Friday, June 15, 2018

Berlin - Sightseeing

I was given a list of ‘must see’ places to visit when I went to Berlin in April. Here are photos, sketches and brief descriptions of some of them, and if you are heading there too, you might like to check them out.

Berlin-Hohenshönhausen Memorial

A former Stasi prison now open as a memorial. I bought a ticket for a 90 minute guided tour in English for €6. I can’t recommend it highly enough. It is a little way from the centre but easy to reach by tram. A really chilling insight into the darker side of life in the former East Germany. Many of the guides are people that were held there, so the stories are very personal and really resonate.

DDR Museum

The museum is by the river opposite the Berlin Cathedral. Lots of memorabilia from East German family life which on one level seemed to be very like life in Britain in the 1970s! Quite a compact collection and very interactive, including a chance to ‘drive’ a Trabant. Information in German and English.


For me forever linked with the ‘Bourne’ movies. Shops, a main travel interchange and of course, the TV Tower looming over it.

The Jüdisches Museum

The architecture of the building, designed by Daniel Libeskind, is stunning here. It’s like being inside a piece of art. Not to be confused with the Holocaust Memorial and Museum.

The Holocaust Memorial and Museum

The Museum is tucked away under the Memorial which was designed by Peter Eisenmann. Entrance is free but I bought an audio guide in English for €3, which I recommend. A very moving and emotional experience.

East Side Gallery

An outside gallery on the longest surviving piece of the Berlin Wall.

Potsdamer Platz

Big buildings. I think I missed the good bits! Nearby, the Mall of Berlin, a big shopping centre, open until 9pm, Monday to Friday with a food court on the top floor. I found it a handy place to stop off when it rained and to use the loos!

Brandenburger Tor, ‘Checkpoint Charlie’ and the Reichtag

The Brandenburg Gate is impressive both during the day and at night. Checkpoint Charlie less so. The Reichtag is a huge monumental building. Unfortunately I didn’t realise that you had to book well in advance to go inside, so just seen from the outside.


A big department store with a very swanky food court on the top floor with great views across the city. I drew the Gedächtniskirche from the window of one of the coffee shops.

The Käthe Kollwitz Museum

I’ve always loved Käthe Kollwitz’s work after seeing it quite a few years ago in an exhibition of German Expressionist prints. Her bold work is in black and white, mainly drawings and prints, and focuses on the themes of war and hunger. The collection is shown over several floors and also features photographs and information about her life, friends and family, in English as well as German. There are several sculptural pieces too including a life size sculpture of her head. It stands on a plinth so could stand right in front of it and look straight at her.

The museum is in a stylish old house next to the equally lovely Literaturhaus café, where I had lunch of beautifully presented veggie cannelloni in their ornate dining room. Do go!


The sun was setting and the shadows were long by the time I reached here. The only place to sit was a bench placed directly opposite the Hunboldt University building so I tried to capture a little of the scene. Figures in the centre are the people who sporadically stopped to look at a small memorial in the centre of the square, reminding us that this was the site of the infamous Nazi book burning in 1933.


The underground system was pretty easy to navigate. I had a Berlin Welcome card which once I’d validated it, I could travel anywhere within the city. Unlike London, there are no barriers at stations which seemed to make travelling quite simple. Lots of the U-Bahn routes are overground so great views of the city too.

Kaffee und Küchen

Lots of this! Chocolate shops too.


The pink pipes that I first thought were an art instillation but were in fact a way of the utility companies dealing with building work in the city. Each utility has a different colour so I saw blue and grey ones too. For some reason, I found them fascinating!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Berlin - Drawing Museum Island

Whenever I visit a new place, I’m filled with two opposing thoughts. Firstly I want to pack in as much sightseeing as possible, secondly I want to do as much sketching as possible. As sketching requires a certain amount of stillness, striking a balance can be a difficult decision. On a trip to Berlin last month, the hotel where I was staying was in the Spittelmarkt part of the city, quite close to the intriguingly titled ‘Museum Island’ and I had the luxury of a whole day to explore it in my sketchbook.

First stop was Berlin Palace, ‘Berliner Schloss’. Or rather the scaffolding and huge advertising signs which are currently adorning it as is being rebuilt for opening as the ‘Humboldt Forum’. Just like London, Berlin seemed full of cranes and building developments at the moment.

I walked on further to the Bode Museum, which nestles on the end of the island. Handily placed stone seats opposite provided a good view of the imposing building.

It was a lovely hot, sunny day so I stopped for a drink at one of the riverside cafes, where all the music being played seemed to be the soundtrack of my life! In fact, during the whole time I was there, I only heard one German language track and that was a rap song coming from someone’s speaker in the park.

Trying to find some shade where I could sit and draw the cathedral, ‘Berliner Dom’, I perched on a concrete slab in a grassed area to the side of the building. The discovery that the local ants also favoured this spot led to the sketch being curtailed and the swift closure of my sketchbook resulted in the pages sticking together and a slightly torn image.

The last drawing was the old National Gallery, ‘Alte Nationalgalerie’. While I was drawing, a wedding party were taking photographs amongst the grandeur. It was such beautiful weather that I must admit I didn’t venture inside any of the museums that day! 

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Website spring clean!

I've spring-cleaned my website and it is now at
It was designed on the Squarespace platform and should work well on desk tops, tablets and phones.

It is a mix of watercolour illustrations, hand drawn maps and reportage drawings.

A special thank you to Tom Dunkley who took the photographs that are on the website.

Would love you to have a look and I always welcome feedback and comments!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Leaving Crocus Valey

A demolition site in the centre of Croydon has been the home to a pop-up saffron farm for the last two and a half years. The heritage project, initially started with a crowd funding campaign, was kept going by donations and an army of volunteers. It’s been a real community effort led by Ally McKinlay who had the idea in the first place, inspired by the legend that the town’s name originated as ‘Crocus Valley’.

These are the drawings I made on the last weekend before the developers took back the site. All the plants and containers were given away to community groups and schools with local people coming along to collect the rest. Some of the remaining gardening equipment and water tanks are being stored, in the hope that a new, more permanent site can be found in the future. I’m hoping to continue drawing there and follow the progress of the new concrete growth on the site, as four tower blocks take the place of the tiny corms.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

More scrapbook than sketchbook

A few pages from my current sketchbook where I have enjoyed cutting up magazines and leaflets, sticking them down and trying to match the colours with gouache paint. Also a little bit of doodling too. I'm not sure where it is going but sometimes it's good to play!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

#OneWeek100People2018 challenge

Last week, I took part in the ‘One Week 100 People2018’ hashtag challenge organised by Liz Steel and Marc Taro Holmes. I felt that I’d been neglecting people in my sketchbook drawings for a while and thought it would give me a boost and feel more confident drawing them again.

The pages are laid out below as they appear in my sketchbook, which is an A4 Seawhite of Brighton one containing acid-free 140gsm paper. I mainly used Tikky Graphic and Tombow pens, but watercolour crept in for my bonus day on the Saturday, which I added as I wasn’t able to participate on Thursday.

Well worth doing and great to see how other people took up the challenge. See a whole host of images by looking at the hashtag #oneweek100people2018 on Twitter and Instagram. 

Monday 5th March - St. Pancras Station, London

Tuesday 6th March - Drawn from photographs on my phone and a few from M&S Cafe in Croydon 

Wednesday 7th March - London Design Week at Chelsea Harbour

Thursday 8th March - Nothing!

Friday 9th March - Cafe Sketchers at Ethos Restaurant, London

Bonus Day!
Saturday 10th March - Crosse Keys Pub, City of London