It will all come out in the wash

pen and ink illustration of Eccleshall Staffordshire
The west side of Stafford Street, Eccleshall, waiting to tell a story.

Back to Eccleshall for the sixth street in the ongoing series. When I began Drawing the Street, it was with the intention of adding morsels of history to the buildings which I draw. These are personal histories or facts that I record on my archive blog Drawing the Detail which is accessible for anyone researching their ancestors or simply wanting to know a little more of who lived where, what they did or made and so on.

pen and ink drawing of eccleshall
Black and white under-drawing

Whilst I was working on this drawing, I noticed on ‘Eccleshall Today‘ that someone had posted about a recent visit to Shrewsbury Prison where he had seen a notice about an execution of an Eccleshall man, William Griffiths, back in July 1923. It appears that William and his mother, Catherine Hughes,  lived somewhere on this steet, probably in one of the buildings to the left and given today’s understanding of events, would have probably been sentenced to manslaughter rather than murder. If anyone has any recollections from family or friends about this, I would be interested to hear from you.

egg tempera
Warm ochres for Eccleshall brickwork

Back to the drawing! I always mix up a range of red and yellow ochres and get started with the brickwork once the pen and ink underdrawing is done. I work in thin washes building up the colour so I can get subtle variety in the brickwork.

egg tempera in red and yellow ochre
Applying thin washes of paint to build up colour
red and yellow ochres on Eccleshall brickwork
Warming up the brickwork colours on 14 (right) -22 (left) Stafford Street
Stafford street Eccleshall
Street taking shape in colour
No 8 Stafford Street
Bowcock and Pursaill, solicitors at No 8

I will close on a small finished section of the drawing featuring No 8, Stafford Street. This is now home to Bowcock and Pursaill, solicitors. I smiled when I looked at the 1871 census as I thought it was appropriate that a launderess named Rebecca Bradbury,  once lived here. I am sure she spent her life seeing it all come out in the wash.

Thanks for reading

Ronnie

 

Urban Sketching #HomeSweetHome

pen and ink cartoons dayin my life
Sketching a day in a life

This week, Stoke Urban Sketchers celebrated international recognition as they were granted the status of ‘Regional Chapter’ within the global community of Urban Sketchers.

The group met up for a sketch this Saturday in the New Vic and the group founders, Laura Green and Rhomany Klair Scattergood were interviewed by the Sentinel for a feature as part of the Stoke bid for City of Culture 2021. There’s a taster video of the sketching session here filmed by Rhomany.

Instead of sharing my recent sketches, I thought I would rewind a bit to where I began  keeping a sketch book. A few years ago, it was a wish of mine to become a member of the Urban Sketching community. I loved the confidence and simplicity of sketches from life and how people would share their sketches from all over the world. The range of skill is quite dramatic – from hurried sketches to accomplished works of art.

sketch book diary of my day
Breakfast part one and two

Even with my background in architecture, I still found it quite daunting to sketch out on the street, but that was only until I came across the work of Danny Gregory and his genius idea of Sketch Book Skool.

morning sketches tortoise, dog and cat
Pets and washing on a sunny day

I think I was the eighteenth person to enlist on ‘Beginning‘, that first round of Sketch Book Skool lessons, which was such a brilliant experience. There must be thousands enlisted now.  Danny and his co-teachers taught us all to just go for it – to sketch our days and in so doing we sketch our lives.

For these sketches, I was following a lesson given by Prashant Miranda, recording a day from start to end, my early dip into sketching from life, which is all urban sketching is about.

sketches of ordinary scenes
Peg out washing, sand windows or sketch?
5 easter monday crop 5
At the end of Easter Monday – it’s bubbles!

If you are thinking of joining a local group of Urban Sketchers – it is really informal and you’ll be made very welcome! 

notice board 2
Kitchen Noticeboard

8 loch lomondThanks for reading!

Ronnie

Train leaving Platform One

Letterbox drawing in pen and ink on Stoke station by Ronnie Cruwys
King George Letterbox, Platform One, Stoke-on-Trent Station

Having a sketch book means waiting for anything is a pleasure,  especially somewhere like Stoke Station where there are plenty of subjects to draw.  This letterbox on Platform One caught my eye, marked with the initials GR, for George VI (reigned 1936 to 1952). The evening sunlight was pouring all over it and it was so bright, it looked gilded in places.

