Bermondsey Sketchbook Project

2020 marks the 30th anniversary of me moving to Bermondsey. Although I’ve spent about half the time since then living in and traveling through other places it’s always fascinating to return to Bermondsey, which has a special place in my heart. I love to explore the area on foot, savouring the relics of a rich cultural and industrial past that sit alongside ever evolving modern developments. Old factories, railway arches and warehouses are re-vamped and re-purposed and new buildings and independent businesses bring a fresh flavour to the neighbourhood.

That’s why I chose Bermondsey as the subject for my sketchbook project for The Brooklyn Art Library. I aim to take you on a stroll through its streets, pointing out some of my favourite buildings through sixteen painted snapshots, little love notes and some history bits which, if the fancy takes you, you can expand on by clicking the highlighted blue links.

November 2020 update!

A printed version of my artist book is now available to buy – all proceeds from sales will be donated to Southwark food bank. Click here to shop the book

The print run is limited to 50 copies which I have numbered and signed. Each book comes with a randomly selected postcard from the snapshots series. 

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Back to the sketchbook process…

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I ordered the sketchbook from the Brooklyn Art Library at the end of 2019, planning to paint the urban landscapes from photos as a spring project while staying with my parents who live outside London in the Essex countryside. Taking those reference photos made my walks more purposeful, my observation more focused and my routes more diverse.illustration, brooklyn art library, the sketchbook project, sketchbook, pen and wash, watercolour, watercolor, painting, drawing, urban landscape, urban sketching, corona virus lockdown 2020, bermondsey, london, se1, se16, woolpack pub, london pub, bermondsey street, window box, windows, sign writing, pub sign, work in progress

The looming Corona virus lockdown meant that I decamped from Bermondsey to Essex a couple of weeks earlier than I’d planned so there were some places I didn’t get around to photographing; the riverside for instance. Even so I had plenty of reference material and found it hard to choose which parts to leave out.

My sketchbook project is now a poignant homage to all those lovely artisans, independent businesses and traders who are shut down and all the residents who are shut inside during these strange, socially isolated and unsettling times. My perspective has shifted from ‘fear of missing out’ to a fervent hope for everyone’s survival in our new ‘Covid World’.

Bermondsey is a district in the borough of Southwark (created in 1965 and pronounced ‘Suthuck’) in south east London. Its name is derived from ‘Beornmund’s Ey’. Beornmund being the name of a person and ey being an Old English word meaning an island, a place by a river or stream, or a piece of firm land in an area of marshland. 

Bermondsey is bordered by the districts of Southwark to the west, St Katharine’s and Wapping to the North (on the other side of the River Thames – pronounced ‘Tems’), Rotherhithe to the East, Deptford to the southeast and Peckham and Walworth to the south.

In 2018 The Sunday Times newspaper calculated that Bermondsey was the best place to live in London; this year it came 4th – which is still pretty good!

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Here’s a map I collaged to help us orientate ourselves as we check out Bermondsey’s visual treats and singular history…

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Bermondsey Square

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So we’re starting our tour in Bermondsey Square looking north across Abbey Street at St Mary Magdeleine church. The first record of a church on this site comes from 1290, it was rebuilt in 1690, amazingly survived the heavy bombing during the Blitz of World War 2 and contains a remnant (approx 25 feet high) of the late medieval tower. The tombs of the Rolls family, of Rolls Royce fame, are in the church gardens.

Abbey Street is so called because there was an Abbey in Bermondsey Square with truly ancient origins. I’ve outlined its history with bullet points for clarity:

  • Pope Constantine (708-715) granted privileges to a monastery at Vermundesei which was then under the control of the Abbott of Peterborough
  • Some time between 830 and 842 the monastery was destroyed in Viking raids which were common in London and south east England at that time
  • 1082 the monastery (the residents were monks) was rebuilt and dedicated to Saint Saviour (another name for Jesus) by a city fat cat called Alwinus Child
  • 1086 the Doomsday Book (a national survey ordered by King William the Conquerer) lists a ‘new and handsome’ church amongst the assets of Bermundesy, also referred to as Bermundesye
  • 1089 the monastery became a priory (led by a prior) attached to the French Abbey at Cluny, part of the Benedictine order
  • 1380 the first English prior paid to have the priory naturalised so that it wouldn’t be attacked as ‘foreign’ property if there was a war with France
  • 1390 independent status was achieved and the building became known as Bermondsey Abbey (it was led by an abbott, a rank higher than a prior)
  • It quickly acquired a lot of land and property, becoming hugely rich and powerful and an important spiritual centre to rival Westminster Abbey. In 1535 its income was equivalent to about £17 million in today’s money
  • 1537 the abbey was dissolved by King Henry 8th as part of his bust up with the Catholic Church, he gave it to his courtier Sir Thomas Pope who broke up the buildings and built himself a mansion

There’s a fascinating video here describing the excavation, recording and preservation  of Bermondsey Abbey’s ruins (and the human remains buried there) before the regeneration of Bermondsey Square which started in 2006.

In the painting above you can also see the Bermondsey Square Hotel (left) and the Kino Cinema (right), which opened in 2008; both delightful results of that multi-million pound regeneration project. The pointy Shard is just visible in the background. The Shard is not in Bermondsey but it’s so tall that it’s clearly and widely visible from street level and it serves as a useful reference point.

The heavy bombing during World War 2 drove many businesses and residents out of Bermondsey for good and Bermondsey Square was pretty much derelict. In 1947 the large antique market at Caledonian Road in north London was moved to Bermondsey Square. Until 1995 a medieval law made it possible to sell (or fence) stolen antiques and artworks between dusk and  dawn at ‘open markets’ like Bermondsey without being arrested which led to its scandalous reputation for dodgy dealings for a few years. The antique market continued to be held every Friday morning from 1947 through the regeneration project of 2006-8 until the Corona virus lockdown which started in March 2020.

Sherman & Waterman share a complete history of Bermondsey Antiques Market on their website.

Bermondsey Street

Now we’re going to cross Abbey Street and turn right up Bermondsey Street.

It’s a road which is at least one thousand years old and contains, all within about a mile: multi-million pound warehouse conversions; social housing; two 200-year-old alehouses both of which still serve ale; a whole host of restaurants offering food from around the world; a couple of thoroughly modern museums; tiny galleries; a traditional ‘greasy spoon caff’; independent artisans and traders selling arts and crafts, fresh fruit, veg and baked goods; a vintage/designer clothing boutique whose profits go to charity, to name but a few. It’s an authentically buzzy, busy road is Bermondsey Street. That’s why I love it. It’s ambience has changed quite a bit though…

In 2014 ‘The Gentle Author’ wrote this charming and evocative description of Bermondsey Street on their Spitalfields Life website:

“There is an engaging drama to Bermondsey St with its narrow frontages of shops and tall old warehouses crowded upon either side, punctuated by overhanging yards and blind alleys. A quarter of a century ago, everything appeared closed down, apart from The Stage newspaper with its gaudy playbill sign, a couple of attractively gloomy pubs and some secondhand furniture warehouses.”

But even back then I liked it.

