Our City Together Creative Challenge

Each week Our City Together will be posting a simple creative challenge for you to try out at home. 

These challenges will provide a fun activity you can do alone or with your whole family and are suitable for a variety of ages to help release your inner artist and creativity. Give them a go, try out something new and then share the results with us #OurCityTogether.

Challenge 15: City Memory Map, brought to you by OpenCity

This week's challenge, creating a memory map, comes from our friends at OpenCity to celebrate Open House weekend.

Do  

  • Explore London - this could be your local area or further afield, preferably somewhere you visit often, or even the route you take whilst exploring this year's Open House Festival over 19 and 20 September.
  • Make a drawing of your walk, creating a personal map of the area by annotating each place with memories of that spot. It could be as simple as a thought you had whilst passing a particular monument, or it could be a recollection of meeting a particular person there. Whatever it is, record it.
  • Whilst you walk, why not stop to gather things too? This might be a fallen leaf, or a receipt from a local coffee shop. You can stick these to your memory map when you get home to add a collage element to your drawing.
  • Once you think you've finished, pause to look at your creation. Are there any final memories you'd like to add, or perhaps you're in the mood to colour? Once you've added any final touches, there you have it: your very own city memory map.
  • If you can't access your frequent haunts right now, why not make a literal memory map, drawing the area entirely from how you remember it and annotating it with anecdotes and drawings?
  • Take a picture of your memory map and share it with us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and tag your post with #ourcitytogether #creativecity, @visitthecity and @openhouselondon.
Create your own memory map

Challenge 14: Make your own fairy wand

Who doesn’t want to try their hand at being a magician? Explore your natural surroundings and find everything you need to make your very own magic wand! Use your imagination... what spells will you cast with your magic wand?

Things you’ll need

  • Cardboard
  • Cardboard tubes
  • Sticks or anything long to make a wand
  • Sticky-back plastic or glue
  • Things to decorate your wand with
  • Coloured wool or string
  • Scissors

Do  

  • Decorate a stick or tube with wool and string.
  • Add natural looking decorations that you have made or found around your home or garden. Perhaps some fallen leaves, a small flower or cut out star.
  • Add your decorations with tape or glue or ask an adult to help you tie on the decorations.
  • Take a picture of your wand and share it with us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and tag your post with #ourcitytogether #creativecity and @visitthecity

Challenge 13: Make your own flower press

We’ve all been enjoying getting outdoors over the last few months and appreciating the wild beauty of nature. Why not try preserving some of that beauty using a homemade flower press? Once you’ve pressed your flowers, you could keep them in a scrap book, or use them for decoration on homemade greetings cards.

Do  

  • Find some pretty weeds that you can pick such as buttercups or dandelions
  • Start with a sheet of card, then kitchen roll. Place the flowers on top and add another piece of kitchen roll and card to sandwich them
  • Add some weight to press the flowers using some flat heavy items on top, books and a chopping board works well.
  • Wait at least a week and then look inside! Take a picture and share it with us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and tag your post with #ourcitytogether #creativecity and @visitthecity

Challenge 12: Song About Myself

Long before the era of mass transport, John Keats managed to get away from it all by heading off for a walking tour of Scotland. He sent home some of his thoughts on the joys of travel in poetic form:  

A SONG ABOUT MYSELF

By John Keats

There was a naughty boy,
A naughty boy was he,
He would not stop at home,
He could not quiet be –
He took
In his knapsack (rucksack)
A book
Full of vowels
And a shirt
With some towels,
A slight cap
For night cap,
A hair brush,
Comb ditto, (too)
New stockings
For old ones
Would split O!
This knapsack
Tight at his back (on his back)
He rivetted close (fastened tightly)
And followed his nose
To the north,
To the north,
And followed his nose
To the north

Do  

  • Imagine you could 'run away' like Keats. Where would you go? And what would you take with you?
  • Write your own short poem about striking off for freedom. You might want to include images of the place you'll go to or of what you'll do when you get there.
  • Film yourself reading the poem, or make a copy to share, together with your images.
  • Share your image or video on @visitthecity on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook with #ourcitytogether #creativecity.

Challenge 11: Erasure Poems

Sitting down to write your own poetry can be a daunting and tricky task. If you want to have a go at writing a poem but don’t know where to start, try using erasure poetry!

