Doors might be closed but the windows of The Scrib Tree are free for all to look into when going for a stroll through Douglas. Level 4 lockdown here in South Lanarkshire, Scotland, sees many doors closed but people are finding ways to continue working safely within the restrictions.
‘Around the Corner‘, an exhibition of 16 unexpected views of the historic village of Douglas, is now on view to the town and I’m really pleased to have it on display in this wonderful place.
I know I could put the work to one side and wait till we have the all clear for a proper on-the-wall exhibition but this work sums up the spirit of place that we are in right now – the feeling that better things are ‘imminent’, ‘on the brink’, ‘on the horizon’…. which are all names of paintings in this exhibition.
Just to side track a moment – look at this wee Scrib Tree charmer! He was no help whatsoever in putting up my work! If you read to the end, I promise you a melty moment pup pic….
I think this is my favourite photograph of the window exhibition. Big light cloudscapes behind dark skylines. It shows a little of the drama of this intense historic village.
Here’s a detail below from ‘In the Air’.
From ‘In the Air’ we move down to earth – but not for long….
…Where are these stairs leading us?
‘On the Brink’.
I’m curious to find out where these stairs lead – are they simply going around the corner with another flight out of sight or is there another level that has since disappeared?
Here we have tall chimneys against a dark sky. This is a dramatic building that lies empty – ‘Ready and Waiting’.
All the original artworks featured can be seen on my website.
The hotel above lies empty, ready and waiting – but not this little chap.
Sometimes the long street scenes don’t catch all that I want to include. There are countless vignettes here in Lanark which I’ve made a start on sketching as part of my exhibition ‘Streets of Lanark’ in the Tolbooth from Monday 28th Oct for a fortnight.
I’ve added all these sketches in a new page in this blog ‘Lanark Sketches’. Click over to see them all including some cropped close ups as I know my other sketching friends reading here like to have a good close look.
Of course I had to include the real local hero ‘the Girnin Dug/Dog/Doogie’. Couldn’t decide which was his best side, so drew them all, including a close-up!
Thanks for reading and hoping to see one or two of you at the exhibition.
This is West Port in Lanark, my new Scottish home town which I’m enjoying getting to know as I draw and share my work online.
Since moving here last summer, I’ve drawn six Lanark streets, all of which had something to catch my eye. How timely that the Tolbooth Lanark is kindly hosting an exhibition of my drawings of these streets just as I’ve reached the milestone of 50 drawings.
It will be on from Mon 28th October to Sat 9th November where I will be showing these as well as Kirk Road in Dalserf and a few originals from York, where I grew up.
You have to keep your eyes on the road whilst driving along West Port but it’s one of the key ancient streets – or ports – in Lanark, steeped in history and legend if you scratch below the surface. The town became a Royal Burgh in 1140 so there was plenty going on before this date to be granted this noble status.
I haven’t had much time to update you on work in progress lately so let me skim over the last few streets which I’ve drawn here. They are on my website now where you can see them in more detail. Broomgate (not to be confused with Bloomgate), runs at a right angle to the High Street.
Broomgate is a street which holds a rich and varied history. To focus on no 38, its past use includes a school, a house for the headmaster of Lanark Grammar School (early 19C), a Poorhouse in the 19-20thC and possibly used as a Drill Hall in WW1.
This isn’t a history blog but I do like to record anything relevant for my archive blog drawingthedetail. If you have any knowledge of the past uses for any of these buildings I would love to hear from you.
Living history happens as I draw and I love it when I can record the people who belong to the street. Here on my Broomgate drawing you can see Ainsley from Nirvana Yoga (being followed by a passing rainbow as I drew) and Kym, who runs the Wallace Tea Rooms, spotted for a moment sitting outside with me this summer.
Heading back along the High Street and around the corner towards Wellgate you will discover another street full of traditional colourful Scottish rendered buildings. Gone are the Staffordshire bricks!
If you look closely at the bottom of the chimney stack you can see the initials DW and a date carved into the masonry – 1893.
