Waiting for the X164 bus from Newcastle-under-Lyme town centre back to Whitmore was a sketch moment. My car must have been getting fixed at Ryan’s garage – sketched here the year before.
I keep places/buildings that I find interesting in mind to draw later – in this case several years later! Recently I’ve concentrated on some new sketches in and around the town centre and I thought I would start sharing the first of them ‘The Barracks’, here.
Barracks Road was once named Friar’s Road; the name changed in recognition of the Barracks. It was built in 1855, in red brick ‘Italian style’. This was the headquarters of the 3rd King’s Own Staffordshire Rifle Regiment, which assembled annually at Newcastle for training, until 1880.
You can discover more about the history of this building here on the Potteries website. I’m delighted to hear that it received a grant a few years ago towards window repairs.
The Barracks workshops is now home to a number of small businesses and has been popping up on various social media posts.
There is also a heritage project running which is looking for people who have memories of the history and uses of this building – more about that on the Sentinel’s website here.
There’s always been a warm glow from this much loved shop on Shropshire Street in Audlem, a village which can trace its ancestry back to the Domesday book when it was known as Aldelime. It’s located next to the Shropshire Union Canal where you can find a run of 15 locks designed by Thomas Telford to lift the canal by 28m from the Cheshire Plain to the Shropshire Plain.
Williams of Audlem was established 159 years ago – a record to be proud of! Whilst I was living in nearby Newcastle-under-Lyme, I drew most of the street frontages of this fascinating place and recorded them on my website Drawing the Street.
Williams of Audlem stock some of my signed limited edition giclee prints and there are currently two unframed prints of ‘The Square’ in stock, featuring the family run pub and restaurant ‘The Lord Combomere’.
Head north west from The Square and you reach Cheshire Street where you’ll see this lovely red brick Georgian town house set against the backdrop of the 13thC church of St James, listed grade one.
There is one framed giclee print available in Williams as I write (8th Dec 2021). Here’s a close up of the some of the buildings that make up this side of the street.
A few more cropped images from the street drawing below:
You can see this side of the street in full on my website here.
I’d like to close with a wee thank you to Judy Evans of Williams of Audlem who has been a loyal supporter of my work for many years and to pay a tribute to her beloved Dad Derek, seen here putting out the morning papers for the good readers of Audlem.
Aquarius of Burslem can be found high up on the Wedgwood Institute on Queen Street, Burslem in the first alcove dedicated to the month of January. This is the month that shows a woman holding her infant – the symbolic infant new year with hand held high, gazing into the future.
It was 2014 that I took these photos – getting as much detail as I could so that I could draw them one day. It’s only taken me seven years but I am so happy to say that I have done it! I have drawn all the Wedgwood signs of the zodiac and the months and I am really excited to let you know that Barewall Burslem will be selling the original artwork. It felt fitting that the original artwork go back to the Mother Town and hopefully find homes with people who connect with and love this place.
It was back last September that I mentioned this body of work so let’s have a little refresher as to what I did for all my arty pals that read here.
Back in Staffordshire, I chose to work on some really weighty watercolour paper using natural pigments and gum arabic – making my own watercolour paint as I already have a selection of rich earth and mineral pigments.
Pencil sketched images from the Wedgwood roundels and building up using thin layers of pigment washes. The first one here is in English Yellow Ochre, then various red ochres added to build up the mosaic texture.
This is the point where I left them and moved up north.
The blues and greens of mineral pigment – the semi-precious stones crushed up to make colour is so fresh and bright – it felt fitting to use these to represent this mosaic artist’s beautiful work from back sometime around 1865.
I masked out the earlier work to frame the roundel in a deep rich red brick colour, adding texture by stippling on a darker red.
Here’s the full set of the astrological symbols. I added highlights of 23 carat shell gold to the mosaics to catch small sparkles of light.
These are all mounted and ready to fit a standard 12 inch square frame.
Each original artwork will shortly be on sale at £195 each from Barewall. If you are interested in one, please email me at email@example.com or kindly get in touch with Amanda at Barewall Gallery, Burslem.
I have also stocked my Etsy shop with some packs of greetings cards which you can buy here.
Thanks for reading and will post more on the months very soon!
Have you ever looked up at a building and marvelled at the creativity that has gone into it? Have you thought about the artists and makers and the hours of planning and co-ordination spent to pull something like the Wedgwood Institute together? This building must have been a labour of love for so many.
Whilst I was living in Staffordshire, I wanted to draw every last detail of this building simply to acknowledge it was there. I began with the main entrance which you can see in full here.
I had great plans to draw so much more of this building but life had other plans for me. Just as I had got the next phase of artwork underway, we got news of the move to Scotland and so things went on hold.