Thanks to @Rhomany for recommending Holbein Watercolours and the juicy Vermillion Hue, this is a proper letterbox red!

pen and ink sketch in Perfect Sketch book
Gables and Chimneys over the North Stafford Hotel, Stoke Station

On the opposite side of the station stands the North Stafford Hotel , built in 1847, and listed grade 2*, with its grand Dutch gables and rows of chimney pots.

Pen and ink andwatercolour sketch of Victorian chimneys over Stoke Station Hotel
Chimney stacks, Station Hotel, Stoke-on-Trent

These sketches are tiny – drawn in a palm sized pocket sketch book – one of the ‘Perfect Sketchbooks‘ made up by Erwin Lian. The paper is lovely to draw on and means that is is easy to zoom on an a detail and draw something like a chimney stack, or a chap with his phone and coffee.

pen and ink sketch of a chap in Stoke Station
Coffee to go

There were a few trips down south last month so a few London sketches will follow soon.

Signing off with the best thing to follow a run of townie sessions: a day out cycling on the Welsh coast!

Thanks for reading

Ronnie

sketch of the car at picnic spot in Wales
Time for another brew, but this time after a bike ride at Llyn Tegin, Snowdonia

A Splinter of Light

Visitors Room Ward 7D Fiona Stanley Hospital
Flowers for someone

On the top floor of the brand new Fiona Stanley hospital in Perth, there’s a dedicated visitors’ room complete with all you need to help yourself to a brew or chilled water thanks to donations from the Australian #DryJuly.  A perfect refuge for me who had just arrived from UK and was all at sixes and sevens with the seven hour time difference.

sketch of visitor room fiona stanley hospital
Boiling and Chilled water on tap, Ward 7D

This was an unplanned, hasty visit as my sister had been admitted to intensive care then moved to ward 7D.  She was so poorly.

I unplugged from all social media simply because I wanted to be fully present with my Aussie family.

My sketch book though is a great soother and even these bins became quite a focus when everything else was just too hard to take in. In spite of clear labels, when under stress – no one knows what to throw where!

bins in visitors room fiona stanley
Bins of confusion

Nights alternated between the ward and my temporary Aussie home, looking toward the river and my nieces’ childhood tree house, built to last over 20 years ago, by their Dad.

sketch of the tree house
Childrens’ tree house
sketch of gum leaves perth
Gum leaves

Every other night was spent on the recliner with Anne, on the top floor of the 5 star, state-of-the-art hospital, overlooking the city skyline.  A room with quite a view!

 

Towards the end of my visit, my sister gradually began to recover. Looking out between the blinds, we noticed an unexpected sky treat – a splinter of light which burst into a huge illuminated candle on the corner of Perth’s landmark QV1 building, designed by the architect Harry Seidler.

QV1 buildin Harry Seidler perth
5 minutes to six, a splinter of light on the QV1 building, Perth
splinter of light on harry Seidlers QV1 building
Splinter of light intensifies – 4 minutes to six
burst of light
6pm. Dazzling light on Harry Seidler’s QV1 building, Perth.

These are rare and treasured moments.

sketch of chair in Fiona Stanely hospital
Progress!

Asking to ‘go out’ for a coffee is a significant sign of improvement!

This has been an unforgettable and profoundly moving trip. Anne remains an outpatient under the watchful care of her healthcare team with a large question mark as to what treatment next. We are all so grateful for the extraordinary care, prayers and kindness given to Anne. They are received by all our family with gratitude.

going home
Farewell Perth

This post is for my nieces – with love and thanks, from Aunty Ron XX

A Stately Stoke Terrace

Pen and ink drawing of Fenton, artwork by Ronnie Cruwys
Corner of Hitchman Street and Victoria Road, Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent

Hitchman Street holds some interesting connections for me. When I first saw this red brick terrace, I was on my way to to deliver a framed print of an Audlem street to Williams of Audlem. Not knowing anything about the terraces in Fenton, I looked them up when I got home.