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Cassically French in design and cuisine, cosy Casse Croûte sits about half way up Bermondsey Street on the corner with Tanner Street. I went there with a childhood friend and ate delicious halibut risotto on a cold, rainy night in early March (as news of the effects of the Corona Virus pandemic in Italy was emerging). It’s a tiny, friendly place and features in the Michelin Guide. I was beguiled for some time before my visit by the view through the window of the black and white tiled floor in combination with the red gingham table cloths and the rustic French deco, so it was lovely to find out first hand that the food and service are exceptional too.

Now for some less savoury information: Tanner Street is named for the leather trade which was in full swing in 18th century Bermondsey. It caused a vile stench; they used dog poo (collected from the streets and pedigree dog breeders) mixed with urine to soften the skins and relied on the high tide to wash out the filthy tanning pits twice a day. If you squint hard at this map from 1787 you can see the Tan Yards laid out next to Long Lane near Bermondesy Square. 

And in this photo from 1962 you can see The Grange Tannery site, which covered two and a half acres between Grange Walk (formerly called Horney Lane) and Spa Road and became famous for making the red leather despatch boxes used by the UK Government. The tanneries in the Grange were bombed to bits in the World War 2 Blitz and were replaced by residential and office blocks.

There’s a pub called Simon the Tanner on Long Lane to this day. Also pertaining to the skin works are: The Woolpack pub, Leathermarket Street, (renamed from Market Street just before the tanning trade died out) and The Alaska Factory (all coming up below).  The beautiful London Leather, Hide and Wool Exchange building is sadly not included in my drawings.

We’ve crossed Bermondsey Street now and we’re taking a tiny detour onto Morocco Street (formerly called Upper Russell Street – pictured here in 1828) to take a look at a couple of very unusual buildings; each stunning in a very different way.

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The Morocco Store is an old warehouse converted into a private residence. I love the curved brick part which sits right on the tight corner between Morocco and Leathermarket Streets; it looms up like a big old chimney. The Morocco Store sign, painted directly onto the bricks, is a work of art in itself although I now read that it was painted by the owner to suggest a ‘fictional and whimsical’ past and raise the value of the building – it had me fooled!

In this photo from 1969 the sign is much less poetic, reading ‘Turner Whitehead Industries Ltd Polythene’.

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I’m a sucker for an exterior glazed brick – oh my, and white ones…the loveliest of them all. The carved horses’ heads on the front of this car repair shop reveal that it used to be a coach house with a blacksmith’s forge out the back where horses could get their shoes changed. RW Auto’s is still working hard to keep people on the road but now on four wheels instead of four legs. And there’s the Shard again, peeping over the wall.

Pete Wheeler, replying to The Gentle Author’s In Old Bermondsey post on the Spitalfields Life website in December 7, 2018 says

“Just found this article about Bermondsey. I can recall right back to when I was living in Kinross Street which is now part of the park where Tanner Street meets Bermondsey Street.  And yes, I can remember the Farrier on the corner of Morroco Street. I used to watch fascinated as the big shire horses were being shod. Probably horses that belonged to Tommy Hatcher as that was the local haulier. I particularly remember the smell when the hot shoes were put on the hoof. My brother and I would chase after Tommy Hatcher’s carts and hang off the back. The time was 1946/47.”

Here are some links to old photos of the building, with one horse’s head missing in 1976 and 1981 but the other doing well in 1969.

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OK, we’ve turned around and we’re back on Bermondsey Street. You have my word that I did not exaggerate the colours of any of these buildings, they really are that bright and beautiful.

We can see two converted warehouses to the right, the yellow brick one with the mauve paint is a multi-million pound private residence and the white one is the headquarters of Bermondsey Street Bees.

Bermondsey Street Bees is a sustainable bee keeping practice founded in 2007 by a bee keeper and a honey sommelier. They’re dedicated to the promotion of the care and survival of bees along with the production of award winning raw honey. 

The red brick building with glazed green brick around the ground floor has been home to the Garrison Public House restaurant since 2003. There’s been a pub on this spot for about 200 years; in 1822 The Yorkshire Grey was recorded in the Licensed Victualler Recognizances meaning that the owner had pledged a bond (promised money) in court to guarantee that the alehouse wouldn’t be a nuisance to the neighbours. It was definitely a nuisance at some point – there’s a bullet hole in that plate glass window. I kid you not. In 1998 The Yorkshire Grey became the The Honest Cabbage restaurant where I worked on and off for a couple of years with a fun team including one of my best friends, who lived in Whites Grounds just, around the corner.

The two buildings on the other side of Whites Grounds are council flats; social housing run by the local authority, Southwark Council, for local families on lower incomes.

The orange and pink building was designed by Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta and houses the Fashion and Textile Museum (FTM) which was founded in 2003 by the flamboyant, pink haired clothes designer Dame Zandra Rhodes to showcase contemporary fashion and textile design. It’s now run by Newham College.

Now, if we stay on this side of the road and walk a few steps past that postbox we’ll get to…

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The Woolpack pub, where I used to hang out and play pool (in the upstairs room behind that elegant window) at the end of the 90s when I worked at the ‘Cabbage’ over the road.

According to insurance records there was a pub on this site from 1790 called The Cock and Magpie (also referred to as The Cock and Magpye and The Cock and Pye). In 1837 its name changed to The Woolpack.

The building numbers on Bermondsey have changed a fair few times in the past so before 1851 The Woolpack was number 205, now it’s number 98.

The sun was shining brilliantly the day I took this photo; I was struck by the blue painted front against the blue sky and how the flowers in the window box shone like jewels against the darkness of the window. I also liked the view of the hanging wool pack from this perspective, the lovely lines of the windows and the beautiful letters which spell out the name.

Do you love bakeries? Oh, me too! And I could stand and gawp at the pastries, tarts, mini quiches and macaroons in the Comptoir Gourmand window for more time than is socially acceptable if I were less self conscious. Patisserie window shopping…one of my favourite pass-times. I also love to paint food…then eat it.

These delights are actually made in the Comptoir Gourmand bakery on Rope Walk, I’ll point that out to you later as we pass close by…

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A little aside about Mary’s Living and Giving Shop, which I haven’t sketched but is worth a mention. In 2009 retail expert Mary Portas, ‘Queen of Shops’, worked with the Save the Children charity to set up Mary’s Living and Giving shops. The creme de la creme of donated items, including designer wear and high quality, new or hardly worn items are diverted to specially designed boutiques where their resale can earn the most money for the charity.

While I volunteered in the Bermondsey Street branch for a few happy months in 2018 I did some window painting, chalkboard writing and a series of ‘pre-loved fashion’ illustrations.

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I love this tiny shop so much. It’s always a visual treat as much as a tasty treat to go to the Giddy Grocer and if ever I’m going to eat with or stay with friends I’ll do my best to get some edible offerings from here. The Giddy Grocers are so committed to supplying their neighbours with local goods and fresh produce that they’ve kept the shop open throughout lockdown, adapting the way they sell to ensure that everyone stays safe. I’d love to sketch inside the shop one day…The B Street Deli, a lovely eating place a few doors down Bermondsey Street is also under the Giddy umbrella.

