the different combinations of lenses/films, but I haven’t really played around with it much of late. This particular combination has always been a favourite of mine because of the way it imparts a timeless dream-like quality that is perfectly suited for old stone structures in the sunshine.

Kensal Green Cemetery

Kensal Green Cemetery

Kensal Green Cemetery

Kensal Green Cemetery

Kensal Green Cemetery

Kensal Green Cemetery

[photos taken with Hipstamatic, using the BettieXL lens and Kodot XGrizzled film]

As the post-title suggests, this wasn’t my first visit to Kensal Green, you can read my previous posts here: Kensal Green Cemetery // Faces of Kensal Green.