Do

  • Using a magazine, newspaper, a receipt, someone else’s poem or passage from a book and choose words from the text to create your own poem. Ask permission from whoever owns the magazine or book first before you start!
  • Making sure that the you remember to avoid the words you want to use for your poem,cross out with marker or colour in the rest of the page so that your chosen words are the only ones you can see. You may want to cut out the words and rearrange them.
  • You can decorate the page or keep it simple.
  • Take a picture of your poem and share it with us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and tag your post with #ourcitytogether #creativecity and @visitthecity.
Erasure poem written from an Oddbox recipe card

Challenge 10: Action! In the City

You may not realise it, but the City of London has featured in some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters. We want you to awaken your inner actor and recreate your favourite scenes from these films. Action!

  • Spider-Man:Far from Home
  • Last Christmas
  • Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
  • Paddington 2
  • Tomb Raider
  • James Bond: Spectre
  • Suffragette

Do

  • Choose your film and your favourite scene.
  • Recreate it! You could act it out, create a still image or even draw it. Make sure you get it on film or take a photo.
  • Share your image or video on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and tag your post with #ourcitytogether #creativecity and @visitthecity.

Challenge 9: Update the look!

Say the words ‘City of London’ and ‘fashion’ in the same sentence and the image of men in pin stripe suits and bowler hats might come to mind. But fashion in the City has always been as diverse and exciting as the people who live, work, and visit here.

We have chosen ten historical figures who we think had a distinctive fashion look. Some were following the fashions of the time whilst others were deliberately creating their own style to project an image. And they all have connections to the City of London. We have described them and their ‘signature looks’ below, together with the fashion trends we think they would be least likely to adopt today.

But what do you think they would wear? Your challenge is to choose one and update their look for the 21st century.

Ann Fanshaw

Acted as Lady Mayoress when her father,a City merchant and widower, was Lord Mayor of the City of London from 1752-53.

Signature look: Haute couture. Fanshaw owned the spectacular gown above. In a style known as a ‘mantua’ it is made of Spitalfields silk – the equivalent of shopping local today! Bespoke designs, including barley and hops, are woven into the cloth as emblems of her father’s brewery business.    

Least likely to wear: a onesie

Mantua © Museum of London

Olaudah Equiano

Writer and leading anti-slavery campaigner. Lived for a time in the City of London.

Signature look: Well-groomed. An engraving of Equiano, also known as Gustavus Vassa, appears at the front of his autobiography, published in 1789. It shows him dressed in a smart coat, waistcoat and white linen shirt, with a cravat knotted around his neck.

Least likely to wear: distressed jeans

Elizabeth Fry

Prison reformer and humanitarian worker. Lived in the City in the early 1800s and regularly visited female prisoners in Newgate Prison.

Signature look: Modest. As a Quaker, Fry’s clothes were plain and simple in muted colours such as grey, brown and olive green. They were loose fitting with little skin showing. She always wore a white muslin cap.

Least likely to wear: a PVC mini skirt

Samuel Pepys

Secretary of the Admiralty and MP, best known for his diaries which include an account of the Great Fire of London.Born in Fleet Street.

Signature look: Showy. Pepys wrote that he found it hard to enjoy himself one evening with friends when he was not dressed as elegantly as usual! He hired a silk ‘Indian gowne’ in a dark gold colour to wear for his portrait and wore a fashionable periwig.    

Least likely to wear: tracksuit pants

Elizabeth I

Queen of England, Wales and Ireland. Greeted enthusiastically by the crowds when she rode into the City of London after her coronation in 1559.

Signature look: Bling. Elizabeth’s fashion motto today would be ‘dress to impress’! She wore magnificent gowns made of the finest fabrics, embroidered with gold and silver thread and decorated with jewels. She accessorised with earrings, brooches,necklaces and finger rings.

Least likely to wear: a little black dress

Richard Whittington

City of London merchant and Lord Mayor of the City of London three times between 1397 and 1419. Inspiration for the story of Dick Whittington and his cat.

Signaturelook: Classy. In the past only royalty and the nobility could wear some luxury fabrics. As a wealthy merchant, Whittington could wear fine woollen cloth, velvet and some animal furs. He may have worn fashionable shoes with pointed toes, known as ‘poulaines’!

Least likely to wear: trainers

Boudica

Queen of the Iceni people and freedom fighter. Burnt the first Roman City of London to the ground in 60 AD.

Signature look: Warrior Queen. Boudica is likely to have worn long woollen tunics and cloaks. Native Britons loved bright colours and wove stripes and checks into their cloth. As a queen Boudica would have worn chunky gold, silver and bronze jewellery.