The ‘rude kids’ stencil art on the wall in the background was painted by Dotmaster in 2015.

Now we’re going to walk to the northern end of Bermondsey Street, take a right, meander under the railway arches and head to the river to marvel at one of the most famous landmarks in the world…

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Tower Bridge! A fantastic combination of Victorian high camp and engineering genius – Tower Bridge spans the River Thames (pronounced ‘Tems’) like a big fancy cake. It’s often wrongly referred to as London Bridge which is hardly surprising since Tower Bridge is an iconic symbol of London and London Bridge is really quite plain.

Tower Bridge was commissioned by the City of London Corporation because they wanted a river crossing to the east of London Bridge capable of letting tall ships through. In 1876 they opened a design competition to see who could come up with the best solution and eight years later Horace Jones and John Wolfe Barry cracked it with their combined suspension and bascule confection. The bridge took another eight years to build.

The bascule, which is French for see-saw, is the bit in the centre. The two road level sections can each be pulled up on a pivot at one end to create a gap between the two towers that allows ships taller than eight and a half metres to pass up and down. Ships must book the bridge raise (which is free of charge) 24 hours in advance and it only takes a minute and fifteen seconds for the bascules to lift completely.

The suspension parts join the two towers to the riverbanks.

The number 78 bus crosses Tower Bridge and passes through Bermondsey – one of the buses in the painting might well be a 78. On 30th December 1952 the watchman forgot to ring a warning bell and close the gates across the road before the bridge was lifted and bus driver Albert Gunter found himself, his number 78 bus with 20 passengers onboard rising with the southern bascule…yikes! Quick thinking Albert  accelerated and managed to jump the gap to the northern bascule which hadn’t yet started to rise. He broke his leg, but the bus and all the passengers on it were unharmed. What a hero! He was given a £10 reward which amounts to about £300 in today’s money. 

By far my favourite way to cross Tower Bridge is on foot – pedestrians can walk across at road level and admire the tremendous views at their leisure. There’s also a walkway in that high horizontal part that connects the two towers but you have to pay to get up there. The entrance fee also includes a visit to the old engine rooms which sit at the base of each tower.  

Tower Bridge marks the border of Bermondsey with the districts of Southwark to the west and St Katharine’s and Wapping to the north.

 In the painting you can just see the Tower of London behind the bus on the bascule. 

We’re going to wander east now, along the southern bank of the river, past huge Butler’s Wharf (seen here from Tower Bridge in 2016) which in the late 19th and early 20th centuries would have been teaming with cargo handlers who can be seen queuing for casual work in this photo taken in 1915. 

By the early 1970s the wharves were closed down – they were no longer profitable because goods were transported on huge container ships and dock work was ‘decasualised’. They were left empty, became derelict and then artists moved in, making the area very interesting until the twenty year regeneration started in 1983. Butler’s Wharf now contains luxury homes, restaurants and shops.

Once we get to St Saviour’s wharf we’ll cut inland, cross Jamaica Road and head under the railway arch on Druid Street to…

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Maltby Street food market which ran on weekends before lockdown and is actually in Rope Walk.

A Ropewalk was historically a long, straight, narrow piece of land set back from a river where rope manufacturers could lay out and twist the constituent strands of the rope. They were inevitably disrupted by construction. This Rope Walk in Bermondsey was chopped up in 1836 by seven of the nineteen railway arches supporting the London to Greenwich railway line – the longest run of arches in Britain to this day. These arches are now home to bars (including Little Bird Gin and Vermouth 49 whose signs you can see in the painting), restaurants and a timber yard. Before Corona the regular and guest traders would set up street food stalls and if we didn’t get there early we’d be jostling with friendly flocks of weekend brunch and lunch seekers.

The upmarket reclamation yard Lassco is also housed in one of the railway arches. It’s an eclectic boutique of gorgeously designed and tastefully battered old treasures which have been lovingly removed from their previous homes. I love to visit with a fellow sketching friend for a couple of hours of drawing and eavesdropping, after enjoying a coffee and a breakfast pastry from the Comptoir Gourmand bakery a few arches down. You’ll remember, perhaps, that we salivated outside the Comptoir Gourmand window while we meandered up Bermondsey Street and that I promised to point out the source of those baked delights. The lovely Lassco folks always make us welcome, even though we’re taking up space and not buying anything.

I made the original version of the painting above on site in Rope Walk at the end of January 2020. Ooh, there was a bitter little wind that day but the welcome from Bar Tozino, whose outside table I sketched at, was warm. Here’s a link to my original  Rope Walk sketch blog.

The Rope Walk railway arches, accessed on the other side of the railway line from Druid Street, also mark the official start of the unofficial ‘Bermondsey Beer Mile’ which is an ever changing string of independent breweries – some produce cider – actually stretching more like two miles to the south east. We’re going to look at another section of railway arches now.

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Spa Road railway station opened in 1836 and was the first ever railway station in London. It sat on the line which ran from London Bridge to Greenwich and was so basic that they initially described it as a ‘stopping place’ rather than a station. When London Bridge station opened a few months afterwards fewer people used the Spa Road stop and by 1838 it had been boarded up. Here’s an engraving of the viaduct in 1836.

The station was reopened in 1842, underwent several upgrades, was relocated by a couple of hundred metres and then renamed before it was closed permanently in 1915.

During its heyday Spa Road station facilitated the huge influx of hard workers necessary to keep Bermondsey’s extensive industry going from the mid-19th century to the early 20th century. The closest rail link to this spot is Bermondsey Tube; five minutes walk away on Jamaica Road it opened in 1999 and links with the London Underground via the Jubilee Line.

Nowadays the railway arches supporting the track around Spa Road are inhabited by artisan food and drink producers under the Spa Terminus umbrella and Bermondsey has finally regained its ‘London’s Larder’ status. Saturday morning is the main trading time (some traders open more often even in these lockdown times) for the highest quality meat, cheese, bread, beer, wine, cider, honey, coffee and cakes as well as preserves and flowers. My favourite trader is Puntarelle & Co. who stock the most beautiful seasonal fruit and veg I’ve ever seen. In January I bought the gorgeous mushrooms that appear in the painting. They turned out to be delicious baked with oil, salt and pepper and served on toasted sourdough bread from The Little Bread Peddlar, which trades from another arch. You can see the original sketch I made of the mushrooms here.

My flat is in a quiet square just off Spa Road; when I moved in there was a grubby fish and chip shop, a tiny grocery store with no fresh produce and a dodgy pub. Gentrification gets a bad rap but there are definitely some interesting, life-enhancing and inspiring effects.