I was surprised to find that the land that these houses were built on was purchased in 1765 by the architect William Baker of Audlem. William Baker (‘the first’ as there were a few more to follow) bought ‘the estate and manor of Fenton Culvert, together with pottery, for his second son William Baker II’ (extract from Stoke Council’s conservation area appraisal). However, it was some generations later when William Meath Baker, the great grandson of the first William, commissioned these terraces. It’s all explained in the conservation appraisal.

William Meath Baker had inherited the Baker Pottery nearby and built these houses (and many others) to provide accommodation on a philanthropic model for the workers associated with the Baker Pottery.

red brick terrace in Fenton Stoke on Trent drawn by artist Ronnie Cruwys
Hitchman Street, Fenton

The Baker Pottery has gone now, but the kilns remain.

victoria-road-baker-kilns-fenton
Baker Pottery Kilns visible from Victoria Road
Pen and ink drwing of Victorian terracotta tile rosettes
Another example of the terracotta tiles on the gables.

Looking up these old threads, it never fails to unearth other connections. When I worked as a conservation architect in Stafford, I spent ten years as part of the team looking after the repair and upkeep of the grade 1 listed Chillington Hall, the south wing which was designed by Francis Smith of Warwick in 1724. Francis Smith was the celebrity architect of the Midlands in his day and it turns out that one of Smith’s pupils was the young William Baker of Audlem, learning from the master.

I’d like to think that an appreciation of good design has been passed down the generations. It certainly  shows up here in these terraces.

To see the drawings in full as well as a few more tile sketches, please visit www.drawingthestreet.co.uk

Thanks for reading,

Ronnie

 

And the Sixth town is Fenton

Fenton is one of the six towns of the Potteries, Stoke-on Trent. It’s the one that wasn’t included in the writing by Arnold Bennett. Many of you will know that Stoke is currently in the run up towards the bid for the City of Culture 2021 so I thought I could play a small part and share some of the architecture of the Sixth Town that may fall under the radar.

pencil sketch of architecture in fenton Stoke on trent
Sketching out brick and tiled gables on Victoria Road, Fenton

Driving along Victoria Road, Fenton last year, a row of dark red brick houses caught my eye and I pulled over to take a better look. It turns out that there’s quite a surprising tale of connections for me behind the history of these buildings but more on that next time.

So, fresh from the drawing board, some work in progress pictures of Victoria Road in the Hitchman Street Conservation area, Fenton.

This is a row of terraced houses built on a philanthropic model for pottery workers towards the end of the 19th century. There is a comprehensive write up about the history of the conservation area here.

Look closely at the gables and there are some wonderful terracotta tile patterns.

The thought that has gone into the design of the fronts is consistent, balanced and although intricate, it all adds up to a really attractive terrace.

pen and ink drawing of Fenton Stoke on Trent
                            Ink on paper underway on 36 and 38 Victoria Road.                                           

Back to the drawing now and more about this next time.

Thanks for reading,

Ronnie

Tile Anorak

I’ve been keeping my eyes out for terracotta tiles which jazz up the fronts of late Victorian buildings and have begun to sketch and record them – their patterns and dates if provided. I had a hunch that they might give me a means to map connections with times and places.

Yesterday I was sketching in Islington, first along the Hornsey Road and then along Upper Street when I looked up and saw the very same tiles that I had sketched on a primary school in Newcastle-under-Lyme.

Terracotta tiles
246 Upper Street, Islington

Yes, I’ve turned into a tile anorak…

However, the above sketches are the tiles which I drew from Hassell St School:

Victorian terracotta tiles, Newcastle under Lyme
Hassell St School, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire

I’d love to know where these tiles were made. One source could be Blashfield’s

Another could be Gibbs and Canning of Tamworth.

Either way, the primary school in Newcastle-under-Lyme seems to have been ahead of the ornamental facade game by a few years – go ‘Castle!

Seen any tiles near you? Send me a pic with the location and any other info and I’ll add it to the log.

Thanks for reading and happy Friday wherever you are.

Ronnie

 

drawing out the best in our streets