Least likely to wear: a pussy-bow blouse

Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson

Naval commander and national hero. Awarded the Freedom of the City of London in 1800 and buried in a tomb at St.Paul’s Cathedral.

Signature look: Military. As an officer in the royal navy, Nelson wore a fitted black-blue (navy blue) jacket with epaulettes made of gold thread, and a two-corned hat called a ‘bicorne’. On formal occasions he wore the various military decorations he had been awarded.

Least likely to wear: a baseball cap

Diana, Princess of Wales

Mother to Princes William and Harry.Married Prince Charles in St. Paul’s Cathedral in 1981.

Signature look: English rose meets Hollywood glamour. The young Lady Di favoured blouses with high frilly collars and pearl necklaces. As she developed her own style, Diana became known for her sparkling evening gowns, which were often one shoulder and sometimes slit skirt.

Least likely to wear: biker boots

Oscar Wilde

Poet, playwright and critic. Tried at the Old Bailey in 1895 For ‘gross indecency’and briefly imprisoned in Newgate Prison.

Signature look: Flamboyant. Wilde declared that, ‘You can never be overdressed or overeducated.’ He had theatrical tastes in clothing, from velvet smoking jackets, to silk stockings and ties, woollen suits in loud checks and fur lined coats. His signature accessory was a carnation in his button-hole.

Least likely to wear: beige

Do

  • Draw a picture or dress up as your chosen person in today’s fashions.
  • Recreate their look from your own wardrobe or dressing up box – or raid those of other people in your household (with their permission, of course).
  • Don’t forget to accessorise your look with jewellery, hats, bags, shoes, hairpieces,belts, ties, gloves, scarves, sunglasses – whatever you can find around your home.
  • Take a photo of yourself or of your drawing. Share your image or video on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and tag your post with #ourcitytogether #creativecity and @visitthecity.

Find out more about London fashion through the Museum of London's Fashion Alphabet.

Poulaine © Museum of London

Challenge 8: City stories

The City of London was founded by the Romans almost 2,000 years ago. If cities could talk, imagine all the stories it could tell!

This is your chance to use your imagination and write or draw a story set in the City of London in the past. We have lots of ideas to get you started.

First choose one character, one place,and one object from the list below. They don’t have to be from the same time in history. Perhaps your character finds a magic object that transports them backwards or forwards in time?

If you want to have some fun, why not use a set of playing cards to help you choose? Take 4 cards with the numbers 1-4. Shuffle them and place them upside down. Whichever card number you pick is your character. Do the same for the place and object.

Characters

1.   Roman acrobat: A highly skilled young person who entertains audiences in the amphitheatre. They could have travelled from anywhere in the Roman Empire including North Africa.

2.   Tudor apprentice: A teenager learning a trade such as making clothes, shoes or saddles, or training to be a carpenter, blacksmith or builder. They play games in the street in their free time.

3.   Victorian mudlark: A poor child who searches for objects to sell in the mud beside the River Thames. They might find bits of coal, rope, bones, iron or copper - and dream of finding treasure!  

4.   Civil Defence Service (CDS) worker:A volunteer who protects Londoners during WWII. They could be a fire-fighter,an Air Raid Precaution warden or an ambulance driver.

Tip! Roman Londoners lived from around 50 AD– 410 AD, Tudor Londoners from 1485-1603 and Victorian Londoners from 1837-1901. World War II lasted from 1939-1945.

Places

1.   St Paul’s Cathedral: Old St Paul’s Cathedral was built by the Normans and destroyed in the Great Fire of London. Today’s Cathedral with its famous dome was completed in 1710. It survived bombing raids during WWII that destroyed many surrounding buildings.

2.   The Guildhall: Used as a civic centre for the City of London for almost 600 years. Today a curved line of dark stone on the Yard outside marks the site of the Roman amphitheatre. Here over 10,000 spectators could watch entertainments including gladiator fights!

3.   The Royal Exchange: Founded in Tudor times as a trading centre for City of London merchants. Today’s Exchange is close to the site of the Roman Basilica and Forum. These were avast civic centre and a huge square used for public meetings and an open-air market.

4.   London Bridge: There have been several London Bridges since the first was built by the Romans. The most famous is Old London Bridge which stood for almost 600 years. In Tudor times it had houses and shops on it and public toilets emptying into the Thames!   

Objects

Oil lamp © Museum of London

1.   Oil lamp: Used by wealthy Roman Londoners to light their homes. It was filled with expensive olive oil through the hole in the centre and had a wick in the spout.