We’re now going to walk west along Spa Road; if we keep an eye out to the right we’ll see Neckinger which looks like an ordinary road, but in fact started out as a river. In the middle ages you could get from the River Thames to Bermondsey Abbey by taking a boat along River Neckinger and the Abbey made good use of its tidal flow to power a mill. After the Abbey was dissolved by Henry 8th in 1537 the mill ended up in private hands and about 200 years later the mill’s monopolisation of the tidal water was challenged by the leather tanners who were moving into the area. Creepily, Neckinger is thought to derive its name from ‘devil’s neck cloth’ – a slang term for the hangman’s noose – because in the 17th century convicted pirates were hanged at the wharf where River Neckinger meets the Thames – a place called Jacob’s Island. Starting in 1837 Charles Dickens published, in installments, his now world famous novel ‘Oliver Twist’. Dickens, appalled and inspired by the horrendous and notorious squalor of Jacob’s Island named a branch of River Neckinger ‘Folly Ditch’ and killed off the villainous Bill Sikes there. This is how he described Jacob’s Island:

“. . . crazy wooden galleries common to the backs of half a dozen houses, with holes from which to look upon the slime beneath; windows, broken and patched, with poles thrust out, on which to dry the linen that is never there; rooms so small, so filthy, so confined, that the air would seem to be too tainted even for the dirt and squalor which they shelter; wooden chambers thrusting themselves out above the mud and threatening to fall into it – as some have done; dirt-besmeared walls and decaying foundations, every repulsive lineament of poverty, every loathsome indication of filth, rot, and garbage: all these ornament the banks of Jacob’s Island.”

And in 1849 The Morning Chronicle described Jacob’s Island thus:

 “The very capital of cholera”    and

“The Venice of drains”.

In the 18th century a spring from the River Neckinger (which now runs underground) was discovered and the area between Grange Road and Jamaica Road was developed as Bermondsey Spa, hence the name Spa Road. 

Spa Gardens (originally called Spa Park) which features in the next painting, was part of that development. You can see an 18th century engraving of the design for the gardens here made by the artist Thomas Keyse.

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For me, this was one of the most beautiful and surprising neighbourhood transformations. This building, with its uplifting stripes and symmetry, housed the library between 1891 and 1989 and became a Buddhist Meditation centre in 1998. The centre contains a cafe, a book and gift shop and two delightfully tranquil shrine rooms which, before lockdown, were open for private contemplation, teaching and group meditation sessions.

There’s the Shard again in the background.

We’re going to Grange Road now, to have a look at a very elegant building…so we’ll bear left and take the short walk through Spa Gardens.

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The white art deco Alaska Factory was designed by Wallis, Gilbert and Partners and built in 1932. It’s amazing that it’s still standing – it survived an electrical fire in 1940 and escaped the World War 2 Blitz when a bomb dropped into the grounds failed to explode. 

The original factory was built in 1869 by F.A. Schroeter but only the stone gateway (depicting a seal) still stands. C.W.Martin & Sons Ltd bought the site in 1873 and owned it for about a hundred years. Gruesomely Martins specialised in fur, mostly seal fur, which came from the Antarctic, Canada and Alaska and was very fashionable in Victorian times. Martins also went on to make fur lined flying suits for the Royal Air Force. The firm left Bermondsey in the 1950s after which the building was heavily restored and converted to apartments. This photo taken in 1978 shows the red sign when it still said ‘Martins’. Having a full tour of the Alaska Factory interior is definitely on my wish-list.

While we’re on Grange Road (named ‘The Kings Road’ in this map form 1787) I’m going to write a note about Bermondsey’s Municipal Bath House. It was built here in 1927 as part of a drive towards better health for residents, led by the wonderful Alfred and Ada Salter who were also devoted to slum clearance and tree planting. People could swim, take a bath in private, use steam rooms and wash and dry their laundry. It also became a rather popular gay hangout; the genius comedian and actor Kenneth Williams went there in the 50s and found it “quite fabulous”. The huge and apparently sumptuous bath house was in operation until 1973 when structural defects led to it being demolished in 1975. What a shame they tore it down!

In 2014 the social commentator and street art stencil master Banksy reportedly painted a piece of street art on a wall in Grange Walk, visible from Grange Road. It disappeared in 2016, when it was suggested that the owner of the building had cut it out in order to sell it.

Now we’re going to double back to the corner of Grange Road and Spa Gardens to wait for the number 1 bus which will take us down ‘The Blue’. We could get there on foot in 15 minutes or catch the number 78 bus but who could resist a ride on the number 1?!

illustration, brooklyn art library, the sketchbook project, sketchbook, pen and wash, watercolour, watercolor, painting, drawing, urban landscape, urban sketching, corona virus lockdown 2020, bermondsey, london, se1, se16,, blue anchor, london pub, blue anchor lane, london taxi, black cab,blue bermondsey, independent trader, southwark

The Blue is loosely defined as the area within a five minute walking radius from the Southwark Park Road market place which has been present since the 11th century but was last overhauled in 1976.

I’ve chosen The Blue Anchor pub to represent The Blue because it’s the most attractive building down there. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy visiting the library and there’s superb fresh produce available to buy there but The Blue doesn’t offer the same visual treats as Bermondsey Street but a community led regeneration project called Made In Bermondsey is underway.

Bermondsey was a major target for the Nazi Luftwaffe during the Blitz of World War 2  because it was a hub of industrial activity. 400 civilians died and many homes and factories in the Borough of Southwark were destroyed by the 1651 bombs and 20 parachute mines that were dropped there during the 8 months following September 7, 1940. It’s verging on the miraculous that so many of Bermondsey’s older buildings survived at all and not surprising that people left in droves during and after the war. In 1901 there were 131,000 residents but that number had more than halfed to 61,000 by 1959.

Back to the pub in the painting above. According to insurance records there was a pub on this spot from 1789, and as we can see from the stone carving on the roof, The Blue Anchor was rebuilt in its present form in 1875. It sits on the corner of Blue Anchor Lane and Southwark Park Road and according to this map dated 1787 Southwark Park Road was then known as Blue Anchor Road, a name which has great religious significance – hardly surprising since the land was owned by Bermondsey Abbey for about five hundred years.

Blue (also, historically, ‘Blew’) is the colour considered to denote spiritual purity, faith, to represent heaven and to keep bad spirits away. In the middle ages (5th-15th century) Anchorites were devoutly religious people who withdrew from their communities to live in small stone cells called anchorholds which were usually attached to village churches. They spent their lives in solitary prayer and contemplation and some of them were even bricked into their cells; their basic needs being met via tiny windows. Huge numbers of pilgrims would have passed this way to visit Bermondsey Abbey and they would have sought solace from their arduous journey in the presence of the Blue Anchorholds.

This photo, taken in 1928 shows wood clad cottages in Blue Anchor Lane, which in 1812 had become the location of the world’s first food canning business, a process invented by DonkinHall and Gamble. Here’s a photo of one of their early tinned iron containers.

We’re popping around the corner now to find out why Bermondsey was once called ‘Biscuit Town’.

illustration,, brooklyn art library, the sketchbook project, sketchbook, pen and wash, watercolour, watercolor, painting, drawing, urban landscape, urban sketching, corona virus lockdown 2020, bermondsey, london, se16, south bermondsey, peek freans, biscuit factory, biscuits, bourbon, chocolate digestive, garibaldi

Mr Peek Senior was a big wig in the tea import business but his two sons weren’t interested in tea so he persuaded them to set up a complimentary business. And what goes better with tea than biscuits? (OK, cake is a contender, but for the sake of this piece we’re starting with biscuits). The Peek boys eventually dropped out of the biscuit business too so Mr Peek’s niece and her husband Mr Frean joined in – and thence was born Peek Frean & Co. Shortened to Peek Freans in the 1970s, it was a household name when I was a kid. I grew up on three of their most famous biscuits which I depicted in the painting above with the Drummond Road factory in the background. Left to right I offer you: the Bourbon – the prototype was released in 1910 under the name ‘Creola’; the first ever chocolate digestive, marketed as the ‘chocolate table’ in 1899; and the Garibaldi – invented in 1861 by Jonathan Carr of the famous Scottish biscuit family who was recruited to Peek Freans shortly beforehand. We used to call Garibaldis ‘dead fly biscuits’ because the squashed raisins showing through the biscuit crust bear more than a passing resemblance to swatted insects, but that didn’t put us off – they’re really tasty.

