Monday, June 10, 2019

Highbury and Islington - Victoria Line, Overground

Station: 011/270
Date: 04/06/2018 
Travelling Companions: None

011 148 x 210mm Watercolour and Ink - £50
A grey and rainy day. I thought I knew this walk. I thought I had travelled from Kings Cross to Highbury enough times to know all the back channel but the route surprises me.

I tend to map out these walks using an OS map and another tube map app that maps out the network in its actuality rather than the topological map we know so well.

Many of the tube lines shadow the main roads, because it was easier to lay the track down presumably, but this route takes you just a little up the Caledonian Road before causing you to zig zag increasingly more expensive streets on your way I north.

I saw...

Housmans, the political bookshop that I revere but don't go in because i wouldn't know where to start and I don't want to look stupid.

A beautiful crescent that goes nowhere then comes back as all crescents do.

A sign that goes down the side of building. The sort of detail in architecture that could be 50 years old or put up yesterday.

A televsion-video-sales and repair centre. I must remember where it is and use it. It's so beautiful that these things exist. I will never use it.

A street with sphynxs outside the doors.

A building that used to be a pub and then was something else that sold booze but now isn't anything at all.

The Elfrida Society.

A man on a dolphin on a door handle on a door.

And so to Highbury and Islington. I signed a record deal here. My friend got beaten up here. I saw the Palace Brothers here. I rented an office here when I once could afford to rent an office.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Kings Cross St Pancras - Victoria Line, Northern Line, Hammersmith and City Line, Circle Line, Metropolitan Line

Station: 010/270
Date: 27/03/2018 
Travelling Companions: None

010 148 x 210mm Watercolour and Ink - £50

I often used to get off here and walk down to Tottenham Court Road rather than change 

A short walk past the British Library from Euston to Kings Cross. As with Euston it's hard to pinpoint what constitutes the exterior or entrance to this tube station, there are many ways in and many routes around it's maze of tunnels once you're inside.

Kings Cross tube station tells lies as well. Some of the signs for the Victoria Line deliberately send you the long way around. I assume it's to prevent passenger congestion.

It's one of those London badges you earn and then wear with honour. Nope, don't go that way, follow me, I know London I do.

I sit on the concrete on what used to be the front of Kings Cross is kind of the back. I draw the old hotel between the gaps of some new station architecture. Everything is changing and moving. Even the station itself. 

Here's a link on how to navigate Kings Cross station.

Euston - Victoria Line, Northern Line

Station: 009/270
Date: 27/03/2019
Travelling Companions: None

009 148 x 210mm Watercolour and Ink - £50
Walking from Warren Street to Euston I notice the things that aren't there. I also don't notice the things that aren't there.

The building works for cross rail has run an eraser through some of the streets to the side of Euston. I remember a hotel Ibis that's disappeared, but not what was either side of it. We don't really remember the buildings that disappear. We just notice the gaps and think, what used to be there?

It's not the first time the railway has rubbed away the landscape. Euston station used to have a magnificent arch as it's entrance. It was removed in the 60s when the new station was built.

The idea of this project is to draw the entrance or exterior of each Underground Station but in these big main line termini it's sometimes hard to ascertain what is the entrance exactly. There is an entrance to Euston Station but really I think the entrance to the Underground might just be the top of the escalators so I drew that.

Everyone is in motion and I am the only person standing still, no wait, one other person. A man in hi-viz. He tells people to use both escalators. He says it every minute or so.

Because we are the people who are staying there and not moving through we notice each other. We acknowledge our shared static nature. Until I leave.

Here's John Betjeman on the Euston Arch

Monday, February 4, 2019

Warren Street - Victoria Line, Northern Line

008 148 x 210mm Watercolour and Ink - £50
Station: 008/270
Date: 04/01/2018 
Travelling Companions: Minnie the Dog

Warren Street often used to feel like the edge of the middle for me.

I often used to get off here and walk down to Tottenham Court Road rather than change on the Northern Line. It was perhaps the first instance of me knowing London well enough to walk between points rather than use transport.

I used to love that walk because during my twenties lots of the shops on the walk from Warren Street to Tottenham Court Road were hi-fi and computer shops, but it was the age we now live in, where everything you need is encased in one white box.

