Books · Events

Sketching the Skyline and the Whitechapel Gallery – Mindful Art Day

Hi lovelies,

Last Saturday, I did something which I haven’t done for a while; I put myself out there to have some fun. (So what Jam?) I might hear you say. Well, as you can see I haven’t been actively blogging for a while and I truly think that I have been hiding from the world for so long. Unintentionally of course. I love my own company but after a while it became a means of shutting out the world and dealing with my issues, mentally and emotionally, on my own. Anyway, imagine my delight when I came across this event at a lovely new pub which I discovered in East London, The Culpeper.

‘Sketching the Skyline’ (as per the Culpeper Events page)

Taking in the impressive view of the city, guests had exclusive access to our rooftop garden where they drew the skyline from multiple view points. Lead by east London-based The Shoreditch Sketcher, guests were guided on how to build an image on the go, by someone who specialises in sketching architectural structures between meetings, and on the move.

The session ended with a light lunch cooked on our wood fired grill, with sides containing herbs, salads and vegetables fresh from our garden.

I was so nervous going to an event on my own as I wasn’t sure if I remembered how to relate to people again on a social level. It sounds crazy, but aside from going to work, an activity to which I am contractually obliged (and which I am thoroughly thankful for and excited by!) I didn’t really put myself in social situations on my own. I needn’t have worried! Phil (the Shoreditch Sketcher) was so friendly and welcoming and encouraged all of us to look and draw what we could see. Judgement-free and not one giggle at my clunky pencil and heavy handed charcoal renderings of the infamous Gherkin building and surrounding buildings.

My WIP (don’t laugh…too hard!)
The amazing efforts of the group!

Despite an overcast morning, we were able to survey our surroundings from the lovely rooftop garden and settle on our drawings for the morning. A peaceful calm descended over the workshop as heads were bowed and wrists flicked into action with the occasional camera shutter breaking the silence. New friends chattered over the best angles to sketch from and commented on their drawings.

After a great hour of sketching (reluctantly I put my pencils down) we were then treated to a small feast of grilled fish, sausages, vegetables, salads and fresh juices. A delicious end to an amazing day where I met and chatted to so many talented artists. It was not until Phil mentioned it during our later lunch that I considered how mindful an activity drawing and art appreciation can be. Sketching/ drawing/ painting does not leave much room for musing over the past or the future as it largely demands the attention of the artist to be in the present. I realised that I hadn’t doodled or sketched or created in the longest time and how relaxed and happy those activities used to make me feel.

Fresh, delicious food – a lot of the vegetables and herbs were grown in the rooftop greenhouse and garden!

The Whitechapel Gallery

I then made the short walk to the Whitechapel Gallery, given it was a lovely afternoon, despite the constant and very British, threats of rain.  A large part of the Gallery was inaccessible as the displays were being changed but it was a nice way to spend an hour or so.

The first exhibition I came across was the ISelf Collection which is summarised as:

“Contemporary portraiture – both real and imagined – and the relationship between self and other, or between artist, sitter and viewer, is further explored by nearly 30 international artists alongside Zaatari in this display.

Also featuring works by Ida Applebroog, Fiona Banner, Michaël Borremans, Bill Brandt, Brassaï, Don Brown, Gillian Carnegie, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Chantal Joffe, Rashid Johnson, Alex Katz, Mary Kelly, Leon Kossoff, Jim Lambie, Maria Lassnig, Alice Neel, R. H. Quaytman, Man Ray, Wilhelm Sasnal, Catherine Story, Fiona Tan, Wolfgang Tillmans, Luc Tuymans, Paloma Varga Weisz and Gillian Wearing.”

I really enjoyed browsing the collection but there were two paintings which stuck out to me so much that I had to photograph them to share with you. I am not sure who all of the artists are as there was a strange annotation system in place, but there was something really unsettling about them that I stared at them the longest.


The painting by Dinos Chapman in the top left featured a painting of a woman with a less than jovial expression on her face really resonated with me. Why does she look so unhappy? Is it just her RBF (resting b*tch face)? Who is she? I really recognised that facial expression in myself for a while actually which really made me self reflect but also try to understand what the artist was trying to say.

The next painting which really unsettled me was the one of the veiled figure facing the wall. I think this is a really powerful piece which reminded me a bit of the Blair Witch Project in the similarity of the postures. I half expected the figure to turn around. It wasn’t clear whether it was a male or female figure and why they were standing with their back to us. I thought that the use of shadows was particularly effective too. I’m not sure who the artist is (though assuming they are one of the artists I listed above)

What do you think?

Finally, I made a trip to the bookshop (obviously!) and made the following purchases which are great ‘dip- into-and-out-of’ books that are great for dipping in during lunch breaks or on shorter train journeys. I have been struggling with my attention span recently since all of my life changes so short stories and quick reads have been great in re-introducing myself to reading.


*all photos are taken by me!

I hope you enjoyed this extended post – please let me know if you’d like me to share more of these cultural experiences with you. I’m trying to shake things up a bit in this blog!

Jam signature


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