Monday 21 August 2023

Asteys Row Rock Garden, Wednesday 30 August 2023

 Meet at 11 am at Asteys Row Rock Garden, N1 2BP.

This delightful Little Rock Garden is just off Essex Road, near the junction with Cross Street. It is a short walk from Angel or Highbury and Islington Stations and there are buses running up and down Essex Road and Upper Street

Asteys Row is at the end of Islington's New River walk, but the 'river' has long ago been paved over at Asteys Row although there is a 'canal' further upstream. The New River was built in 1613 by the New River Company as a means of bringing fresh water from Hertford to London. The New River continues down to the New River Head, the now defunct Merlin's Cave pub, and the reservoir in Claremont Square. Upstream are Clissold Park and Finsbury Park as well as the reservoirs off Green Lanes. 

We have chosen a Wednesday as we try to do at least one Wednesday a year and also to organise two outings in August. The adjacent library in Essex Road is open on a Wednesday and has loos. There are many cafes around this area, so a choice of lunch places. 

Local colour on nearby Essex Road includes a good butcher and fishmonger, plus a bath and sanitary ware supplier. There is a rather gruesome taxidermist on the corner of Essex Road and Cross Street. All adding to the local colour. Islington has recently greatly improved the children's playground, adjacent to Asteys Row. The play equipment has great shapes.

Here are some photos which Diane Umemoto took a few years ago of the New River just up from the Rock Garden. Great reflections and ducks.

Sunday 20 August 2023

15 August 2023: Visit to the Victorian Turkish Bathhouse in Bishopsgate

15 artists made their way to the Bishopsgate Victorian Turkish bathhouse.   Like a little jewel box surrounded by modern glass and concrete boxes (and the prestigious Ivy restaurant), the Turkish bathhouse is covered with Islamic-style tiles designed by its architect S Harold Elphick and topped off with an onion domed lantern.    Those of us who arrived on time were able to have a guided look inside the building, kindly taken round by Daryl Pettyfer of Camm-Hooper who run the building as a unique events location.  

Unfortunately, such is the money sloshing round in the City, this little building is threatened with huge development constricting its external space even further.   There is a planning application in to knock down one of the dreary office blocks alongside and replace it with a bigger dreary 24-storey block which will also go over part of the roof of the bathhouse, held up by cantilevered supports.  Images of the vast proposals can be found here:    The Victorian Society is objecting, not least because if this plan goes ahead it will create a precedent for the (dreadful) plans to put a vast building over Liverpool Street Station round the corner.   The Victorian Society's objections are here:     If you would like to object to the plans, the planning application is here    and many individuals have already written in.   Your editor is going to object.   So depressing to discover this when putting together the report on our nice day out in the Bishopsgate Churchyard lane, which is also blessed with an eighteenth century church and St Botolph's Church Rooms,  (selected as a subject by one of our artists).

Our artists took varied approaches to the subjects available.   Some of us focussed on the stained glass in the windows, others the tiles, and (new to us) one artist converted the islamic designs in the tiles and the glass into cross-stitch motifs.  One person took an earlier painting as a base, and teased the bathhouse out of existing tones.   Some of us looked at the buildings beyond and behind.   We all found the little area charming, we had a nice lunch at the pub alongside.

Here we are discussing our work:

We also have one painting of Becket from a sculpture in St Paul's Churchyard from our previous visit.


A reminder that our next date is WEDNESDAY 30 August, when we are going to Astey's Row, Islington, details will follow shortly.

Image below by Diana Marshall

Image below by Chris Baker


Two images below by Christine Khwaja


Two images below by Gafung Wong

 Image below by Gill Steiner


Image  below by Peter Colley

 Image below by Diane Umemoto


Image below by Audrey Rapier

Image below by Sue Lees

  Image below by Priscilla Worley

Image below by Tricia Sharpe

 Image below by Sue Lees

 Image below by Janet Perkins


Image below by Janet Payne (of St Botolph's Church Rooms)

And finally, Maggie Pettigrew's painting of the sculpture of St Thomas a Becket in St Paul's Churchyard



Tuesday 8 August 2023

Victorian Bath House, Bishopsgate

Meet at 11 am on Tuesday 15th August at the Victorian Bath House near to Liverpool Street Station. This is a delightful little building surrounded by tall offices. It is in a pedestrian area, adjacent to a former churchyard.

The address is 7-8 Bishopsgate, Churchyard, EC2M 3TJ and Liverpool Street is the closest underground station. There are also plenty of buses running along Bishopsgate. It might be a bit difficult to find, but persevere, it is there.

Originally built in 1817 it was rebuilt in the late nineteenth century with Elphick as the architect and is now Grade II Listed. Inside there are Arab motifs. 

London's population grew dramatically in the nineteenth century and bathhouses were a way of allowing the population to keep reasonably clean. Turkish bath houses, of which this is one, used hot dry air as a cleanser and were exclusive to men.

The little building is now an events venue and extends underground. Unfortunately I doubt we can get inside, but it is always worth having a go, when we are there.

There is plenty to draw in the surrounding area, once artists have finished their pics of the bath house