Moneybox © Museum of London

2.   Moneybox: Often used by Tudor apprentices to save their tips from their master or mistress’s customers. It had to be smashed to get the money out!

Lantern © Museum of London

3.   Lantern: Used by Victorian police constables to light their way in dark streets and alleys. Known as a ‘bull’s eye lantern’because of the bulging shape of the glass.

Unexploded bomb © Museum of London

4.   Unexploded bomb: Hundreds were dropped from German planes during air raids in WWII. Called incendiary bombs because they were designed to start fires.     

Do

·        Plan your story! How will it start? Will it build up to an exciting or dangerous event for your character? Or a funny or happy one? How will it end?

·        Decide whether you will write the story about the character (3rd person) or as if you are the character (1st person).

·        Make sure that you include the place and object in your story.

·        If you are stuck for an opening sentence, use one of our story starters below.

·        If you would rather draw your story, divide a piece of paper into 6 boxes. Draw one picture in each box.

Tip! You might want to find out more about some of the characters, places and objects before you start writing. Look on the Inspire section of our website or go to the Discover section of the Museum of London site.

Story starters

·        The tall outline of St. Paul’s Cathedral loomed out of the mist, dark and massive...

·        A loud noise shattered the peace of a summer’s evening in the City...

·        Have you ever wondered what you would do if your greatest wish came true?

·        Today had not started well...

·        Snow fell softly, covering the City streets in a white blanket...

·        No-one could ever have predicted what happened that day...

When you have written or drawn your story take a photo of all or part of it. Or make a video of you reading it aloud – you don’t have to show your face! Share your image or video on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and tag your post with #ourcitytogether #creativecity and @visitthecity.

Challenge 7: Ready, Steady, Roman Cook

The City of London was originally a Roman city, founded as a port trading in all sorts of exotic goods from the Roman Empire. What kind of dish can you make with these typically Roman ingredients?

Do:

Choose what you want out of this list of Roman ingredients and make a dish. Film yourself making it or take a picture of the finished thing.

Seasoning:

  • peppercorns
  • salt
  • honey
  • Thai fish sauce (standing in for the Roman fish sauce, garum)

Seeds:

  • sesame seeds
  • poppy seeds
  • cumin seeds
  • coriander seeds

Fruit and veg:

  • olives
  • dates
  • figs
  • celery
  • cucumber

Meat:

  • pork
  • lamb
  • beef
  • goat
  • chicken

Dairy/fat:

  • cheese
  • milk
  • yoghurt
  • butter
  • olive oil

Share your image on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and tag your post with #ourcitytogether #creativecity and @visitthecity. Tell us whether it tasted any good!

Challenge 6: City Cocktails

Lockdown has given us all the chance to become master mixologists; now’s your chance to show off your new skills! We want to see you create a signature cocktail inspired by the City of London.

Photo: City of London Distillery

Do

  • Choose your inspiration (perhaps a street name, landmark or a favourite bar. Did someone say Monument Martini?)
  • Come up with your cocktail name and ingredients list
  • Make your cocktail! Either film yourself making it or take a photo of the finished result
  • Share your image on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and tag your post with #ourcitytogether #creativecity and @visitthecity.

Challenge 5: What’s in a Name – The Great City Bake Off

In the last few months many Londoners have discovered a passion for baking. But what if you could only buy bread from one street in London? Crazy, right?

Well, that’s what happened in 1302 when Bread Street in the City was named by the king and all the bakers in London had to set up shop there.  

And it wasn’t just Bread Street. There was Milk Street where cows were kept, Honey Lane, Poultry, Stew Lane and of course the world-famous Pudding Lane, among others.

To celebrate the City’s culinary past, why not share with us some of your recent baking achievements? Just choose a City street name and post a photo. Will it be Cinnamon Street, Saffron Hill, Garlick Hill or Camomile Street?

The choice is yours.

Do

Photo of a loaf of bread

Challenge 4: Bake sAle

This year’s City Beerfest may not be able to go ahead, but there’s nothing stopping us enjoying a drop of the good stuff!

Rather than drink it though, why not try something a bit different - we want to see your most creative beer-based recipes!  

Do:

  • Find or make up a recipe that includes beer in the ingredients.
  • Cook up a storm and photograph the process and the final result.
  • Post your photos online and share your image with @visitthecity on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook with #ourcitytogether #creativecity  
  • Why not also tag the brewery of the beer you used?
Guinness Cake

Challenge 3: Pride Collage

This week, try making a Pride collage, with artist Patrick Bullock, in collaboration with Emergency Exit Arts.

