Sunday, 22 December 2013

last drawing and filming day london

China Town

Oxford Street

From Trafalgar Square

last week we put in an extra drawing and filming day with 3 of the residents, Alex, louis and Chloe, with Alistair filming and Josh on sound.

We met up at the Topolski bar at the site where it all began nearly two years ago.
We began by drawing a series of fast post it note drawings on the north side of the Hungerford Bridge opposite Waterloo.

From there we made our way through Trafalgar Square past various weird  tableaux vivant mainly from star wars  to China Town and Piccadilly Circus.

In China Town we drew quite a crowd, literally by drawing with our feet. The idea was to loosen up by using a non dominant limb and to create some space between the drawee and the sketchbook.
It worked well and  Alistair considered it one of my best drawings. Some of the Public were less impressed, some visibly annoyed. others found it mildly amusing and filmed us filming and drawing. the residents were particularly good at this task.

From there we made our way to Oxford Circus which was manic with xmas shoppers swirling around the circus and disappearing down the plughole of the underground. We were overwhelmed by a montage of logos, branding, typography, backpacks, iphones, cameras, and traffic, an aural and visual sensory overload of out of control unashamed manic consumerism. My viewpoint perched on the top of the underground railing was quite surreal, it was like a scene from Bladerunner. Is this what xmas has come to.

A character high on shopping approached us ranting something about his penis and started biting the microphone, Josh tried to prise his chin off the mic  and he eventually stormed off  into the miasma.

Merry Xmas

Friday, 20 December 2013

Drawing with the residents at FareShare in Bermondsey

The Warehouse

 Pallet of boxes of tomatoes on racks.

Matt Booker drawing at FareShare
Alex Nicholson drawing

The Warehouse

We made drawings  at Fare Share in London

FareShare is a national UK charity supporting communities to relieve food poverty and is at the centre of two of the most urgent issues that face the UK: food poverty and food waste.

Fare Share has been operating since 2004 as an independent charity and today has 17 locations around the UK. Established in 1994 as a project within the homelessness charity Crisis, FareShare aims to help vulnerable groups, whether they are homeless, elderly, children, or other groups in food poverty within our communities.

  • In 2012/13, the food redistributed by FareShare contributed towards more than 10 million meals
  • The FareShare Community Food Network has over 1,000 Community Members across the UK receiving food, training and advice
  • Every day an average of 51,000 people benefit from the service FareShare provides

Much of the food would have  been previously destined for land fill. Products which are perfectly usable rejected by supermarkets due to forecasting errors, mis labelling, short dates, no sale, or minor damage.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Armistice Day

Trafalgar Square

Daumier Exhibition

Daumier Exhibition

Daumier Exhibition

The anniversary of the World War One armistice - signed 95 years ago - was marked in the UK with a two-minute silence. The Royal British Legion's sixth silence in the square was recorded by the Topolski residents drawing the proceedings.

We met at Trafalgar Square just as 'Britains's got talent' winner Paul Potts appeared on stage. We'd intended to give the Wacom Inkling (a digital pen) another chance and  put it through its paces. 
Unfortunately even though it had been on charge all night and  only ever used once, the battery in the pen section packed up. I spent the first half an hour trying to purchase another battery on the Strand only to find  you can only buy it through Wacom.

Back in Trafalgar Square it was raining, and the mood was sombre, but the residents made a good go of it. I  stopped drawing at 11.00 for the 2 minutes silence due to the noise of my frantic scribbling with the shorty (a propelling pencil)  echoing down the Mall and scaring the pigeons (the bird of prey circling the Square probably didn't help).
Chloe and Laura produced some amazing  speed drawings of poppies being thrown into the fountains.

We then spent the afternoon at the Daumier exhibition at the Royal Academy. We first went to the curators talk and made drawings of the participants. We then drew in the exhibition itself until we were reluctantly turfed out due to a fire. Some great views of the back of the building on the way down the fire escape. An impromptu crit in the tea rooms followed.

The Markets

Brixton Market

Brixton Market

Borough Market

Borough Market

I met up with the Topolski residents outside Brixton tube station and moved on to the markets. Fantastic weather, cold but very clear. Drawing commenced inside and out.  A fantastic multicultural visual, aural sensory overload  made drawing a real pleasure. If you've not been its a great experience. Market regulars are used to students from Camberwell and the Princes  drawing school regularly drawing them, although some market stall holders were quite reluctant to be depicted directly.

Following this we drew at Borough market, a complete contrast, architecturally, culturally and economically. The Market has been gentrified and unfortunately we arrived after most of the days action. We had an impromptu crit in a local pub to warm up . Some  great drawings from the residents especially from Brixton market.