The business was first registered in 1857 when it moved into a ex-sugar refinery on Dockhead, also in Bermondsey, near the River Thames. It outgrew those premises (which burnt down in 1873) and moved to a 10 acre site between Drummond Road and Clements Road. For many years afterwards Bermondsey was known as Biscuit Town (to be clear: a UK biscuit is the equivalent of a US cookie) and smelt sweetly of baking butter, sugar and flour – a marked improvement from the tanning years.

This is an extract of one of the first documentary films ever made -it shows biscuit production at the Peek Freans factory in 1906. Some of the workers were just kids.

The film was made to publicise the company’s expansion into cake baking; they went on to gift wedding cakes to Queen Elizabeth 2 and provide one of the 27 (yes, really) wedding cakes for the ill fated nuptuals of Charles and Di.

In 1929 the Twiglet, the iconic savioury snack that looks like a knobbly twig and tastes of Marmite, was invented by the French biscuit baker Monsieur J. Rondalin. A great gift to the world.

The Biscuit Factory closed in 1989 and stood empty and derelict for many years. Following extensive renovation it’s now run as a business hub with offices, workshops and studios for rent.

As well as earning the nickname ‘Biscuit Town’ Bermondsey was also dubbed ‘London’s Larder’ because it hosted the factories of many household names: Crosse and Blackwell, Pearce & Duff, Shuttleworth’s chocolate, Sarson’s vinegar, Hartley’s jam and Courage beer.

We’ll hop on the number 1 bus again now, head southeast and get off near South Bermondsey railway station…

illustration,, brooklyn art library, the sketchbook project, sketchbook, pen and wash, watercolour, watercolor, painting, drawing, urban landscape, urban sketching, corona virus lockdown 2020, bermondsey, london, se16, architecture, microbrewery, small beer, sofar sounds, live music, concert, beer, brewery, south bermondsey

A short walk from South Bermondsey railway station we find the independent and progressive Small Beer Brew Company which is dedicated to the production of vegan beer. They’ve developed a method which uses much less water than standard brewing techniques to make their low alcohol range with a nod to the 17th century. This is how they describe it:

“In a world where drinking water could be fatal, small beer was enjoyed in households, workplaces and even schools across the country for its hydrating and nutritional properties. A staple of British daily life in the 1700’s, it was traditionally always brewed between 0.5 – 2.8% ABV.

With the provision of clean drinking water in the 19th century, the requirement for small beer passed and the art of its creation was lost.

At the Small Beer Brew Co. we specialise solely in the production of this historic beer style so rich in history!”

I went to the brewery in March for a live music gig, the last I saw before lockdown. It was organised by Sofar Sounds who put on intimate gigs in unusual places all over the world. When you buy Sofar Sounds tickets you don’t find out the exact address of the venue until 24 hours before the show and you don’t find out who’s going to perform until you get to the venue. Nice surprises!

I had a great time: the atmosphere was relaxed and friendly; the small crowd sat on low benches or rugs on the floor, snacking on food they’d brought with them and enjoying the excellent music and the small beer (I can’t review the beer as I’ve been alcohol free since January). The Bloom Twins kicked off with their ‘dark pop’, followed by Mae Monypenny‘s beautful and haunting looped vocals – she’s the one with the green hair in the painting – and lastly the exuberant soul band Zebede.

Process

 work in progress,illustration, brooklyn art library, the sketchbook project, sketchbook, pencil, sketch, drawing, urban landscape, urban sketching, corona virus lockdown 2020, bermondsey, london, se1, warehouse conversions,, bermondsey street, bermondsey bees, fashion and textile mus, facades, windows, warehouse

Ideally I would have done all the sketches on site in the street but working from my own photographs is a good substitute.

I always start with a pencil drawing so that I can get the proportions and perspective right.

 

work in progress, illustration, brooklyn art library, the sketchbook project, sketchbook, pen, crosshatching, drawing, urban landscape, urban sketching, corona virus lockdown 2020, bermondsey, london, se1, rw autos, architecture, car mechanic, horse head, blacksmith, bermondsey street

 

 

 

Then I ink in the drawing with water resistant pen.

 

paint box, illustration,, brooklyn art library, the sketchbook project, sketchbook, pen and wash, watercolour, watercolor, painting, drawing, urban landscape, urban sketching, corona virus lockdown 2020, bermondsey, london, se16, south bermondsey, peek freans, biscuit factory, biscuits, bourbon, chocolate digestive, garibaldi

 

 

 

 

Before adding layers of watercolour paint which works better on heavier paper which is why I didn’t paint the snapshots directly into the sketchbook.

 

brooklyn art library, the sketchbook project, sketchbook cover, corona virus lockdown 2020, bermondsey, london, se1, se16, collage, work in progress, paper

 

 

 

 

I collaged airmail envelopes and luggage labels onto the covers of my sketchbook to ready it for its journey

 

 

brooklyn art library, the sketchbook project, sketchbook cover, corona virus lockdown 2020, bermondsey, london, se1, se16, collage, work in progress, paper

 

 

and then added the hand drawn text.

work in progress, illustration, brooklyn art library, the sketchbook project, sketchbook, urban landscape, urban sketching, corona virus lockdown 2020, bermondsey, london, map, paper, River Thames, street map, Bermondsey Street, The Blue Bermondsey

 

 

To make my map I started by marking out the loactions I wanted to include on a printout of a google map.

 

 

work in progress, sketch, illustration, brooklyn art library, the sketchbook project, sketchbook, urban landscape, urban sketching, corona virus lockdown 2020, bermondsey, london, map, collage, paper, craft, paper cutting, River Thames, street map, Bermondsey Street, The Blue Bermondsey

 

 

I drew a rough version to the correct size

 

 

 

 

illustration, brooklyn art library, the sketchbook project, sketchbook, urban landscape, urban sketching, corona virus lockdown 2020, bermondsey, london, map, collage, paper, craft, paper cutting, River Thames, street map, Bermondsey Street, The Blue Bermondsey, work in progress

 

 

and then, while looking through a selection of old papers I decided to collage the map rather than draw it.

