"If I'm drawing the pub from life, I like to go in for a drink after the drawing is complete. I think it would feel strange not to go inside after staring at the outside for hours!"
Drawing every single pub in London is thirsty work. There are around 3,500 boozers in Greater London, and already Lydia Wood has chipped away at a fair few: "I'm drawing pubs every week so I sometimes lose count of the exact number I've drawn," she tell Londonist, "Let's just say I’m nearly at 10% of the total!"
While Jack Hines mission to draw every single building in the capital feels like tilting at windmills/high-rises, Wood could well accomplish hers.
As so many stories do these days, Wood's challenge to herself to draw the exterior of every London pub began in lockdown. After requests started coming in on social for her to recreate people's much-missed drinking holes, it struck her: why not draw all of them?
It's not like Wood is rushing through them, either. "I like to take my time sketching each pub, of course, to capture all the architectural details, but also to reiterate my goal of making a dedicated and intricate artwork," she tells Londonist. On average, the smaller sketches take five or six hours — and she does much of the work on location.
"Architecturally, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, just off Fleet Street, was an interesting challenge because essentially, I was drawing an alleyway," says Wood, "The Ninth Life in Catford was also a unique pub to draw as it's a very large painted black, gothic looking pub, with a colourful mural; which was interesting to attempt in my style of drawing."
There are some definite perks to using boozers as muses. "When I went to sketch the King Charles I on Northdown Street, throughout the three or four hours I was sitting outside sketching I had nearly the whole pub of inquisitive locals come out one by one to check my progress," she says, "Prints were ordered before I'd even finished sketching and I was brought out a few drinks too!
"They now even have a print of that drawing up in the pub."
In fact, you'll see Wood's prints up at a number of watering holes across London: "It’s always great to see my work up in pubs. Now I'm seeing my prints up in iconic places such as The Coach and Horses in Soho, that feels surreal and amazing!"
But surely the best honour of all is having her beer mat business cards up on the wall of her beloved local, the Blythe Hill Tavern in Catford, which Wood praises for its excellent Guinness, live music — not to mention the fact it's handily on her doorstep.
"I would say I have a lot of favourites across London though, and I am always open to welcoming more pubs I haven't discovered yet and add them into my list!"
Check out more of Lydia Wood's pub drawings on her website.