Category Archives: Lanark Heritage

Trafalgar Place, South Vennel, Lanark

It’s easy to miss but if you look up at the front of the building where Bernard’s Wynd meets South Vennel, you’ll see a carved stone stating ‘Trafalgar Place’.

I only spotted this when I recently began a series of small sketches of Lanark to mark the month long Instagram drawing festival that is #inktober.

Trafalgar Place, South Vennel, Lanark

I hadn’t twigged that there were official prompts for the Inktober drawing themes! I simply began my own theme of drawing the views of Lanark that had caught my imagination – there are so many details that I want to pause a moment over by making a sketch.

Back to the name ‘Trafalgar Place’ on this street sign. The name doesn’t show up on the National Library of Scotland map of Lanark 1847-95 South Vennel. The photo below is a screenshot from the maps.nls.uk website, link above.

I did a search for ‘Trafalgar Place Lanark’ and came up with the ancestry website which records ‘Thomas Marshall Braidwood, born Trafalgar Place, Lanark, 1883-01-06, died 1967’. Braidwood is just up the road from us so a local Lanark connection. Thomas’s parents were Adam Braidwood (born in Douglas 1855) and his mother was Jane Marshall.

I find it interesting to look into the meaning of the names too so I looked up:

TRAFALGAR‘ this word is derived from ‘Cape in southwestern Spain, from Arabic taraf-al-garb “end of the west,” or taraf-agarr “end of the column” (in reference to the pillars of Hercules). The British naval victory over the French there was fought Oct. 21, 1805; hence London’s Trafalgar Square, named in commemoration of it.

Here’s the corner of the building where it meets Bernard’s Wynd. On the map at that time it was called St Bernard’s Wynd.

Corner of Bernard’s Wynd and South Vennel

Perhaps there are Braidwood families that can research further into the history of this building but that is as far as I got…days are short and I want to catch a daily sketch.

I will sign off with another view from South Vennel – here we see the rooftops of the old Lanark Grammar School on Wellgatehead.

Old Grammar School, Lanark – over the roof tops from South Vennel

If you would like to see my drawings unfold each day this month, I am posting them on Instagram @drawingthestreet. I will post a few of them as I go along over here too.

Thanks for reading,

Ronnie

The Tolbooth: from Jail to Jewel of Lanark

The Tolbooth, Lanark

A recent post by Tolbooth Arts has prompted me to look a little further into the history of this significant Lanark landmark. It sits at the bottom of the High Street with the Provost’s lamp (from the 1890’s) standing outside. The lamp is a relatively recent feature in it’s history – the third of the Tolbooth buildings to have existed on this site since the early 1400’s.

Lanark is one of Scotland’s oldest Burghs and back in the 12th century it was a favoured hunting ground for the Kings of Scotland. Over the years, the town has been a creative hotspot for shoes, gloves, saddlery, weaving, oil, and knitwear whilst the Lanark markets traded in livestock and agricultural implements. A walk through the Closes of Lanark give a great insight into the layers of history woven into the town.

Information boards on the wall of McKenzie’s Close – drawings by Kirsten Harris Art

The Town Council would have had a Council Chamber – a ‘Tolbooth’ in which to hold their meetings and to serve as a base for their officials, the treasurer and town officer. The Tolbooth served as a point for collection of customs or charges imposed on all goods brought in to the town for market. The ‘Customer’ or ‘Tacksman’ based here had control of the weights and the ‘Tron’ or public weighing machine located nearby.

The first building referred to in Lanark records was located approximately on this site and is thought to have been built around 1400. By 1571 it was in a ruinous condition and was replaced by a building which survived until 1778 but the Council didn’t have the funds to repair it.

‘Gentlemen of the Tolbooth’ – Volunteers Ernest, Tom and Millie, Christmas 2019

However, this was when the “Gentlemen of the County” stepped in and offered to pay for erecting a new building entirely at their expense with the one condition that they were allowed to use the Upper Hall as a gathering place. This is the Tolbooth building that exists at present.

There is plenty more on the history of the Tolbooth on the Discover Lanark website and on the Canmore website.