 

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bermondsey

https://www.stylist.co.uk/life/best-places-live-london-revealed/196218

https://www.businessinsider.com/sunday-times-best-places-to-live-bermondsey-best-in-london-for-2018-2018-3?r=US&IR=T

History

History of Bermondsey Abbey

http://www.shermanandwaterman.co.uk/bermondsey-antique-market-a-complete-history/

https://www.london-se1.co.uk/

In Old Bermondsey

The car repair shop with horses heads

https://collage.cityoflondon.gov.uk/home

http://www.secret-london.co.uk/Bermondsey_2.html

Artwork in India (12) – Himachal Pradesh

tirthan valley, himachal pradesh, india, collage, airmail, pen and wash, watercolour, landscape, travel blog, travel illustration, river, mountains, rocks, watercolor, sketchbook

Himachal Pradesh was on my wishlist from February but the weather was just too cold to make the trip pleasurable until spring finally arrived halfway through April. 

I kept seeing gorgeous photos on Instagram and eventually booked two sets of accommodation in the Tirthan Valley. It was still damp and rainy when we arrived but we had a wood burner and electric blankets in our room to turn the chill into cosy.

To reach Himachal Pradesh from West Bengal we took a taxi from Siliguri to Bagdogra, flew to Delhi then on to Chandigarh (both steaming hot), then hired a car and driver to drop us in the Tirthan Valley.

Flights from Delhi to Kullu Manali (Himachal Pradesh’s airport)  are extremely expensive and unreliable due to the weather conditions, and while night buses from Delhi to Kullu are cheap, they take about 10 hours and don’t have proper sleeper berths (just reclining seats).

So that’s why we opted for the car and driver; door to door convenience, comfort and a reasonable price. Salman the driver loved the trip too, it was his first visit to Tirthan and he was mightily impressed by the phenomenal landscape.

A landscape which I found impossible to capture well in watercolour. I made one attempt which ended in frustration so I covered the mess with a collage and did a simple sketch on top. Life is too short to labour over landscapes when you can simply admire them.

tirthan valley, himachal pradesh, himalayas, mountains, india, travel photography, wanderlust, travel blog, springtime

Still with an eye on the weather in desirable destinations like Manali and Mcleodganj (the Dalai Lama’s base in India) at higher altitudes we decided to stay put in the Banjar region until we had to return to Delhi and then to London. Comfort won out over curiosity; a sign of age perhaps.

Himachal Pradesh is a fantastic place to finish my trip. The weather is gentle as are our generous hosts here in the Tirthan Valley. 

I also found this epic book in our guesthouse and was immediately hooked.

India had been a profoundly wonderful and confusing experience, there were many points when I felt like I’d had enough but then something amazing would happen and I’d bounce back. 

Arundhati Roy, perhaps as only an Indian woman can, weaves a beautiful tale entwining the tragic, seemingly eternal (and universally human) threads of sexism, racism, classism, religion, corruption, exploitation and violence in ‘The Ministry of Utmost Happiness’. The book is mostly set in Kashmir and Delhi but encompasses the whole of India.

“They aren’t very good at other people’s pain. But then who is? … What we have on our hands is a species problem. None of us is exempt.”

A sad but funny and fascinating read and a great Indian history lesson.

Europe will undoubtedly seem pale after India but I will be happy to dress and express myself as I wish again without worrying that I’m offending anyone.

That’s a huge luxury, as is white privilege – being born in a relatively rich, secular and democratic country.

tirthan valley, himachal pradesh, himalayan foothills, kullu, india, springtime, countryside, flowers, mountains, cactus, slate roof

Himachal Pradesh is so beautiful in the springtime and the people of the Tirthan Valley are so warm, kind and hospitable. We climbed up a really big hill today; up a dirt track, stone steps, through flowery meadows full of butterflies, we passed a waterfall, a few slate roofed cottages and a tiny school. Near the top a dog started barking at us quite enthusiastically; his lovely family gave us a glass of cold cordial and invited us in to see the temple in their new wooden house. We had very few words in common but they worked.

bidi, beedi, leaf cigarette, indian cigarette, bundi, rajasthan, india, travel illustration, illustration, pen and wash, watercolour, watercolor, painting, drawing, sketchbook, collage, packaging

Little sketchbook homage to the humble bidi (or beedi) a cheap but tasty Indian smoke. Basically it’s a leaf rolled around a tiny bit of tobacco, secured with a string. There was a bidi factory in Bundi, a beautiful town in Rajasthan that I visited in January. The bidies in the image above are painted, the rest is a collage of beautiful bidi packaging.

Herman@ de Tod@s

Arte Vejer recently staged a group exhibition of artworks made by local artists inspired by the Spanish poet Federico García Lorca who was murdered 80 years ago on the orders of Franco the fascist dictator.

Lorca was born on the 5th June (the same day as me) in 1898 (several years before me) in a small town close to Granada. That’s why I chose the pomegranate as the theme for my collage; granada means pomegranate in Spanish and the ancient town was renamed after the fruit during the Moorish period.

lorca, tribute, homage, granada, pomegranate, mixed media, collage, map, charcoal, acrylic paint, crackle glaze, betun stain, fairy light, arte vejer

The pomegranate is also a symbol of abundance and fertility which aptly describes Lorca’s imagination, passion and creative genius; he was a  prolific writer, considered to be one of Spain’s most important poets and published his first book at the age of 21.

The first stage of the process (above) was to blacken the background (paper on cardboard) and outline the pomegranate seeds with layers of charcoal.

lorca, tribute, homage, granada, pomegranate, mixed media, collage, map, charcoal, acrylic paint, crackle glaze, betun stain, fairy light, arte vejer

Lorca moved to Madrid in 1919 and devoted himself entirely to his art which was infused with the flamenco culture of his native Andalusia. He was a contemporary of Buñuel and Dalí who introduced him to surrealism. Lorca and Dalí had a particularly intimate relationship involving ‘love, passion and respect‘ but it is rumoured that Dalí’s aversion to physical contact and his repressed sexuality led him to reject Lorca’s advances.

I painted the seeds and persistent calyx (the bit at the top of the fruit) with acrylic.

lorca, tribute, homage, granada, pomegranate, mixed media, collage, map, charcoal, acrylic paint, crackle glaze, betun stain, fairy light, arte vejer

In 1929 Lorca left Spain to spend a year in New York where he was inspired by the African-American spirituals he heard in Harlem, his favourite part of the city.

Next I collaged a map of the world over the background (above), this represents the international reach of Lorca’s work and art in general as well as his time abroad. I then painted over it with acrylic.

lorca, tribute, homage, granada, pomegranate, mixed media, collage, map, charcoal, acrylic paint, crackle glaze, betun stain, fairy light, arte vejer

The text is an extract from one of Lorca’s last interviews.

Here’s the full quote in Spanish:

“Yo soy español integral y me sería imposible vivir fuera de mis límites geográficos; pero odio al que es español por ser español nada más, yo soy hermano de todos y execro al hombre que se sacrifica por una idea nacionalista, abstracta, por el sólo hecho de que ama a su patria con una venda en los ojos. El chino bueno está más cerca de mí que el español malo. Canto a España y la siento hasta la médula, pero antes que esto soy hombre del mundo y hermano de todos. Desde luego no creo en la frontera política.”

And translated into English

“I am Spanish through and through and it would be impossible for me to live outside my geographic boundaries; but I hate those Spanish people who are merely Spanish and nothing more, I am brother to all and abhor the man who sacrifices himself to an abstract nationalist idea purely because he blindly loves his homeland. I feel closer to the good Chinese man than the bad Spanish man. I sing to Spain and feel her in my marrow, but before that I am a man of the world and brother of all. Of course I don’t believe in political borders.”