Spot the smaller proportions/roof line of these older shops below.
As with all my drawings, I scan them at high resolution and have a small number of signed limited edition giclee prints available.
These will be available to buy/order during the exhibition at the Tolbooth or get in touch RonnieCruwys@drawingthestreet.co.uk. More information is available on my website Drawing the Street
Next post I will tell you about my sketches of Lanark that I have drawn just for the exhibition – all being framed at the moment but here is the first one…
My sincere thanks for reading and an extra big thank you to those who have been with me over the last few years!
Drawing the Street turned six this summer. My thanks to all who have accompanied me from the beginning and to those who have followed along the way as something has caught their interest.
With my Newcastle work currently on display in the Brampton Museum and Gallery, I’ve been posting some of these drawings on social media to share it further afield. Having also just completed my 50th street drawn on over 60 metres of archival cotton paper, it seems timely to reflect on how this all began as a post-card sketch.
There’s a beautiful poem called ‘Fluent’ by the late John O’Donohue from his book Conamara Blues. I’ve never forgotten his words:
‘I would love to live Like a river flows, Carried by the surprise Of its own unfolding.’
When I sketched the former Ironmarket post office on to a post card, I had no idea what would unfold. It turns out that I was sowing the seed for an archive of streets, all meaningful to me in some way. This is part one of three posts about this story.
Ironically, it was the limitations of a post card that prompted me to think about a full-length drawing of the Ironmarket. This all took place whilst attending drawing classes run by Staffordshire artist David Brammeld. When considering how long to make the drawing, David’s advice was: “Don’t limit yourself!” Shortly after, our son asked me what I would like for Christmas. I suggested a large sheet of paper and received a 10 x 1.2 metre roll! There was no going back.
I gave no thought as to where this would lead but concentrated on representing the Ironmarket in a way that could be read in future. During my time as a conservation architect, I had always been grateful for old drawings of buildings that showed details which would inform my work. I knew that by drawing a street as a whole, individual buildings could be read in context, such as the shops standing on narrow burgess plots.
The Ironmarket retains a lot of its fine structure and is rich in stories if we pause a moment to look. Drawing is that pause. I choose which parts of my view I want to record – in a way that I hope is also good to look at.
Each drawing starts with a preparatory sketch where I map out the entire street as accurately as I can whilst still keeping it a freehand drawing. I’m always looking at ways to improve my work, whether learning about colour harmonies, shading, light, tone etc but always retaining that close reference to drawing what is there.
This first drawing ignited a great discussion on how the street had changed during living memory and prompted me to draw further streets around the town centre. I held my first exhibition in the library and Drawing the Street was born.
Drawing the Street is a growing entity; it has become more than just sketches of streets. It now contains many memories, some poignant, some funny. As the streets grow, so does my drawing style, evolving to include the things that I see as important – the people that belong to the street, the shops and businesses there at the time, the little details of life such as spotting my old work mates from the roofing contractor Miller Heritage working on the renovation of Mellard’s Warehouse – drawn below.
Although most of my streets are in conservation areas, I like to include the modern infrastructure. These too are part of our surroundings and tell their own story.
As the streets progressed, I stepped up my work on to archival quality cotton paper and redrew the Ironmarket at a slightly smaller scale than the first 2.7m drawing and entered it into the local open art exhibition. It was voted favourite by the Friends of the Borough Museum and awarded third prize – an honour and a great boost to continue. A few years later, the Friends bought my entire collection!
Thanks again for joining me and for reading this far. The streets belong to us all!
I have a big trip quietly planned for Friday 13th September. A lot of time in the car, train and taxi to spend a couple of hours at the Brampton Museum, Newcastle-under-Lyme, but I’m thrilled that my work is to be included in an exhibition ‘Capturing the Past‘ held by the Museum from 14th Sept to 3rd Nov 2019.
