City Journal: Trafalgar Square & National Gallery

I should probably blog about something Halloween-related today, but meh… I’m not organised enough to be frank. Instead, I hopped out of bed at 7am this morning on auto-pilot from work (sorry, when I say ‘hop’, that’s an enormous exaggeration), and had the urge to get out my watercolours. Although on second thoughts, wouldn’t it be a fantastic Halloween costume to go as the Blue Rooster from the Fourth Plinth?

City Journal: Trafalgar Square & National Gallery

I haven’t yet introduced you to my city sketchbook! Probably because I’ve been slow to fill it, as I always am with sketchbooks. So far, so good though… sketches are trickling in bit-by-bit. First of all these pages are inspired by a trip to Trafalgar Square one day which is a reliably good place to spend the afternoon alone in London in my experience.

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Sitting on the Fourth Plinth is a striking giant cockerel by Katharina Fritsch, its stunning ultramarine brightening up an often grey and wet urban sky. I love it! It’s a hit of Surrealism in the city centre – reminiscent of Dali’s lobster phone perhaps – a strangely non-urban subject (maybe it reminds me of the countryside?!). And the pigeons seem to like it.

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I doodled en plein air of course, which always attracts attention. That’s the hardest part of sketching for me… knowing that people will come and comment and take photos of me. But it’s satisfying in a sea of iPhones and instagram to get out a pen and paper. It stops you seeing everything through a screen, and makes you stare more intently at what is in front of you. It’s also slower, colder, and more hit and miss. So not for everyone I admit!

City Journal: Trafalgar Square & National Gallery

Cafe-o-holic that I am I had a good doodling session in the National Gallery (east wing) cafe, a lovely room dominated by dark wood, pot plants, and a large counter of cakes as you walk in. I had tea & a Chelsea bun. Good antidote to a rainy day.

Finally, I went to see the Michael Landy “Saints Alive” exhibition in the National Gallery. It really has to be seen to be believed, so I’ve attached the Guardian’s preview video about the exhibition, and I would urge you to see this (free) show before it finishes at the end of November! It’s boisterous, shocking, funny and wacky. Which perhaps isn’t too far from the stories of the martyrs it depicts. It’s like an exhibition of steampunk saints. If you’re someone who says they’re not keen on ‘modern art’ and you find blue roosters a bit beyond your comprehension, still go and see it. I mean, at least there’s a good café next door.
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