Let’s have a look around the Tolbooth main gallery area at ground level. The side windows face up the length of the High Street and it’s worth taking a look in every few days as work is sold and new art brought in.
Lovely hand-made hats and textiles by Beth Fleming as well as this wee chappie’s bandanas. This is Boothby, the Tolbooth dog. He was given a bit of a fluff-up and a new outfit from Beth and now models the bandanas and tasty dog treats.
Below, some fun wee pirates and elves by Dianne McNaughton – check out her amazing paintings here. Hand-crafted wire-wrapped jewellery by Hanne Harris and necklace by Jean Mellin. A variety of beautiful pottery by artist/ceramicist Richard Price. Glass robins by Sian Press.
Bottom row we have hand sewn fabric coasters by the multi-talented artist Evelyn McEwan, walking pebble figures by Gemma Lamara, wee bear (with mask in pocket) by Lisa Ritchie, glass stars by Carol Shoel.
This year, there is a focus to raise funds to improve access to the first floor of the Tolbooth. The Tolbooth is supported by a team of committed volunteers who know what a good thing this place is for the town. Even buying a pack of cards helps!
Many years ago Lanark had four town gates: West Port, East Port, Wellgate and Castlegate. There’s no sign of the gate that once stood at West Port – it’s long gone, demolished sometime in the late 1700’s, but the name remains.
West Port, Lanark is the sixth in my series of street drawings of this Royal Burgh. Here’s a clip from the part of the street where it meets Friar’s Lane.
My street drawings are flat-faced elevations – it keeps things simple and allows me to relate cleanly from one building to another in a way that can be read with ease in future. It shows the relationships of eaves and rooflines, heights and widths of properties and the general fall of the ground. It also gives clues as to what might lie beyond – take for example the chimney stacks. Here you can see the lines of stacks but no idea of the extent of their scale….
Let’s take a closer look at the stacks that sit on this early 19th century part of the street. I’ve recently drawn a series of sketches of the town for #inktober – looking at some of the less familiar views. Here though, this is a view you will see as you head out south from the town.
Look at these rows of chimney pots! Each one will service a fireplace somewhere inside these buildings.
Below is a close up of the West Port B&B which is one of the Instagram #inktober series (you can look these up on my Instagram page @drawingthestreet). The original is now framed and on sale in the Tolbooth, Lanark.
Moving along the street, let’s look at these two fine early 19th C buildings. The one on the left listed grade C, the one on the right grade B.
Moving along West Port, we move poetically from Mucky Paws to the Police Station…
The last part of this section of the street drawing is shown below.
Here’s the whole street drawing – from Friar’s Lane to number 43 West Port. You can see the drawing in more detail on my website drawing the street along with the other Lanark streets in this series including the High Street, Bloomgate, Broomgate and Wellgate.
As I write (9th Dec 2021), there’s one limited edition print, 104cm x 36cm, signed, framed and ready to hang on your wall, available from the Tolbooth Lanark. There are over 40 artists displaying their work there at the moment, so if you can’t see it on the wall, it may be awaiting its turn! Please ask at the Tolbooth reception or just email me: email@example.com
I’ll sign off with the final framed original of West Port from the #inktober series which is also available to buy from the Tolbooth, Lanark.
Thanks for reading
Framed original artwork of West port now available to buy from the Tolbooth, Lanark.
There’s a node of activity surrounding St Nicholas Church and the Tolbooth, Lanark. The ancient Castlegate converges with the High Street nearby and it’s easy to miss the history when you are concentrating on the traffic. Castlegate is one of the town’s oldest streets as it once led to the castle, the heart and origin of what was to become the Royal Burgh of Lanark.
If you glance down Castlegate from the High Street you should catch sight of the wee Girnin’ Dug – looking down from his parapet above Castlegate.
If the Wee Dug was alive today, I’ve no doubt he’d make his way to the Wee Mans below for conviviality and snacks!
