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.
A few years ago John, our son, gave me a hefty 10 metre roll of lovely thick cartridge paper as well as a concertina sketch book with another 10 metres of drawing paper.
The roll of cartridge paper made me commit to that first long street drawing (you can look back on that here) but the sketch book has remained unopened until last week when I received another gift out of the blue from Laura – some Uniball pens. Now these are the pens I turn to first for my on-the-hoof street sketches as they are waterproof and lightfast and have a range of fine points giving pin-sharp lines.
Last Saturday was forecast fair so I took off to the historic market town of Leek, in the heart of the Staffordshire Moorlands, with my new pens and sketchbook.
Leek has to be the friendliest town centre I’ve drawn in so far. It was a busy Saturday with a lot of people in town and although I was on Church Street, tucked out of sight of the main square, people still came over to see what I’d drawn and to pass the time of day with me. The sketches are pretty rough and ready but should help me get set up for the more formal drawing to follow.
I’m planning on drawing a series of streets in Leek which I hope I will have ready in time to go up in a shared exhibition in November at the Foxlowe Art Centre when Staffordshire Artists Cooperative will be putting on a joint display of their work.
I travelled light with my kit: a few Uniball unipin pens, a single ultramarine blue watercolour pan, a Pentel black ink brush and a waterbrush pen. I go easy with the brush pens on this paper but it helps to add a bit of shading to the buildings by dabbing some of the ink into a jam jar lid (travel palette) to dilute it first.
Hello again! It’s been a while since I wrote but I’m into the last few months preparation for my final show for the icon diploma I’ve been working towards the last three years. All 12 icon students will have their work on show at the Prince’s Drawing School in Shoreditch, in 18-21 October.
There’s still plenty of drawing going on alongside and I thought you might be interested to see some work in progress pics of an elaborate doorway in Burslem, the main entrance to the extraordinarily beautiful Wedgwood Institute, here in Staffordshire.
Quoting from its website, the Wedgwood Institute is a ‘Mid-19th century site with important artistic detail, built by public funds for adult education’. It has been included on the English Heritage list of Buildings at Risk and in 2010 named as one of the top 10 most endangered Victorian buildings. However, its future is looking much more secure now that the Prince’s Regeneration Trust and the Burslem Regeneration Company have made a commitment to its long term restoration.
Back to the drawing. One of the things we’ve learnt on the icon course is how to make our own colour from minerals. I couldn’t resist using the minerals which I’d ground up for icons on this drawing as I’d bought the raw minerals from the Burslem Lapidary Shop, just around the corner from the Wedgwood Institute.
This is a fairly big drawing, approximately A1 size on a very smooth, heavy (500gsm) watercolour paper. I sized the paper with a light wash of English Ochre pigment and gum arabic, then used French Ochre Havanna to build up the brick colour. I’ve gone for a softer drawing in pencil as I’m hoping to portray the intricate workmanship without it looking too heavy.
There are tiles laid in a basket weave patterns, in terracotta, buff and a bright green which immediately made me think of using the ‘Burslem malachite’ with a little azurite, even though it’s actually mined in the Congo!
The ink has just dried on The Square, the third drawing in the Audlem series. The Square is in fact more of a triangle which is formed around the T junction between the Nantwich Road (A529) and the A525 (Stafford and Shropshire St). This is the oldest part of the village and its heart. You can read more about the history of the village on Audlem Online
Looking back two years, the first drawing (seen below) stretched from the Post Office to the Methodist Church.
You can just see the southern side of ‘The Square’ in the middle.
A year later and Cheshire Street appeared. This shows the ribbon of buildings lining the side of the A529 from the edge of St James’s Church up to No 17.
Now I can share the latest drawing which although relatively short, contains the third side of the Square.
My thanks again to Judy of ‘Williams of Audlem’ who is stocking signed limited edition prints of the drawing. I’m only doing a very small print run of 20 from this drawing, available to order in one size 500mm x 200mm. Unframed prints are £54 each.
There are two framed prints in stock at Williams, one in matt black and the other in mahogany, for £125. If you are in Audlem for the festival over the Bank Holiday, call in and have a look – all prints can be seen together as a set. If you can’t get to Williams and would like to buy any of the Audlem series, drop me an email (RonnieCruwys@drawingthstreet.co.uk).
This is a flashback to a drawing I did last year following a wintery visit to the walled gardens at Keele. I was slowed down at the time by a few fractures but wanted to record the bothies as soon as I first saw them.
So here we have the finished drawing of 32 to 56 High Street, Eccleshall, complete with guest appearances by local residents. This has been great fun to include you all and I hope you can still recognise yourselves…
Greetings cards are now in stock at Gallery at 12 in Eccleshall of this latest drawing. Prints also available to order and you can see the drawing in full over on my website:Drawing the Street.
KFC on Market Place Burslem must be proud of its Palladian and Diocletian windows. The description in the listing needs an architectual dictionary to translate but these 18th century windows must have been pretty well built to have survived this far and they have fared better than the kilns which once stood behind the building.
This is only a short drawing but this part of Market Street frames the northern side of Fountain Place and lies quite close to St John’s Square. It could be quite easily overlooked but there are two listed grade 2 buildings at one end – Hog Noggin and KFC.
There are some interesting old Potteries photos which show how close this street was to the factory and kiln which once stood behind. I would love to hear any insights into the history of these buildings. Please do get in touch and I will share it on the archive blog (Drawing the Detail).
Bear-baiting, bull-baiting and cock-fighting were once popular sports in St John’s Square, Burslem, shown above, fresh off my drawing board. Residents of perhaps one or two of these buildings would have had a prime view on a Sunday morning, when these activities were likely to happen. All banned by law in 1837, thank goodness.
Interesting clues of what went on remain in place and pub names though.
There’s a great old photo of the square which predates the arrival of the red brick building above ‘New Era’ Barbers shop, with the gable and brickwork bearing the date 1884.
It looks like a thatched cottage stood here before this building
I love discovering little bits of our history and thank you Geoff Barnett, for introducing me to the world of Burslem. Before I sign off, I was chatting about this drawing to Terry Hunt in Jollies Art Shop, Newcastle-under-Lyme. It turns out he was once the landlord of the Duke William!
So this post is for Geoff and for Terry.
And here’s Terry outside his shop on Liverpool Road. Good to see that my drawings have got a bit more colourful over the last couple of years.
It’s almost two years since I first sketched out this drawing. It all began with a coffee at the Pig and Pastry and somehow the word has got around that this is one extraordinary street. Hearing that Bishy Road has been awarded the honour of becoming Britain’s No 1 Great British High Street was such good news today.
That’s a huge amount of community effort, dedication and commitment spent over many years, led by Johnny Hayes of Frankie and Johnny’s cookshop and with a whole raft of participation in and beyond this remarkable street.
Congratulations Bishy Road! Enjoy your big moment. You show how it is possible to turn the ordinary into extraordinary.