The quote really sang to me when I came across it; it seems particularly apposite in these times of Brexit and Trump when ugly nationalism and bigotry are on the rise again. 

I cut the letters for the text from magazines and stuck them down in the style of an old fashioned ransom note (above) as a reference to the fact that Lorca was abducted before being killed by a falangist firing squad.

I added ‘A’s to the ‘O’s of ‘hermano’ and ‘todos’ to explicitly make the words gender neutral which also happily turned those letters into anarchist symbols.

Next I painted electrical cables emerging from the calyx of the pomegranate (below) to turn it into a fairy light. I made this piece just before Christmas so it was seasonally apt (although I am a huge fan of the year round fairy light) and it also suggests that the earth is but a bauble hanging in the vastness of the universe and that we humans take our opinions about our piffling differences far too seriously.

The final stage of the process (below) was to paint crackle glaze over the whole of the image before applying bitumen, gold paint and glitter as stains.

lorca, tribute, homage, granada, pomegranate, mixed media, collage, map, charcoal, acrylic paint, crackle glaze, betun stain, fairy light, arte vejer

Lorca was staying at his family’s country home just outside Granada when the civil war started in 1936. About a month before his incarceration and murder on August 19th Lorca had a disturbing dream in which he was being menaced by a group of grieving women waving black crucifixes.

Archaeologists are still searching for the exact burial site of Lorca’s body. 

Light Hearted

Light-hearted1-kathryn-hockey-artist-illustrator-web

About a week after my Dad had a mild heart attack in the spring of 2014 he had an angiogram to find out which of his coronary arteries might need stents to open them up and improve the blood flow to his heart muscle.  He asked the cardiologist if the stents would stop his supraventricular tachycardia – also known as SVT, a sudden acceleration of the heart rate which usually resolves without treatment and causes no harm.

 

The cardiologist replied “No, this is plumbing and that’s wiring”.

When my Dad told me the story this picture sprang to my mind, almost fully formed.

I started by researching related images and sticking them in my sketchbook and then set about making some sketches.

Heart-moodboard-2-kathryn-hockey-artist-illustrator-webHeart-moodboard-1-kathryn-hockey-artist-illustrator-web

The power switch and plug represent the sinoatrial node, or pacemaker, which is the area of heart tissue that generates the electrical impulses which cause the heart to beat. My Mum has had a pacemaker fitted so this part also refers to her.

The fairy lights are a celebratory representation of the electrical impulses which drive the heart, they are also inspired by the ring of flowers or thorns which typically adorn a sacred heart and by the nostlgia for the childhood Christmas times when my Dad would take the lights down from the loft, untangle them and replace the dud bulbs ready for my Mum and me to decorate the tree.

Once I was happy with the basic layout I enlarged the rough drawing,

Heart-Sketch-kathryn-hockey-artist-illustrator-web

traced it onto my working surface and began to collage.

I used sheet music for the lungs/wings because music, lungs and wings all need air to work properly.

The map which forms the background for the heart and blood vessels is of the Brecon Beacons, my Dad used to lead trekking holidays there for apprentices of the engineering company where he worked as a training instructor. He told me that he’d had a clear out of his old maps and I said “I’ll have them!” but he’d already taken them to the charity shop so I went straight there and bought them back.

Once the lungs/wings were collaged I added charcoal outlines and stuck on the map pieces.

Light-hearted-process4-kathryn-hockey-artist-illustrator-web

I then applied a wash of acryilc paint and more charcoal outlines and shading

Heart-Detail-11-kathryn-hockey-artist-illustrator-web

All the plumbing and electrical components were made in the same way:

I drew them onto thick paper,

applied a wash of acrylic paint and reinforced the outlines and shading with charcoal,

Light-hearted-process2-kathryn-hockey-artist-illustrator-web

cut them out,

Light-hearted-process3-kathryn-hockey-artist-illustrator-web

and stuck them on.

Light-hearted-process6-kathryn-hockey-artist-illustrator-web

The electrical flex and glow from the fairy lights are painted with acrylic.

Light-hearted-detail-kathryn-hockey-artist-illustrator-web

Working  with collage, drawn collage, acrlyic paint and charcoal in this way was really fun and liberating.

Details: 36 x 41 cm, mixed media comprising collage, painted collage, acrylic paint and charcoal on paper and card.

7 Days

7 Days‘ is the title of the fifth and final assignment I completed for my illustration course with the OCA (Open College of the Arts)

The series of 7 patterns (1 for each day of the title) was inspired by a summer boating holiday on the Canal du Midi in the south of France, and also by the wonderful woodblock designs for wallpaper and fabric of Marthe Armitage, the dramatic wallpapers featured in Sherlock the TV series and the films August:Osage County and American Hustle.

The title page shows the location:

digital collage, map of France, canal du midi

I chose 7 themes from the trip and made a motif for each, which I then multiplied to make a pattern:

Day of the 2CV

2CV, digital collage, pattern, car, illustrationDay of the Locks

Canal du Midi, lock, canal boat, digital collage, pattern

Day of the Sunflower

Sunflowers, digital collage, pattern

Day of the Plane Tree

Plane tree, digital collage, illustration, pattern

Day of Patisserie

Patisserie, cake, digital collage, illustration

Day of the Dragonfly

dragonflies, dragonfly, digital collage, pattern, illustration

Day of the Grapevine

grapevine, vinyard, grapevines, digital collage, illustration

 My ultimate aim is to reproduce some if not all of these patterns on wallpaper, fabric and other surfaces.

The method was pretty much the same for each pattern; here’s an outline:

  1. Research photos and sketches made on the spot
  2. Preliminary sketches from the initial research images
  3. Pencil or pen drawing from the sketches
  4. Drawing scanned to Photoshop where the line work was cleaned (by adjusting brightness/contrast, duplicating with the layer blend mode set to multiply and using the eraser tool) and cut out
  5. Colours and textures added in Photoshop layers using scanned handmade collages and marbling, bought papers, flat and graduated digital Photoshop colours and textured colours in Corel Painter12
  6. Duplication of the coloured single unit
  7. Adding a background of flat digital colour or scanned paper
  8. Adding texture to the background

For those who are interested in seeing  the production method for each image in more detail I’ve added them below:

Title page

For the background I made a map of Europe by tracing the outline in pencil onto squared paper

traced-europe-map-kathryn-hockey-artist-illustrator

which I then scanned to Photoshop and inverted

I then collaged the map in Photoshop layers with some bought paper

and marbling I had made using oil paints

and a French flag which I found through an internet search

I distorted the map with the free transform tool and applied my inverted outline of a plane tree and grapevine pattern (methods below), adjusting the layer blending modes, tone, saturation, curves and levels in Photoshop.

