Friday, 25 June 2010

Waiting at Stratford Station: 24 June 2010

Sitting on platform one underneath a bridge beyond which is the building site which will be the new Westfield shopping centre.

The joys of Stratford Bus Station: 24 June 2010

Over the years I have probably spent hours waiting at Stratford Bus Station. My parents used to live in Suffolk in a town called Bury St. Edmunds and you can catch the coach from here. Although the bus station is fairly new it smells of stale fast food and, being tunnel shaped, the wind whips through it. If you have to wait for more than 15 minutes you can end up feeling like a frozen block.

Friday, 18 June 2010

I've arrived at Stratford: 17 June 2010

In my opinion Stratford is an odd place. When we first moved to Hackney, which was only six years ago, Stratford was a junction that you went to in order to travel to somewhere else - it wasn't a destination as such. A lot of buildings were boarded up, there was a collapsed air about the place and deprivation was clear all around. The only signs of life might be a street fight outside a café.

Then five years ago the 2012 Olympic games were awarded to London with Stratford being at its heart. One of the blessings of this decision is that millions of pounds are being pumped into the area to regenerate it. So yesterday I went there by train, enjoying the fancy new rolling stock, and arrived at a very clean and new platform that suggested efficiency and purpose. This felt very odd and nothing like the Stratford I'm familiar with.

I decided that this was not what I wanted to record on paper, well not yet anyway. I wanted a reminder of the faded, down-at-heel Victorian architecture, pollution and too much traffic. So I ended up in the centre of the town in St John's churchyard where I found a place to sit underneath a memorial. It was a warm day, I had the place to myself and as I looked about I thought 'this is a fairly dismal sort of churchyard but it'll do'. Then I spied a bottle and decided I must be sitting where the drunks normally hang out but there was no sign of any. So I sat and drew the picture you see above - I was facing the Broadway which runs from East to West. I combined water soluble pencil and ink on this one.

It wasn't until I got home that I looked up some of the history of Stratford which I got from Wikipedia. Like much of London Stratford was open countryside until the advent of the railways in 1839 so that didn't surprised me. What did surprise me was that there had been an abbey called St Mary's which dominated the area from 1135 when it was founded, until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1538. That's 400 years and there is now no sign above ground of it ever having existed!

So that's made me ponder the future of all this new building of sports stadia and the development of an enormous shopping centre that is now dominating the landscape. I can't imagine for one moment that there will be any of it left to see in another 400 years time - maybe by then London will have returned to open countryside.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Manor Road, West Ham: 4 June 2010

I decided to go back to West Ham a couple of weeks later because I'd spotted a view right outside the station that looked worth a go at.

It was a rare day of sunshine and even though I was sitting in some shade I had to stop drawing because I was too hot.

Memorial Park, West Ham: 21 May 2010

For this sketch I decided to try out some water soluble pencils that I'd been given as a present.

Behind that row of trees in the background is the East London cemetery which I had roamed around before settling on this view in Memorial Park.

West Ham is a big improvement on Canning Town in my view.

Barking Road, Canning Town: 30 March 2009

Since I'd found West Sivertown so dispiriting I took the train one stop to Canning Town, and rather than make a drawing inside the station I set off on foot to see what Canning Town has to offer.

And it wasn't a lot to be honest. After a cup of coffee in Macdonald's I settled on drawing the only building that looked in any way substantial and that was the Victorian library on Barking Road.

West Silvertown: 30 March 2009

I had only put the book away for 11 months this time and then found the time to pick up from where I had left off.

I took the DLR to West Silvertown and the caption on this drawing says: This station is so devoid of interest I can't find anything to hold my attention.

Thames Barrier Park: 23 April 2008

I had foolishly sat in the smokers' corner just outside London City airport and felt driven away by the smell. So I got back on the DLR and headed one stop to Pontoon Dock - this is a vast modern station with almost no-one using it.

This stop had the attraction of a park with a pleasant café and a view of the Thames Barrier which is responsible for keeping London from flooding. I had never seen it before other than in a photograph.

London City Airport: 23 April 2008

So it was roughly 2.5 years before I picked up this sketch book again. I caught the Silverlink train from Hackney Central at 13:06 to Stratford and then expected to pick up a train from Stratford to Silvertown only to discover that the trains don't run that far any more!

I then decided to try and stick as closely as possible to the original route and caught the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) to London City airport - this was before the authorities got funny about people taking photos and painting sensitive locations. This was drawn using dip pen and ink (Quink ink for fountain pens).

North Woolwich: 1 August 2005

This really marked the start of my journey. It was nearly a month after the 7 July bombings in London and I remember the tension where ever you went - there was a police presence at every station. This is a sketch of the North Woolwich Railway Museum and you can see where my pen is running out.

Woolwich Ferry: 1 August 2005

This is the one and only time I've visited Woolwich Ferry. I had a great time watching the ferries load up and cross the river Thames from the north side of the river to the south side. There was a constant stream of lorries, cars and foot passengers - I had no idea how many people use that service daily.