In 2017 The Tolbooth Trustees embarked on the redesign of the ground floor unlocking the buildings potential as a gallery, heritage centre and arts hub open daily manned by a dedicated group of volunteers. For the past few years that I have been living near Lanark, the Tolbooth has indeed been a creative hub and I’ve been delighted to have participated in several exhibitions with many happy hours spent sketching inside and out – a few examples follow:

Streetscape opposite the Tolbooth
Richard Price giving a pottery demonstration in the Upper Hall
Lanark’s town pigeons settling down to roost for the night

The Tolbooth Christmas shop has been a growing success over the past few years and artists are well underway preparing new work for this year’s stock, myself included.

Skilled creative work of local artists in the Christmas Shop
Lanark’s town Crier taking shelter in the Tolbooth, wearing Thomson Blue Tartan

Look out for the next exhibition – ‘Clyde Valley – Garden of Scotland’ coming very soon to the Tolbooth – more on that in the next post!

In the meantime, I will sign off with this drawing of the Tolbooth Lanark. It will be in the Christmas shop from November, or get it touch with me or a volunteer at the Tolbooth. Price is £225 framed (20 x 17in) which includes a commission towards the upkeep of this fantastic community hub.

Thanks for reading, Ronnie

A Wynd up For Bernard

Now is that a ‘wind up’ as in a coiled spring or a ‘wind up’ – as in your sails? With all the subtleties of the English language it’s easy to to get confused but here a ‘Wynd’ has yet another meaning – a narrow passageway or a Close as they are called here in Lanark.

Bernard’s Wynd is one of Lanark’s twelve Closes which map the course of the town’s circulation between the High Street and the surrounding streetscape. Back in 1777, it was declared a common passage to the South Vennel. From the High Street, (south side) all that you see is this narrow entrance.

Located between the Horse and Jockey and Hays Travel – you will see that the entrance is set back – revealing a small slice of the old building which marks the line of the earlier street frontage and one of the locations that William Wallace lived in during the 13th Century.

If you look around the back and look up, you can see medieval window arches within the masonry, which thanks to Kirsten giving me a timely nudge, I’ve since been included on this drawing!

Bernard’s Wynd once led to the factory of Bernard Bell, principal shoemaker in the Royal Burgh. It was during the 17th and 18th centuries that Lanark’s biggest and richest craft was shoemaking – helping to meet the demand for stout footwear in Glasgow.

When I began planning this exhibition, I was going to work on A4 size boards but this format wasn’t ideal to capture the feeling of being enclosed in a narrow space. It was time to rethink.

No window arches on this format!

The proportion 2:3 was a better fit to express the narrowness of these Closes and to include some of the details that remain as clues to the past, like the fragments of window arches.

Work in progress – building up layers of colour

I wanted to simplify the work to highlight the Close itself – they have been fitted with new lighting to invite movement through them in safety – they are such important aspects of the town’s history and newcomers to the town may not realise their significance.

Back to work in progress. There are a few tips to help guide yourself along – one of which is to hold the image up in a mirror and view it in reverse, or to stand back and view it from a distance but a great tip is to flip the image into black and white to check the tonal composition is balanced.

As I sign off, I’m really happy to know that all the artwork prepared by Kirsten and myself is now framed and ready to hang over the weekend ready for open doors on Monday 26th April 2021.

‘Close Encounters’ is on at the Tolbooth Lanark until 8th May. All very welcome – please wear a face covering and keep to social distancing – thank you, and thanks as always for reading.

Ronnie

Close Encounters

The Closes of Lanark remind me of the ‘Snickelways’ of York.  ‘Snickelway‘ is a word conjured up by Mark W. Jones in his 1983 book A Walk Around the Snickelways of York and it weaves together the words snicket, meaning a passageway between walls or fences,  ginnel, a narrow passageway between or through buildings, and alleyway, a narrow street or lane’.

York has many of these pathways, mostly medieval and often with unusual names such as Mad Alice Lane and Finkle Street. Lanark too has twelve remaining ancient pathways called ‘Closes’, hiding in plain sight along both sides of the High Street.

Wide Close on Bloomgate, Lanark

Wide Close, Duncan’s Close and Hunter’s Close show up on my drawing of 1-51 High Street (shown in full here).

The Closes map rich histories with their narrow footprint, architectural fragments and tiny details such as this doorbell in Shirley’s Close.  