Castlegate was originally a very wide street when it was once the location of the early medieval markets. However, it reduced in size when the Broomgate was constructed in the 18th century.
This October, I joined the Instagram #inktober2021 challenge to draw daily in ink throughout the month. There were various given themes but I chose to draw some of the less familiar views of Lanark.
There are a few of older cottages on the Castlegate which remain from the 18th century – I don’t know for sure but these below look similar to the old weavers cottages dotted around the town.
All the original drawings and some prints are now available to buy from the Tolbooth, Lanark where every purchase made contributes to the upkeep and future growth of this town treasure!
At present the Tolbooth is hosting the creative works of some 40 artists in South Lanarkshire, from fine art original paintings to hand-made, palm sized gifts, perfect to post abroad or to put on your tree – a feast to behold and a fantastic destination for Christmas gifts!
Being part of the Tolbooth’s new exhibition feels rejuvenating. A call for new work, not shown before, inspired by living in the Clyde Valley – Garden of Scotland, has been a summons to shake out the cobwebs and create something fresh.
It has also been a delight to think of new growth against a backdrop of the traumatic 20th anniversary of 9/11 and two personal family health situations. Life is so complex and I never forget how fortunate I am to be here in the Clyde Valley.
I’ve been working on a few things – taking the Paintbox approach to not putting all your eggs in one basket. I find this freeing as it means I don’t get locked into worrying over one piece of work. It allows a bit of space and time to compare and contrast as I go along.
For the few long term readers here, this is a step away from drawing streets, but only a step. I feel like my current work is only archiving our orchard landscape which is the wider context of the streets.
Here’s ‘Pick the Bloody Ploughman’ – an apple tree growing in our orchard and named after a mythical character who was caught red handed stealing apples…
The Tolbooth only thrives because there are committed people who realise the value it brings to the community.
There’s a great display of work up at the Tolbooth – if you are in the area – please do call in and have a good look around and a chat! You will receive a warm welcome!
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A new exhibition went up in the Tolbooth Lanark last weekend, titled ‘Coasts and Rivers’. This is Lanark’s invitation for local artists to participate in Scotland’s 2020 celebration of:
‘Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters, a year that will spotlight, celebrate and promote opportunities to experience and enjoy Scotland’s unrivalled coasts and waters encouraging responsible engagement and participation from the people of Scotland and our visitors’.
It’s a step away from my usual buildings but for the past couple of years I’ve been exploring ways to express the beautiful landscape up here through attending a variety of art classes.
I’d been attending a year long drawing/mixed media course held at Paintbox School of Art in Cockenzie until lockdown threw that curve ball. Some of the classes went online so I signed up for their artist’s retreat and one of the morning meditation classes had the theme of oceans.
It involved filling a dozen or so sheets of A4 paper with a whole variety of fluid marks, the movement of ink on wet paper flowing to the sounds of the sea shore. I used three inks – Paynes grey and two blues, plenty of water for misting, sticks and feathers and the bottle dropper to make marks.
I set aside the papers to use as collage for the entry to the Oceans exhibition, thinking about the image of the Hebridean sea that I photographed on our way to St Kilda a few years ago. I wrote about it here.
Some weeks later, I prepared a surface with broad sweeping brush marks in similar colours but using acrylic paint to form a foundation layer, adding in some textured medium. I then tore a few sheets of the collage paper into narrow curved strips and layered them on to the base layer.
I then used inktense sticks to add highlights and deeper shadows.
Finally, to add the metallic sheen to the highlights, I added silver gouache using a cocktail stick held on its side to create irregular fillets of light.
Here’s the finished artwork. I did a double check on the tonal values by seeing how it looked in black and white and was happy with the result.
‘Hebridean Waters’ framed and ready for the exhibition! There’s a wide and interesting variety of work up in the Tolbooth, I think the subject has been appealing and just what we need to get us back in the flow!
Thanks for reading and if you live near Lanark, hope you can come along. The subject has generated some really beautiful and soothing art.