Sketching Sydney: The Grounds of Alexandria

November 20, 2015 | Leave your thoughts

Any reputation I might have for being a top Sydney cafe-goer will be completely smashed by my admission that I went to  The Grounds of Alexandria for the very first time yesterday! Shock horror!

The Grounds is arguably the top cafe destination in Sydney. I say ‘cafe destination’ because it is much more than just a cafe, making it a destination in itself, and also because it is in the middle of nowhere – well not nowhere, but its a busy industrial area, so not somewhere you would naturally want to visit. I tried to come here earlier in the year, when Paul was visiting from Singapore, but couldn’t find a park and could see long queues. So this time I went midweek and on public transport! It hard to find the right words to describe The Grounds, it is a great cafe with wonderful coffee and food sets in an 1800sqm of rustic urban garden with a feeling of being on a farm.

Inside (what was once a pie factory – meat pies that is!) there is the cafe, an outdoor seating area, a bar/restaurant called The Potting Shed, a florist, a bakery, a patisserie, veggies for sale, takeaway coffee, and some farm animals – every visit has to include popping in to say hello to Kev.

I turned up at the start of the lunch hour and was very thankful not to have to wait to get a table. I had a leisurely lunch and enjoyed my Avocado Smash and watermelon juice. I then took a little break from eating to do the sketch below, before ordering coffee and cake. Did the food and the coffee live up to the hype? Yes – it was great!

I was sitting in a dark area under a red light and looking through a glass wall. The cafe was dimly lit but the light from outside was bright and changed dramatically during my sketch and in addition there was strong reflection on the glass wall. All these factors made this sketch quite difficult. It was also a very hot day and the interior of the cafe wasn’t air-conditioned, so I was starting to get uncomfortable and subsequently lost interest in attempting to carefully complete this sketch. How often good intentions when you’re sketching on location gets pushed aside because of challenging conditions – and these can occur even when you’re in a very nice cafe! But as always I am happy that I attempted it and it does capture the essence of the place.

It was time to get outside and visit Kevin Bacon – he is the resident pig! I was hoping to do a sketch of him, but this wasn’t the most flattering pose. As I said it was a hot day!

I wandered around looking for a scene to sketch but with the temperature around 35C I was limited as to my options – shade was a necessity. I had another meeting to go to so in the end I was running out of time and had to content myself with this quick ink sketch of the corner near the florist.

If it wasn’t for the fact that The Grounds is so popular (crowded) and hard to get to, this would be a brilliant place to hang out and sketch many many times. If any of my readers have some tips as to the best time to go, I would love to hear them.

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