Miss Shirley Baxter – door bell in Shirley’s Close

The Closes have recently been part of a project by Discover Lanark to make them safer, brighter and more welcoming and the latest stage in this project has been to install a series of information panels highlighting the history of each Close.

Kirsten Harris has brought layers of Lanark’s history to life with her wonderful artwork which fires up the imagination with the stories held deep within each of the Closes. You can read more about Kirsten’s creative process with the panel artwork here.

Meanwhile, I’ve been working on ‘the backs’ – the parts of the Closes where clues remain to remind us of what’s been before as part of ‘Close Encounters’, an upcoming exhibition at The Tolbooth, featuring the history of Lanark’s Closes as well as the framed originals of Kirsten’s Closes artwork.

Kirsten recently posed a question: ‘Has Covid changed your artwork?’ This was such a rich question that I’m still reflecting on the answer but this project shows me that it has definitely changed my work.

Previously I would have reached for my fine-line mapping pen but this time, I went for a broad brush to paint lots of yellows and golds to reflect my need for brightness and light after a Covid winter. I drew with the ink dropper straight onto the prepared surface with a feeling of urgency and that to hesitate is a not an option.

For this series of twelve rear views of the Closes, I had a strong idea from the outset and did a rough concept sketch below. A bright optimistic background as foundation with grimy and colourful history overlaid, keeping a narrow strip of light to draw your eye into the close.

I chose a tall, thin 2:3 format to reflect the vertical feel of the Closes – to walk along them you can almost feel the stones close in as you pass through centuries of witnessing walls.

With the composition sketched out I then added ink washes of Payne’s Grey on top of the prepared surface to give an underpainting toned with yellows and greens – the colours of April.

Underpainting the rear view of Wide Close

The next part was me having fun working in some gorgeous rich pastel colours (by Unison), responding to the tones beneath and keeping in mind the title of the exhibition ‘Close Encounters’. Passing through these narrow Closes can be a little intimidating on a dark dreich day, but they are far from dead ends and it’s worth looking up.

It’s a great help to check that there’s a good balance of tones by taking a black and white photos as you go along.

Finally, it’s always good to take a step back and the bench outside the back door is a great place for an overview. More about the Closes next time. As always, thanks for reading.

Ronnie 🙂

Open doors at the Tolbooth Lanark

It’s a great feeling stepping back into the Tolbooth, Lanark and greeting old friends at last. Even better to see the walls vibrant with colourful work by local artists as the exhibition ‘Over the Rainbow‘ gets underway.

Judith Wilson, winner in the Amateur category to the left and a poster of the winning entry in the professional category on the easel.

The exhibition is running from 17th July to Saturday 8th August 2020 and shows the results of the creative competition launched by both the Tolbooth Lanark and the Lanark Community Development Trust ‘to bring colour and joy to the lives of local people during lockdown’.

The range of entries includes paintings, drawings, photography, sculpture and ceramics. There were three categories:

Junior category: all entrants receive an art set.

Amateur Artist: winner Judith Wilson (see photo above)

Here’s the winning entry – it looks familiar! I wrote a little about this in an earlier blog post here. I’m delighted to say that the artwork ‘Finial, Spires and Chimneys’ will go on sale in a silent auction and all proceeds will go towards a charity of the artist’s choice – I’m very happy to say that Scottish Wildlife Trust will be the beneficiary – looking after our natural world is something important to us all. Here’s the link to the Tolbooth where you can place a bid by message.

I know that quite a few readers live a long way from Lanark so here are a few photos to show you around the exhibition.

‘Hope is the thing with Feathers’, by Veronica Liddell, top left

I’d love to promote all the artists on show here, but I didn’t take a note of all the names. However, there are a few artists that I know and I will share their web details so you can look up their work.

All these works were produced during the peak of lockdown and each one is a tribute to the effort that went into producing the work. There are many more artists that didn’t manage to enter the competition – we were all thrown into different situations and some had too much on their plate to even think about lifting a brush….

A small selection of the art on display

Veronica Liddell is an established professional artist based in Corra Linn Studio, New Lanark. Her delightful artwork (top left) is titled ‘Hope is the thing with feathers’ and proceeds will be donated to the Scottish Ambulance Service.