The exhibition invites us to: ‘take a trip down memory lane and see our town through the eyes of local artists and photographers. Nothing ever stays the same – our world is constantly changing’. The selection has been taken from the museum’s vast archive of local history and it is a great honour that my work has been included to display.
The Friends of the Brampton bought the entire collection of my original Newcastle-under-Lyme street drawings before I left for Scotland and they are hosting a preview at the Museum on Friday from 2pm.
I was really pleased that the collection stayed together in their birthplace. Six years on, the drawings will reveal how things have changed in the interim.
My drawings focus on streets as a whole rather than just an assortment of buildings enabling the viewer to see them from a wider perspective; how one building relates to another and how the loss of one building affects its neighbours. I created them as a social and historical archive so I am very happy they were retained as a collection for public record in Newcastle. They can be read and interpreted in years to come.
Time now for some new work hot off the press! To celebrate this great moment for me – just over six years since Drawing the Street set out, I have sketched three more buildings of the town, including the much loved Brampton Museum itself at the top of this post.
The street layout at the heart of Newcastle is medieval and I’ve always loved the view from the end of the High Street looking down towards the pinnacles, gables and tower of St Giles’ church.
Looking down at street level, we see a few signs directing us down through the arch, along the very narrow Pepper Street.
I had to include a reference to Cassie and Francesco at Amore Italian restaurant, Pepper Street, where my work was on display for several years.
The third sketch is another feature of the High Street – the Guildhall.
These sketches will all be available to buy at the Brampton as greetings cards and also as signed prints set in A4 mounts at £20 each. There aren’t many as I am only taking as many as I can carry…
To see the full collection of my Newcastle drawings please visit my website Drawing the Street.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Back to the drawing now and more about this next time.
It’s Christmas Eve so this will be a short one. Just wanted to say thanks for all the follows and comments this year and to wish you all the warmest wishes of the season.
Also, some of you sketching fans may be interested to learn about the Society of Architectural Illustration – full of great drawings by architectural illustrators all over the world. I have been working towards joining this society for some time and not long ago sent off a few examples of my work. I’m really pleased to have been elected a member and the Wedgwood Door, Burslem is now my profile avatar!
I will close with a section of St Edward Street, Leek, where last Saturday I had a coffee in Spout (served up in Blue Calico Burleighware – fantastic!) with a great view of the opposite side of this historic street – formerly known as Spout Street.
There’s many a fine building in Bonny Burslem but none with an entrance quite like the one into the Wedgwood Institute.
I recently finished the Wedgwood drawing which I began a few months ago. I picked up the pencil for this one having been influenced some time ago by a poster I bought of the entrance to the Natural History Museum, London, by Alfred Waterhouse.
I bought and framed this poster when I was an architecure student and it’s now on the wall of our son’s flat, an architectural student, thirty+ years later! I still love the drawing and this is what made me choose to spend some time on the Wedgwood entrance with its intricate tile and terracotta details.
I’ve used traditional pigments with gum arabic on some very heavy (600 gsm) hot pressed watercolour paper. I really like the combination of the warm French and English Ochres, against the bright green malachite and azurite. I’m also hooked on using the pigment called ‘Caput Mortuum‘ – it seems to end up on quite a few of my icons!
It has been a treat to pause and spend time on a small part of a street but it only makes me want to zoom in further and pick up on the terracotta work. This is quite a rich subject which I may explore in future having been sidetacked by some of the tiles in Newcastle under Lyme.
Not long ago I received an email from Mr Tom Renshaw who used to live at no 9 Stone Road Eccleshall. Tom had received a birthday card from his daughter which showed the cottages closer to the town centre which I drew a couple of years ago.
Tom gave some insights into the earlier life of some of the buildings – the wooden fronted building used to be a corn merchant, ‘F.Gardner’ and the building next to it a bakery, ‘where we would buy bread fresh from the oven and eat it without butter or anything else’.
When you reach 82, why not celebrate the whole year? It allows me time to wish you a very happy belated birthday Tom and to sign off with a close up of your former home.