Drawing London

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After a lifetime drawing London, the watercolorist David Gentleman set out to discover if it’s possible to look afresh at the place where you live. He spent a year immersing himself in the metropolis, capturing the teeming crowds and the ever-shifting light of its changeable skies. Here he introduces a selection of images from throughout the year, and tells how his familiar world was transformed.

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Evening, Camden Town
I spent all of last year drawing London, a place I’d lived in for over 60 years and felt I already knew perfectly well. That turned out to be wrong

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Olympic park
It’s changing fast, as its remaining empty spaces get built on and its mushrooming skyline bristles with new landmarks that dwarf everything else

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The Thames from 80 Strand
To look at the cranes you wouldn’t think there was a recession on

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Primrose Hill
I enjoy London’s variety, its contrasts of old and new, grand and ordinary – of Georgian, Victorian, Gothic Revival and the shiny glass and steel tower blocks of the City and Canary Wharf

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Westminster
I love the Thames, for the space and openness it provides in a crowded city, and the way it gives one a chance to look across the water and survey the tightly-packed City from a safe distance

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Regent’s Park
I enjoyed drawing its profusion of green spaces – heath, parks, gardens, squares – and the gleam and peace of its canals. Exploring some unknown parts revealed surprises and delights in Wandsworth, Deptford, Walworth and distant Rainham Marshes

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Underground
I’m less keen on the city’s paranoid security and surveillance, its numerous war memorials, its growing abundance of tourist attractions and pseudo-heritage, its traffic, expensiveness and increasing unfairness, and the constant sense that Londoners are being squeezed out as the better bits are snapped up by the unimaginably rich

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Whitechapel Road market
But these drawbacks are offset by many virtues: the presence of the ordinary Londoners, polite, cosmopolitan and tolerant; the city’s grandeur and its cheeky street markets; the feeling of energy and vitality that pervades it

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Piccadilly
Drawing its people, places and things made me look hard, notice, understand and remember them. It was a packed and fascinating experience

The new collection brings to life the city he’s lived in for 60 years, with 400 pages of London loveliness. Here’s a short interview with the author to whet your appetite.

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You can buy London, You’re Beautiful by David Gentleman from

amazon.com or amazon.co.uk

Mooooo

xxx

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