However, I had already begun drawing the months of the year and the zodiac symbols in the arches above and so at some point I knew I would finish them – I don’t like leaving a body of work unfinished. Besides, I had begun work on some beautiful heavy watercolour paper (Saunders Waterford 640gsm Not) which is a thick as carboard with a rippling texture and a wonderful surface to paint/draw on.
I pencilled in the outline using a compass to contain the astrological symbols.
I had taken photographs of the existing zodiac signs but some were under cover and some had areas of mosaic missing. I looked up old record photos and in places where details were hazy, I used creative licence and painted them to compliment the rest of the images.
The mosaic symbols were made in bright blues, greens and whites against a deep red background. I used ground up mineral pigments of azurite, malachite and the red and yellow ochre earth pigments that I use to paint icons to capture the life, depth and movement of these rich symbols.
This was as far as I got with the zodiac symbols before I began to pack up to move north. I had made some progress into painting the images of the months – about three or four of them… but enough to have me hooked to want to complete, come what may.
Now, almost four years since I made the first sketches of these images, I’m so happy that I can say I have completed this part and will be sharing what I’ve done to complete them over the next few blog posts.
A few months ago, I met up with a couple enjoying a quiet drink outside Merckx Bar on the High Street in Eccleshall. I had just dropped off some prints of Eccleshall High Street into Gallery at 12 and was taking a few photos for the second drawing of the High Street, so I could add some real people to the benches outside Mercks.
From this enjoyable but momentary meeting, I was asked if I might draw the Old Vicarage. I hadn’t seen this building before, but possibly because it was hidden away behind a very tall hedge, with only a glimpse through the gate.
The hedge has since been thinned out so that this handsome, Staffordshire red brick building with rusticated brick quoins, is a little more visible from Church Street. It was built in the Queen Anne style and is listed grade 2.
It’s good to look at buildings from a different angle. It has made a pleasant change to draw the Old Vicarage as a one-off perspective, and I’m pleased to have recorded another of Eccleshall’s listed buildings.
The drawing of 1-35 High Street is also finished, here’s part of it. Limited edition signed giclee prints are on sale at Gallery at 12, the Arcade, High Street, Eccleshall.
I have been drawn back to the Great North Road, this time up in York. The Roman road from London can be traced closely beneath the present day A64, entering York just a little north of Blossom Street and Micklegate and neatly illustrated on the British History Online website (scroll down on the link site for the map).
I mentioned in an earlier post that I went to school in York and Micklegate was my cycle route into town. Of course, much has changed and I see that the first building on the street is now occupied by Bike Shed, hopefully ready to greet the forthcoming Tour de Yorkshire. Brilliant! I will be there in the crowds again this year.
Micklegate is a long street and this drawing is only about a third of one side but I have discovered that there are seven Grade I, 26 Grade II* and 117 Grade II listed buildings in Micklegate alone!
Having made a great journey north himself, my father would often speak of the ancient roads in and around the city and how in the past, convicts would have been taken from York Castle prison along Micklegate, then Blossom Street and out along what is now the A64 to Tyburn, on the Knavesmire. Dad had been given a very old book ‘the Criminal Chronology of York Castle‘ which is a register of all those unfortunate souls executed at Tyburn since 1379 with many awful insights into life and death within the city. Dad passed the book on to me and it’s a sobering read.
Events don’t seem so long ago when I think that most of these buildings would have been extant on ‘Saturday 6th March 1761, when Ann Richmond, a fine young girl, was executed at Tyburn Without Micklegate Bar, for setting fire to a stack and barn belonging to her mistress’. The buildings on Micklegate would have been some of the last that she saw.
I got lost in thought whilst drawing Micklegate. I kept thinking of my parents, John and Mary Sharp (nee O’Donoghue), who lived in York for over 50 years and I took the liberty of drawing them in, looking into Brigantes window – which incidentally is the name of a Celtic Romano tribe – apt for my English dad and Irish mum. Our much loved old Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Arran is included, no shadows of course!
Micklegate holds many names which have gone – the Blake Head is one that I really do miss when I visit York. I don’t like seeing buildings unused so it is great to hear that this is now home to the BlueBird Bakery and the Rattle Owl. With great names like that, I hope they go a long way – best of luck to you!
I gather from the York Press that ‘Plans have also been submitted to the council to excavate the cellar of the property which is believed to be sitting on top of a Roman road, with hopes of incorporating it into the current building design and allowing it to be displayed.’ Exciting! Look forward to hearing more of this!
Micklegate House (c1752) below, was the former town house of the Bourchiers of Beningbrough.
The drawing stops at the point where it meets Barker Lane, hopefully to be continued. To see all the drawing scanned in full length, please visit www.drawingthestreet.co.uk
Limited edition prints will soon be available at Blossom Street Gallery and Framing. Please email me directly and I will happily reserve one for you. A small number will be available to buy from me directly.