Artwork by Richard Price

Next along is another firm favourite by Richard Price – artist and ceramicist working in Thankerton. The two following examples are beautifully evocative pieces which express lockdown with clarity and poise: the drawing ‘Carrying Hope’ and the ceramic ‘Burden of Hope’.

Carrying Hope by Richard Price
‘Burden of Hope’ by Richard Price

Now for another Mr Price…this one is by Nathan, studying at Dundee Art School. If I was Richard I would be very proud of him! If I was Nathan I would be feeling quite pleased with myself. The photo is nowhere near as good as standing directly in front of this colourful creation.

Sculpture by Nathan Price

Here we have a wonderful lighthearted line up of Scottish Coos! These are painted by the talented Rosie Mark living just down the road from me in Crossford. Rosie excels in animal portraiture although I know she is pretty good at people portraits too.

‘Rainbow Parade’ by Rosie Mark

Now we have the ethereal work of Evelyn McKewan. Evelyn’s work feels like a breath of fresh air. She has also agreed to include it in the silent auction in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. If you see any of these works and want to place a bid – just head over to the Tolbooth page and message them.

Kirsten Harris is an established artist whose work has a richly symbolic meaning. Her work features her passion for wildlife, horses and birds – check out her website for the breadth of her talent. I love her work in pen and ink – this entry is titled ‘Nineteen Corvid’s’ and proceeds will be donated to the Tolbooth.

‘Nineteen Corvids’ by Kirsten Harris

Just to wrap this post up with a few more images – not very well focused but just a flavour of the variety on display.

Look out for the next Tolbooth exhibition which will follow this one: Coasts and Rivers.

In the meantime, thank you for reading, stay well

Ronnie 🙂

An Unusual Lanimer Day

Roofscapes above the High Street when viewed from inside the Tolbooth.

Today, Thursday 11th June 2020, would have been Lanimer Day, a celebration and a week-long town party that has taken place in Lanark since 1892. You can read more about the history of the activities on the Lanark Lanimers website. It’s a rare day in early June that the streets of Lanark are not filled with one of the UK’s largest processions for the crowning of the Lanimer Queen and many other ceremonial activities to celebrate the Royal Burgh.

I’ve hardly been into Lanark these last 12 weeks of lockdown so urban sketching has been replaced by orchard sketching (more on than another time) but I didn’t want the day to pass without acknowledging this significant week or without giving some acknowledgement to a few of the traders who show up in my sketches and who must also be finding it challenging to adapt and keep going.

View of St Nicholas’s church tower and the side of Jacks Ironmongery shop from Broomgate.

These are simply some examples from my 2019 sketch book where I can show a small taster of the work that goes on in Lanark by others. Let’s start with some of the work by a Scottish potter Richard Price. This one’s for my Stokie Pals; I can’t help but admire potters wherever they are!

Some of Richard Price’s pottery on display at Lanark Tolbooth
Richard Price giving a demonstration at the Tolbooth in 2019

If there is work going on then there has to be a rest in between. Ernie, Tom and Millie sketched whilst on duty during the Tolbooth Christmas exhibition.

Included in the exhibition was a wonderful example of a Yorkshire Ewe by the animal portrait artist Rosie Mark who also works here in the Clyde Valley.

Looking outside the Tolbooth window, the pigeons settle down to roost on the chimney stacks.

Now for someone we all miss – our hairstylists! This is Heather at Nelson’s Hair Salon, which is being redecorated in anticipation of opening sometime soon.

Enjoying a cup of tea whilst I sketch Heather at work

Something else that I miss: being part of an audience at a music event such as this one held at Scottish Wildlife Trust visitor centre, New Lanark.

Feis Rois musicians playing at New Lanark

Finally I’d like to include an acknowledgement of the work put in by Ian Wilson Leitch and the Tolbooth volunteers and Kirsten Harris who all worked tirelessly on behalf of so many artists and creators to set up this shared exhibition open to all working in the area. You did a great job!

Here’s hoping that the pandemic recedes and that we can all pick up some of our most treasure threads of our daily lives with renewed enthusiasm.

Thanks for reading and may you all keep well.