I printed the text ‘7 Days a journey in patterns’ from Photoshop , traced it in pencil and scanned the tracing back into Photoshop where I coloured / inverted it


I wanted to show the location of the Canal du Midi, so next I made a collage of another map of France I found through an internet search, applying torn fragments from a French road atlas

working over it in water soluble green crayon and a wash of acrylic paint

before applying a crackle glaze and white acrylic paint to highlight the cracks and scanning it into Photoshop

I traced the outline of the canal in Corel Painter layers from this map I found on the internet and applied it to my cropped collaged map in Photoshop, adjusting the tone and saturation, adding text to mark Toulouse and Sete (the towns at either end of the canal), and creating a border using the brush tool and a scan of aged paper in layers.

I had a practice run at labeling France on a print out my map of Europe (to which I’d applied a crackle glaze and white acrylic paint) with collage and biro

I cut out the collaged label of the lower left version in Photoshop and applied it over my background, including a smaller duplication of the ‘flagged’ France and a smaller duplication with reduced opacity of the Canal du Midi map over the larger ‘flagged’ France map

Finally, in Photoshop, I adjusted the tone and saturation of the background to improve the contrast, added and coloured a boat from the locks pattern (see below) labelled the Canal du Midi on the larger map insert and added an inverted outline of the 2CV drawing (see below).

Patterns:

2CV

Research photo taken in France, I also referred to a photo I found on the internet

Pen drawing

Scanned to Photoshop, line work cleaned and cut out

Coloured in Photoshop

2CV, car, digital collage, illustration

Curves adjusted, image duplicated and scanned paper added in Photoshop layers for background texture

2CV, pattern, car, digital collage, illustration 2CV, car, pattern, digital collage, illustration

Tone adjusted to achieve different coloured versions

Locks

3 sketches made on site to show how the canal boats go ‘up and down hill’ via the lock system

1 of many, many photos I took of the boat in a lock

A series of sketches I made to work out how to show how boats move up and down stream through the lock mechanism in ‘3D’

I traced the final sketch, made a pen drawing and scanned it to Photoshop in 2 parts

The line work is cleaned, duplicated, aligned and cut out in Photoshop

Outline duplicated in Photoshop layers on a scanned paper background with stripes added with the brush tool

Canal locks, digital collage, illustration

Collage and colour applied to the line work in Photoshop layers: leaves with the collaged map of France (see above); water with the brush tool; locks with the photo of concrete shown below

Locks, canal, canal du midi, lock diagram, digital collage, illustration

Finally the single unit is duplicated and stripes of scanned blue paper are added in Photoshop layers. I also added a final outline layer over the top to improve definition. The repeated unit is reminiscent of the form of Tibetan thangka art

Sunflowers

Research photos taken on the spot

Rough sketches for possible pattern layouts, I wanted to show the sunflowers rotating, as if towards the sun

Pencil drawings

Sunflower1-kathryn-hockey-artist-illustrator-web

Drawings scanned to Photoshop, line work cleaned, trimmed and cut out

Sunflower-3-kathryn-hockey-artist-illustrator--web

Pattern trials made by duplicating layers in Photoshop

Sunflowers coloured in Photoshop layers: yellow centres and green parts collaged with different tonal versions of the France collage map (see above); petals with flat and graduated digital colour

Collaged sunflowers duplicated to form single unit of repeat

Single unit duplicated and flipped vertically

Sunflower-blue-kathryn-hockey-artist-illustrator-web

Colour and pattern trials

Sunflower-blue-collage1-kathryn-hockey-artist-illustrator-web

I finally settled on a blue background, to represent the summer sky, adding texture to it via a scanned canvas

Plane Tree

Planted between 1681-1810, plane trees line long lengths of the Canal du Midi and are dying because of a fungus but I decided not to portray the dying trees in favour of ‘aesthetic delectation’.

Sketch made on site

plane-tree-photo-kathryn-hockey-artist-illustrator-web

1 of many research photos taken on site, I also referred to this Natural History Museum photo

Plane-tree-pattern-sketch2kathryn-hockey-artist-illustrator-web

Rough sketches to work out a single repeating unit

Pen drawing of the single unit

Single unit duplicated in Photoshop layers

Pattern line work inverted

Yellow tonal version of my collaged map of France added as a background to the inverted cut out line work. It overpowered the pattern which lacks definition

I redrew the single unit in pencil, adding more detail

Drawing scanned to Photoshop, line work cleaned and cut out

Plane-Tree-collage-kathryn-hockey-artist-illustrator-web

Collaged in Photoshop layers with my France collage map

Line work inverted and tone of collage adjusted, I love these autumnal shades but my pattern needed to be summery green

Layer effects applied to inverted line work

The version I decided to repeat

Pattern variations

Patisserie

Research photos

Pen drawings made from photos

Drawings scanned to Photoshop, line work cut out, inverted, duplicated and coloured in Photoshop and Corel Painter12

Coloured cakes duplicated to make a pattern

cakes, patisserie, digital collage, illustration

 Inverted line work introduced to background to add depth, subtle granular texture added

cakes, patisserie, digital collage, illustration

Closer crop

Dragonfly

Research photo

Partial pen drawing

Drawing scanned to Photoshop, cleaned, part duplicated and flipped horizontally

Playing with tone and saturation settings

Line work inverted

Playing with tone and saturation settings for the inverted version

Inverted line work multiplied

Line work on a scanned paper background

Multiplied

A4 crop

Grapevine

Research photos

Preliminary sketches from photos

Pen drawing

Scanned and duplicated

The single unit was collaged in Photoshop layers with the following material:

marbling I made with oil paints

scanned to Photoshop and tone/saturation adjusted for the grapes

my collaged France map for the vine leaves

textured paper for the ground

textured paper for the vine trunks

The duplicated collage

A closer crop

 

Requiem

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This collage is made from objects found on the beach where I live along with scraps of paper, leather and ribbon.

It is on show (and for sale) at La Casa del Arco until September 10th 2013

Rosas Amarillas para Adrián

…or ‘Yellow Roses for Adrián’

Rosas-Amarillas-para-Adrián-web

 

This painting was commissioned as a gift for the flamenco dancer Adrián Brenes (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Adri%C3%A1n-Brenes/505485442831689?fref=ts)

It’s a pen and watercolour piece with collaged elements (also pen and watercolour on paper) which overlap the mount.

When I saw Adrián dance, as well as being struck by the passion and power of his performance, I was fascinated by his footwear (he’s a very dapper chap). So I chose the boots to represent Adrián, the yellow roses signify friendship, they are set on a window sill which is draped by curtains, suggesting a stage and you can see Adrián’s home town of Conil de la Frontera in the background. The text ‘tiriti tran tran tran….’ is a flamenco refrain.

Mixed media collage on reclaimed wood

These collages are made with found wood, bottle caps, ribbon, string, feathers and paper scraps

012Map,-cap-and-feather Pray-for-Surf Tryptic1

 

The ‘Pray for Surf’ image is available as a postcard

Pray-for-Surf-postcardweb

Wonder

Wonder, Free Space Gallery, Kentish Town Health Centre, art exhibitionFree Space Gallery

Kentish Town Health Centre, 2 Bartholomew Road, London, NW5 2BX
May 2011

See photos of the exhibition here

Curator Melissa Hardwick

Click here to read Melissa´s post about the exhibition

Click here for more information about the Free Space Gallery