It was still the age of the gadget where different combinations of devices with various leads could make all sorts of dreams come true.

I particularly remember the Pro Tape shop. A shop which sold every kind of recording medium you could imagine. A shop never needed again.

It was lust and consumerism for me with my face pressed up against the shop window glass, but it was also something that poked my imagination. What would you do with all that stuff Darren? What songs would you make? What films would you shoot?

Monday, January 7, 2019

Oxford Circus - Victoria Line, Bakerloo Line, Central Line

007 148 x 210mm Watercolour and Ink - £50
Station: 007/270
Date: 04/01/2018 
Travelling Companions: Minnie the Dog

Oxford Circus marks the first station I feel reluctant to walk through and draw. It's busy makes nervous. I guess the point of this project was for it to take me to the networks extremities, but I also understand that I will have to keep diving through the hustle and bustle.

I know Oxford Circus isn't really the centre of London but it always feels like the centre to me, everything seems to be drawn here. Oxford Circus was always my gateway to London when I lived in Walthamstow, down the Victoria line and then out here in all the chaos.

It's also the first place in London I knew alongside Tottenham Court Road. Getting on the train here from Essex and just coming here because I just thought it was what you were supposed to do. Just walking around with a bag of comic and eating in Burger King.

Oxford Circus 1969
No-one stays here and that's what weird about sitting here and drawing for half an hour. Everybody is rushing past and its actually quite hard to see the entrances to the tube station. Something you might start to notice in my pictures is that there are no people. I used to draw people, and then I stopped. Consequently everything starts to look like Day of the Triffids or 28 Days Later.

Which I'm fine with. So I crouch down with Minnie and try to wipe out all of the people.

I made Oxford Circus an Oasis of calm.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Green Park - Victoria Line, Piccadily line

006 148 x 210mm Watercolour and Ink - £50
Station: 005/270
Date: 04/01/2019
Travelling Companions: Minnie the Dog

A walk from Victoria to Green Park station.

I figured that most of these central walks would be known to me but London still surprises me at how it connects together. I always think of Buckingham Palace as being at the end of the Mall, that's how you get to it. Go to Trafalgar Square and walk down the Mall.

But I turn round the corner and there it is and me and Minnie are stuck and squashed amongst loads of people wearing bad sunglasses in January. Everyone is taking pictures of ridiculous soldiers on horseback. Minnie thinks it's all stupid. So do I.

Eventually I walk across Green Park and wondered if they dug it up to lay the underground and then remembered that they had tunnelling machines. The past feels futuristic sometimes.

I draw the park entrance to Green Park station, it also feels futuristic. Like Logan's Run in particular.

I pick a bad place to draw from. A cigarette bin is on fire but I only realise after I've started drawing. The smoke engulfs me.

I tried to put it out with discarded cups of coffee. Other people come by and look at the fire and think about doing something about it and then don't.

Eventually someone comes out from the station and pours water into the bin. I thank them and we talk for a bit about cigarette bins. After they leave I finish the drawing and I notice the water has leaked from the bin and run into my bag and paints.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Victoria - Victoria, Circle and District Lines

005 148 x 210mm Watercolour and Ink - £50
Station: 005/270
Date: 13/10/2018 
Travelling Companions: Nick Richards and Minnie the Dog

There's a memory I don't want to face as I walk from Pimlico to Victoria, not a bad memory as such, just the start of a thing I should have paid more attention to. Something that slipped me up.

Places do that too, they take you down dark alleys as much as they do open fields.

Actually I do remember an open field associated to this place too. My first national interview with Everett True on some grass near here.

Victoria Station by Nick Richards
With these big stations that double as National Rail Termini as well it's hard to know what the tube station is, in terms of it's presence above ground. I actually choose a side entrance, mainly for Minnie's benefit, though the buses scare her enough.

There's a street photographer here. He's taking photos of old men and young women as they get off the buss. He is being very visible.

He wants to take a picture of me because I'm drawing and have a dog with a black eye patch so obviously it's a photo full of character. But we get into a dance with me turning every time I see his lens rise up.

We're doing a similar thing. There should be a code amongst thieves. Don't take my picture. I'm doing the pictures.

