This week: The RA, House of Illustration & London.
12 November 2021
My love of London started almost as soon as my family began living in the South of England. Until then life had been lived near beaches, in very different climates and mainly on air bases. London was a whole new experience. Off we’d go in my mums Triumph Herald, she was fearless navigating the traffic. I still remember the enormity of The Natural History Museum, the scale of Buckingham Palace (squinting at the windows to see if we could see the Queen) and the excitement of standing in Trafalgar Square completely covered in pigeons.
Later, as an art student, I’d still visit Trafalgar Square but not for the pigeons, whilst en route to The National Gallery. I’d spend hours staring at Monet, Rothko and journal what I loved most about the art. I have sketchbooks of that time, stored safely on a shelf, a precious record of young art student finding her way. After A levels and art college it was an easy decision to study my degree in London. At 18 I skipped off to live in a then grotty part of the East End, where our student digs were over-looked by pylons and tower blocks. Location didn’t matter, still, it was London.
I’ve never forgotten how glorious London feels as you discover it. Now I’ve made my home in Hampshire I felt a little of that excitement when I travelled up recently after such a long break due to being locked down. So (bearskin-hat-wearing drum roll) this weeks Friday 5 is all about London. 5 things to do and 5 of my most popular London art prints.
5 things to do in London (with a creative bias!)
1. Every year I go to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, I’ve been going for years and years, usually with a friend or two for a treasured day out. If you’re wondering why I’m writing about the summer exhibition in the autumn, the timing this year has shifted due to Covid restrictions. This year Yinka Shonibare RA coordinated the Exhibition under the theme ‘Reclaiming Magic’. If you want to visit it runs until 2nd January, there’s still tickets available.
2. The National Gallery has been an incredible source of inspiration in my years as a creative. I have a picture of me standing outside on my first visit, ripped jeans, baggy jumper, sketchbook in hand. It was overwhelming at the time and I snuck off outside to feed the pigeons, catch my breath and find some of that fearlessness of my mothers. You see, that visit to the National Gallery determined my career and that was a very big deal to 16 year old me who had never seen such a volume of paintings before. It led me to a path of design, colour and creativity, writing this post has reminded me of that moment. My favourite paintings in The National are Bathers at La Grenouillère and Water-Lilies (both in room 41) by Monet.
3. After art there’s always afternoon tea and, local to The RA, is Fortnum and Mason. I’ve tried The Ritz, The Wolsely, The Savoy and a few others, mainly due to the joy of my friend Pat regularly visiting from the USA. You can explore Afternoon Tea at this website where all the options and London locations are detailed.
4. An ambiguous one…Tell me you’re an art student without telling me you’re an art student…click here for more. Oh the joy of new pens, pencils, fresh paper and inks. London visits always mean armfuls of supplies and this is one of the best locations in London for all art and craft lovers.
5. Finally, one of my favourite places is House of Illustration. It’s on the move, an exciting evolution, not least because architects Tim Rolands (Wilton’s Music Hall and Hackney empire) are transforming New River Head into The Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration. You can find out more on the link above.
5 best selling London art prints
As promised, here’s my 5 most popular London themed art prints. Instead of linking each individually here’s a link to all my London themed products. The collection is constantly evolving and I’ve some more pen & ink London studies going live after Xmas. I’ll start sending an email newsletter in the New Year, so please do sign up. You can access the newsletter sign up box at the bottom of each page, or on the homepage of Natalie Ryan Design.
Well, that was this weeks Friday 5. Thank you for reading. I’m just home from Dublin and trying to get my latest skyline finished and write an Irish inspired Friday 5 next week. I’ll let you know how it goes!
Have a good week all, thanks for reading and, if you made it this far, you can use code LONDON20 for 20% off anything from the London collection.
See you next week 🙂