Friday, 31 July 2015

From the 32nd floor

I was lucky to be part of a group who were invited to draw from the 32nd storey of an office block in the City of London earlier this month. Compared with buildings in many other cities, the 32nd floor isn't really so high, but in London it gives you a phenomenal view.

It would have been easy just to spend the time gawping at the view and trying to make sense of which parts of town are which, but it's not often you get a chance to draw scenes like these.

Our thanks to Carlos Olvera for inviting us up. We are hoping to arrange another visit soon.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Westminster crumbles

Never mind London Bridge, now the Houses of Parliament are falling down. A recent official report says that it could cost £5.7 billion and take 32 years to renovate it and turn it into the kind of building a modern democracy needs. UNESCO world heritage site it may be, but it is also an outdated, crumbling, rat-infested, leaking, asbestos-ridden gentlemen's club that needs dragging into the 21st century. I've already written about the leaning Big Ben.

It could be that members of parliament and peers are moved out while the restoration work is undertaken, speeding up the process. But where would they go? The Olympic Park media centre in the East End has been suggested as one temporary option. But what about outside London? Getting parliament out of the capital could invigorate its work and help change our jaded attitude to it. What about the city of Manchester, for instance? That would be an excellent choice.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Dream, Draw, Design My Garden is published now

Hello. Dream Draw Design My Garden is published now in the USA.
The book, the first in Rockport's Dream, Draw, Design series, is a playful, inspirational sketchbook rather than a book to read from cover to cover next to a roaring fire. Each page features an unfinished drawing by me to prompt you creatively through a variety of gardening design ideas.
It's a book to draw in, to stimulate your ideas and imagination towards the goal of realising your ideal garden or backyard.
Draw, paint, doodle in this book.
You can order it online at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, Indie Bound, Indigo – and your friendly local bookshop. It is published in the UK on 2 July.
Find out more and follow me @jameshobbsart on Instagram and Twitter, and visit my Facebook Author page.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

In Hoxton Square

While daughter 2 was doing her thing at the nearby National Centre for Circus Arts, I had some time sitting on the grass in Hoxton Square. I worked near here in the 1990s, before the hipster grip took over, before White Cube had moved in, let alone moved out, before you looked in estate agents' windows and rubbed your eyes. The van in the square isn't usual: work is underway to create TreexOffice, a transparent "tree office" to be built around one of these London planes as part of the Rethinking Parks project. You can book a work space in it up until December. There's more about it here.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Dream, Draw, Design My Garden is coming soon

I'm happy to say that my new book Dream Draw Design My Garden is published by Rockport in the US on 1 June and in the UK on 2 July.

Dream Draw Design My Garden is a hands-on book to draw and experiment in, with each page featuring a drawing by me that offers an inspirational jumping-off point to help you towards realising your ideal garden, back yard or roof terrace. It's an inspirational guide rather than a technical handbook, a place to let loose your imagination, with pages to help you draw your thoughts to reality.  

Visit my Facebook page for more details of Dream Draw Design My Garden – and Sketch Your World, which is now available in six languages.

You can preorder online at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, Indie Bound, Indigo, Waterstones, WHSmith – and your friendly local bookshop.

And yes, that is my back garden on the cover.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Silvertown's dereliction

London's Urban Sketchers were recently invited to draw Silvertown, a major £3.5 billion regeneration project in east London that will turn the derelict post-industrial wasteland into what aims to be the city's "new creative capital", with 3,000 new homes and 21,000 new jobs. Named after its 19th-century founder Samuel Winkworth Silver, it handled much of the old Empire's exports and imports until the 1960s when containerisation and new docks downstream took over. What remains - monumental, crumbling, windswept, beautiful – is Millennium Mills, once home to Rank Hovis MacDougall and Spillers, and a surviving grain silo. Set by the Thames in a wealth of concrete, graffiti, aircraft noise and wildlife-rich greenery, the site is one of the most exciting places I have ever drawn.

Because work is underway at the 62-acre site – our high visability jackets bore the logo of a asbestos removal company – numbers were limited to eight. Security is tight, and there are dogs on the site. We will be returning as it develops over the years so more regular urban sketchers in London may get a chance to visit it to draw.

Silvertown has been a popular backdrop for films (such as Derek Jarman's The Last of England), music videos (The Smiths, Arctic Monkeys) and TV (Ashes to Ashes). Yet quite why something grim in so many ways is so moving I'm struggling to understand. What is so alluring about urban desolation? London's sights are visible in the distance: Gherkin, Cheesegrater, Dome, Canary Wharf and the cable car. But Silvertown is still the twinkle in the developer's eye. Whatever it becomes, it can never be more lovely than it is now.

Sue Pownall, Evelyn Rowland, Lis Watkins, James Hobbs, Julie Bolus,
Isabelle Laliberté, Olha Pryymak and Nathan Brenville

Our thanks to the Silvertown Partnership for inviting us. 

Friday, 1 May 2015

Across London's rooftops

Towards the Barbican
Here are two drawings from the recent London Urban Sketchers sketchcrawl around St Paul's Cathedral. They are both from the roof terrace of the hideous One New Change shopping centre, right across the road from the cathedral. The complex's redeeming feature, as the developers must have known when they were trying to get permission to build it, is the spacious terrace on the top floor, which has great views across the city. When it costs more than £100 to get a family of four to the top of the Shard, this is an excellent, free but much much lower alternative. The dome of St Paul's seems so close you could touch it.

Towards Tate Modern