Ronnie

Rainbows of Lanark

Calling all Lanark artists! Lanark Tolbooth Trust and Lanark Community Development Trust have put their heads together and come up with a great idea for artists living within 7 miles of Lanark, by holding a rainbow themed art competition.

lanark under lockdown artwork by ronnie cruwys
YMCA, St Nicholas Church, Tolbooth window ,

The competition is to create rainbow inspired images for an exhibition to be held at the Tolbooth, Lanark when the restrictions are lifted.

lanark under lockdown artwork by ronnie cruwys

They have been inspired by the uplifting colourful pictures of rainbows that children have put in their windows spreading messages of hope and thanks to the NHS and key workers.

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Images from New Lanark

I thought I would do something a little different…

I don’t think I’ve mentioned here yet but since last October (until lockdown) I had been attending a weekly drawing and mixed media class at Paintbox School of Art in East Lothian. I’ll get round to telling you a bit more about the classes on another day (they’re great!) but for now I’ve discovered that preparing your surface makes quite a difference to your work.

lanark under lockdown artwork by ronnie cruwys
New Lanark

There are many ways to do this but for the idea I had in mind, I wanted a lightly textured background, for a mostly monochrome drawing apart from the rainbows.

In my mind’s eye, I had a composition of disordered buildings, interweaving fragments drawn very simply, with the emphasis on windows and the rainbow posters. I’ve only been into Lanark twice since lockdown so it felt apt that it was more dreamlike. The monochrome sums up how things feel at the moment and helps the rainbows pop out.

Rough sketch of one of the compositions. This was a bit too congested so I thinned out the final sketch.

I prepared 4 sheets of A3 paper with a coat of white emulsion paint mixed with a dash of blue grey. It gives a chalky tooth for the graphite and a varied flow to ink. I then worked directly on to the paper, starting with one key building placed off-centre and then placed other buildings in response to that one and so on.

This shows the simplified line drawing and the textured background.

I got carried away doing four sheets but I kept finding parts of buildings that I wanted to include. I now have to decide on which drawing to enter or do another one!

lanark under lockdown artwork by ronnie cruwys
Towers of St Nicholas’s Church and Greyfriars
lanark under lockdown artwork by ronnie cruwys
Finials and chimneys above the High Street

The drawings have been cropped into squares – top and bottom sections so you can have a good look.

lanark under lockdown artwork by ronnie cruwys
St Mary’s Church tower, the Girnin Dug and part of the Tolbooth

If you are a professional or amateur artist living in or near Lanark, there is still time to enter – closing date 1st June 2020. I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of colour next month!

Thanks for reading,

Ronnie

lanark under lockdown artwork by ronnie cruwys
Window on corner of Jack’s Ironmonger, Tolbooth and Christ Church

close to Lanark high street

In Yorkshire, they’re called ‘ginnels’ or ‘snickelways’. Here in Lanark, they are called a ‘close’. Lanark High Street has 14 of these narrow openings that weave in and out of the town centre, tracking centuries of movement and trade.

Up until last year, they were dark and run down but the Discover Lanark BID and Lanark Community Development Trust have transformed the High Street’s closes by turning them into features which promote key aspects of Lanark’s history. At least seven closes have been repainted and had new energy efficient light fittings installed.

The next step planned is to install panels explaining the history of each close including information about their names, you can read more about it here.

Six of these closes are featured on my drawing of the High Street, it’s up in full on my website here.

On the opposite side of the street, Wallace Close has been brought to life with artwork depicting key moments of Wallace’s life in Lanark. Perhaps that’s another street drawing for the future!

Prints and cards are available to buy through the Tolbooth Lanark, or from my website.

As always, thanks for taking the time to read,

Ronnie

Lanark Sketches

Girnin Dug Lanark

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.

Coffee outside the Tolbooth

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.

pen and ink drawing of girnin dog 2 castlegate lanark
Girnin dog, Castlegate, Lanark

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!

Close up of the Girnin Doogie
Just the one sketch of New Lanark so far…

Thanks for reading and hoping to see one or two of you at the exhibition.

Ronnie

Fifty Streets 3/3

Dog Groomers and Turkish Barber…not to be confused

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.

West Port, Lanark

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.

No 38 Broomgate (middle building)

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!

2-62 Wellgate, Lanark

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.

Three completed drawings ready to scan

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

Small prints by Smith York Fine Art Printers, Ironbridge, of first three Lanark street scenes

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!

You keep me going! Ronnie 🙂

St Nicholas Clock tower from The Wallace Tea Rooms