Pimlico - Victoria Line

004 210 x 148mm Watercolour and Ink - £50
Station: 004/270
Date: 13/10/2018 
Travelling Companions: Nick Richards and Minnie the Dog

Pimlico was maybe named after Ben Pimlico and his famous nut brown ale. Maybe, or maybe not.

I used to come here to visit Anna on her lunch break from the Tate Gallery. I had a massive crush on her. I never told her but maybe she knew. Who am I kidding of course she knew. She noticed.

I came here once to meet Ken, the Old Map Man, with Tim and Jen. We traced the area through ancient maps, finding the shadows of used-to-been's.

Tim and Jen would be good to take on these trips. They notice things.

I counted the windows slightly wrong. I didn't notice.

Drawing by Nick Richards

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Vauxhall - Victoria Line

003 210 x 148mm Watercolour and Ink - £50
Station: 003/270
Date: 13/10/2018 
Travelling Companions: Nick Richards and Minnie the Dog

The Victoria line is a relatively recent addition to the tube network, being completed in 1972.

The silver ski ramp entrance must be much more recent though. I can't draw things like that. It relies on a steady hand and nerve. I relegate it to the background and draw the much more wobbly brick entrance across the road.

Minnie is getting a little tired and finally curls up at my feet.

My painting water is dirty but someone has left a bottle of water on the wall by the subway. You can see it in the drawing.

Nick has gone to draw Battersea Power Station. They've replaced the chimneys and covering the bottom, so, you know, what's the point?

The tube network only just dangles over South London. We will cross the river now.

Nick's drawing of Battersea Power Station

Stockwell - Victoria and Northern Line

002 210 x 148mm Watercolour and Ink - £50
Station: 001/270
Date: 13/10/2018 
Travelling Companions: Nick Richards and Minnie the Dog

The day is far too sunny for October.

Outside Stockwell station is a permanent memorial to Jean Charles De Menezes. It's a photo of him in the sun too and it tells us not to forget. But the picture is blurred and fuzzy and I think how often random victims are immortalised by bad photos.
Nick's drawing of Stockwell War Memorial

Pick a good photo when I go guys. Not one from the side, I have no chin.

I nestle by the bike racks again. A joker offers me some money. I've been working in the countryside for a long time. I'm used to no-one talking to me. Except the neighbourhood watch.

As well as Minnie the dog my walking companion today has been Nick Richards. I used to live with him at art college back when I was 18/19. At one point the three people in our house had the three lowest marks on the course. I wasn't quite reckless enough to be proud of that then but I am now.

Me and Nick have recently become reacquainted and I enjoy talking to him about drawing and what we can do to get better at it. He is much better then me and always has been, but I still see some connection between our drawings. Some kind of similarity born out of learning together.

I remember drawing with Nick in the middle of the night by the River Medway in East Farleigh.

I remember spraining my ankle one drunken night coming home from Suzzanne's. She recorded my songs in her basement and had a box that made the drums sound good.

Brixton - Victoria Line

001 210 x 148mm Watercolour and Ink - £50

Station: 001/270
Date: 13/10/2018
Travelling Companions: Nick Richards and Minnie the Dog

I will start at the edges, then work my way in, and then out and then in again.

Railway bridge in Brixton by Nick Richards
Brixton is the nearest tube station to my new home and I will start by following the Victoria line back to my old home in Walthamstow.

When I was in my teens Brixton represented the edge of my world. My parents allowed me to travel into London from Essex for gigs and the furthest I went was the Brixton Academy.

It was at the edge of my experience too. It seemed sharp, lawless and and dirty. The name alone threw up images of fire and blood from the 1981 Brixton Riot. But Brixton has always been kind to me, from my first DJ gig, to swimming in Brockwell Lido or one of my earliest dates in the Ritzy with my future wife.

I figure I'm going to spend a lot of time amongst bike racks doing this. They provide support whilst I draw and a little protection for my scared dog.

When you stay still in one place you notice patterns. I'm by the cigarette bin where a young man judges when people are about to discard their butts so he can smoke what remains.

Here I am at the edge, working my way in.

Like a lot of London it doesn't rush to greet you. It hugs you only once you've stuck around.