Saturday, 7 December 2013


drawing opposite Houses of parliament with the Topolski 6

It was a blustery day inside and outside of parliament the day we drew in the Commons.
It was the Monday following the weekend hurricane.  We made our way from Surrey Quays to Waterloo on the high speed ferry. The pilots ok'd us drawing from the stern of the ferry but as soon as we laid out our 30 foot roll of paper they weren't so happy. Tourists insisted on walking across the paper. I had to abandon the panoramic drawing and stick to more traditional sketching. The residents who managed to brave the storm produced some great drawings facilitated by the bucking ferry.

We shortly arrived on the southbank opposite the Houses of Parliament. This time the 30 foot roll of paper stayed firmly in place on the flagstones assisted by a whole roll of duck tape.  The low  parapet wall made it difficult to see the opposite bank whilst drawing so a couple of the residents attached charcoal to an umbrella and a tree branch which had been blown off in the hurricane.

Following a complete downpour we arrived at security in the Houses of Parliament.
Two hours later and several confiscations of pointy drawing implements we were allowed through into the public gallery.

Drawing felt strangely dislocated due to being right up in the gods behind bullet proof glass. Interesting to see Cameron, Hague, Pickles et al in the flesh. The atmosphere seemed more like a sixth form common room. Interesting to see the procession before hand, quite Pythonesque.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Drawing in Court

A protest outside the courts re disability assessment

Last week I spent a day drawing at the Royal Courts of Justice with the Topolski residents. Unfortunately during the afternoon session we were chucked out. In fact we hadn't been troubled during the morning where we attended and drew many different cases. The specific case was possibly the problem as it was  brought about by an individual against the Metropolitan police for discrimination. I thought we were getting some odd looks but when security arrived and removed us it became apparent that drawing in court isn't as straight forward as you'd think.

The drawings were held andwe were threatened with a possible charge of contempt of court. We were eventually allowed to leave sketchbookless whilst the offending drawings were checked by the Judge. Apparently caricature is ok but a direct likeness isn't allowed.

The drawings were returned without any alterations, ommisions or deletions. I was hoping for some critical feedback but nothing was to be found amongst the pages.

From just last week TV cameras are now allowed in the Court of Appeal following a partial lifting of the long standing ban.

Barrister Michael Mansfield QC welcomed the move, saying it was long overdue.
"You have to remember justice is supposed to be public. It is public. You can walk in there today. The problem is that doesn't reach a wide enough audience and we're also subject to the editorial delights of various newspapers as to what they want to report," 

In 1945-46 Feliks Topolski attended and completed an incredible series of drawings at the Nuremburg Trials which were published in La France Libre.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Heygate Estate and Blue Elephant Theatre.

Last week I made drawings at the  soon to be demolished infamous Heygate estate in London with the Topolski residents. We spent some time drawing the iconic Neo Brutalist building from the train platform at Elephant and Castle. 

Following this we spent the afternoon at the Blue Elephant Theatre in Camberwell, drawing rehearsals for the  production 'Retrospective' 
Thankyou to the dancers and Theatre staff for their support.

We were accompanied by Josh, a cameraman who was filming the residents for a documentary on the drawing programme directed by Alistair Oldham from University of the West of England.

Dancer at the Blue Elephant Theatre

Dancer at the Blue Elephant Theatre

Heygate Estate Church RIP

Heygate Estate demolition approaching

The Heygate Estate from the station platform.
The Heygate Estate is controversially undergoing demolition. Completed in 1974 the estate had fallen into disrepair by 2000, however  surveyors recommended  refurbishment rather than demolition. Four out of five residents didn't want to move out of the estate and contrary to popular belief the crime rate in and around the estate was half the average for the borough of southwark. It was revealed that the  council had sold the estate for £50m having spent £44m emptying the site and planning the redevelopment. A compulsory purchase order was implemented in July 2013 forcing the last residents out.

Next location, The Royal Courts of Justice, where the sketchbooks were held on a charge of contempt of court before being released for not being realistic enough.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Topolski residents draw at the races

A few drawings I made earlier in the week when we went to Windsor races with the Topolski residents. Unfortunately I fell into the lure of the bookies and placed a bet on Rhombus because I liked the name. Obviously my horse came in 5th. However Andrea won two races, following a good tip from the internet. On top of this we made some great drawings and were made really welcome by the staff and public. The weather was fantastic and lighting conditions made the job of on the spot sketching all the more easier. earlier in the day we had a really interesting tour around the Frontline Club near Paddington where the residents are giving a presentation early in 2014.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Drawings from the Anti fracking protests at Balcombe

Drawing the Anti fracking camp with the Topolski studio residents at Balcombe last week.

Anti Fracking protestor at Balcombe

Little Dan whittling a stick

'Stew', the resident anti fracking camp artist

The camp is being dis-assembled.

Discussions on where to go next with the protest

The camp kitchen

Security guarding a 20cm bore hole

Monday, 2 September 2013

Thursday, 22 August 2013

drawings from Barcelona

Mila in tapas bar


La Sagrada and La Boqueria
Smokers on beach