There are many reasons to head out into the city with drawing pencils and a sketchpad. The main one being that it makes you look sexy and intellectual even if you can barely draw a stick figure. Another, we guess, kind of good one is that there’s so much brilliant stuff to draw around the city. But what stuff is the best stuff? We asked Anya and Bex, the brains and brawn behind Brixton Life Drawing for their top tips for the best London statues to spend an afternoon sketching.
1. The Landseer Lions, Trafalgar Square
‘These humongous bronze felines are fierce yet extremely beautiful. The artist behind these statues based them on real lions at London Zoo as well as the corpses the zoo supplied him which gives it an added element of creepy fascination. Interestingly, each of the four lions is different and so there is the opportunity to draw each one individually without repeating yourself. The backdrop of Trafalgar Square gives you the perfect opportunity to draw not just the statue, but everything in the background. Have a go at drawing this as a continuous line without lifting your pen off the paper (it’s tricky but helps ease you into the drawing if you’re feeling rusty).’
2. Statue of Nelson Mandela, Parliament Square
‘In London’s Parliament Square, there’s a bronze statue of the former president of South Africa and anti-apartheid activist, Nelson Mandela. The statue is iconic, powerful and, with his arms outstretched, it symbolises peace and freedom. It’s a challenging statue to draw because there is so much expression and raw emotion to be captured in his face. Against a beautiful London backdrop, it’s an opportunity to focus on the face and hands – two of the hardest things to draw! Have a go at drawing this one using two pencils as you would normally hold one: you get a really fun silhouetted double-line effect.’
3. ‘Boadicea and Her Daughters’, Westminster Bridge
‘Featuring Boudicca, queen of the Celtic Iceni tribe, this work is neighbours to Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster and is an iconic London statue. A rowdy pagan queen and powerful warrior, this statue is a challenging one to draw with a lot to focus on and capture. The horses and chariot look like they are frozen in time and, with her spear in the air, it’s a statue that transports you back in history. It’s admittedly hard to draw humans and get the proportions right but this gives you the added challenge of her horses too. It can be fun to warm up by sketching without looking at your paper – it stops you from overthinking and helps you loosen up!’
Brixton Life Drawing runs Zoom classes every Tuesday at 7pm and Sunday at 10am. Brixton Life Drawing. Pay what you can.