The City of London is home to a wealth of LGBTQ+ history. Within the City borders are located landmarks, venues and organisations linked or actively involved with the LGBTQ+ community.

This exercise is all about playing around with ideas and drawing directly from your personal experiences using materials and objects you have access to in your own home.

Do: Create a photomontage or collage

The techniques of photomontage and collage are terrific methods for leapfrogging over the hurdles that prevent creativity. Not everyone has the skills to draw and visually interpret their ideas but pretty much everyone can use a pair of scissors and then arrange the results. See below for ideas.

Method

First choose a topic/heading from the list below. You can do as many as you want or have time for. Interpret them however you want.

  • Identity
  • Desires and Dreams
  • Gay Politics
  • Coronavirus and LGBTQ+
  • Rainbow
  • Past Present and Future
  • Team LGBTQ+

Tips on how to get started:

  • Choose images, words and anything else you wish to include that are relevant and personal to you. Raid what memorabilia you have, be it photographs, old flyers, cut or tear out picture or articles from magazines or print things from the internet. Gather anything that speaks to you on your chosen heading.
  • Define an area to work in. A good starting point would be what fits onto an A4 sheet, but you can go as large as you want as long as you can photograph it in its entirety.  
  • If something is too precious to cut up but you still want to use it, you can use it as the base or central axis that everything else revolves around. Cut up the other items and arrange around or under it, possibly overlapping.  
  • You don’t have to even stick anything down; the beauty of this is you can keep changing the arrangements, photographing each new one until you find the one or ones you like the best.  
  • If you don’t have access to printed material in your home, you can create a digital collage using something like Paint or Word.
  • A good question to ask yourself as you are creating is “What am I trying to say with this image?”. Or just go with what you feel is the right direction for Pride and enjoy the process!

Once you have a pleasing arrangement, photograph it and share your image on @visitthecity on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook with #ourcitytogether #creativecity  

Challenge 2: Recycled City

Have you ever looked at the many items we throw in the bin and thought, quite literally, what a waste! Has the idea of giving the stuff that you no longer need a better use ever crossed your mind?  Are you missing walking along City of London's streets and admiring some of its majestic buildings? Then release your imagination and free your artistic soul to join us by taking part in this creative challenge.

Do: Recreate your favourite City of London building out of recycled materials you have at home.

  • Pick a City of London building or landmark that you wish to create.
  • Pick out items you have at home or in your recycling bin. These could include paper, card, plastic bottles and containers and household metal packing such as tin cans and foil.
  • Think about the structure of your chosen building, it might help to look at some pictures on the internet, and what materials you might use for different parts of your building. You could try sketching or drawing out your design or just jump straight into making. It’s totally up to you.

These tips below might also help:

  • To make sturdy structures – use plastic bottles, cans and strong cardboard. All can be easily shaped.  
  • To add details – use paper, newspaper, cardboard, bottle caps. Aluminium foil and papier-mâché are good ideas for both structure and detail.
  • Sellotape is not recyclable so best to use a small amount if you have to or if using glue to stick items together – remember that too much glue will make paper non-recyclable.
  • Colouring/painting can also help to add decoration.  
  • Items that may help but are NOT recyclable include – sweet and crisp wrappers, wooden lolly pop sticks, fabrics, wood, plant pots.  

Once you have created your masterpiece, don’t forget to share it with us on @visitthecity and @GreenSqMile on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook with #OurCityTogether #creativecity #recycledcity.  

Creating the Barbican Centre out of cardboard
Image by Mike Clewley

Take a look at last week's creative challenge. It's not too late to share a submission!

Challenge 1: View from Afar

Did you know that the view of St Paul’s Cathedral has been protected for centuries?

Now that we are compelled to stay local, do you sometimes look longingly towards the City?

Can you spot its silhouette? Do you find yourself name checking its buildings?

No matter where you are in London, you can walk up a hill above the treetops to explore the horizon in search of familiar landmarks. Maybe you spot the Shard, Canary Wharf or the Gherkin but more often than not, your eyes will search for the familiar sight of St Paul’s Cathedral’s dome.

We would love to see your View from Afar! From your local park or your bedroom window, in the sun or in the rain, at sunrise or sunset, why not share your View from Afar?

Do

  • Get your phone, camera, pencil or even paint brush, and surprise us with your City View from Afar.
  • Share your image on @visitthecity on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook with #OurCityTogether #CreativeCity