London – where do you begin?!
I grew up in suburban Nairobi and I remember one of my first visits to London as a young child. We’d landed at Heathrow and my uncle, Ramesh, had kindly picked us up. On what felt like a really long way back to Finchley we began planning our trips to central London. “I’m taking you to Buckingham palace tomorrow, it’s the Queen’s house. Maybe, if she’s free we can have some chai nasto (tea and snacks) with her and then take a boat trip along the river Thames.” Part of this trip also entailed stopping off at Trafalgar Square to feed the hundreds of pigeons that would flock there, visiting Madame Tussauds where I could not believe how real the wax models looked (I did get to meet a version of the Queen after all.) That trip also included my first experience of a planetarium, sparking a life long fascination with the stars and space exploration.
Many years later I moved to London to do my foundation course at Camberwell college and explored the city from a completely different perspective. I spent hours doodling away at the Horniman gallery, Natural History Museum and probably had my first attempt at drawing Dippy. I saw my first musical – The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre, was completely blown away and briefly contemplated a career in theatre set design. I spent a lot of my days sneakily doodling commuters on the London underground, watching street artists perform in Convent Garden and the South Bank.
If you’re familiar with my work you’ll know I like to fill my work with obscure little elements… London was proving to be a massive challenge and one I kept putting off. I have so many memories of London and I wanted to fit them all in! I had hundreds of suggestions from people about where to start and end the piece. I had to take a slightly more scientific approach to this drawing. I drew the ten tallest skyscrapers that were based within zones 1 and 2, I don’t think I’ve previously appreciated quite how tall the Shard is! A number of must have tourist venues from the London Dungeons to Tower Bridge and set a map size limit to work off. There is a plan to draw more of the surrounding zones over the next few years. I’ve had numerous requests for Brixton, The London Zoo, Camden and Hampstead… if would like to add any suggestions please add them to the comments below. I can also personalise the prints if you would like a particular venue or message added.
I’ve provided an annotation below of my version of the London skyline. The annotation sheet is available with my London colouring in sheet.
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