Tag Archives: cornelissens

Collecting Fruit

I love finding links between things that have caught my eye in places past which connect me to the present. Here’s October, ‘the mature man collecting fruit’ seen high above the Wedgwood Institute in Burslem, Staffordshire.

Today, up here in Scotland, a few volunteers from the local orchard group gathered to press the last of the Clyde Valley apples into apple juice. I doubt they were draped in robes like this but it must be a seasonal activity that goes back generations.

When I first saw the sequence of seasons and astrological symbols above the Wedgwood Institute in Burslem, Staffordshire, I was captivated by the detail, quality and symbolism of the sculptures and mosaics high above street level.

The mosaics looked weather-beaten but there was enough detail to see what might have been. I wanted to capture each of the months and zodiac signs before a few more winters saw them off – you can see from my photo that the mosaic tesserae have begun to fall away.

Scorpio is a much maligned sign of the zodiac, but to me it is a symbol of what is all part of the season of life events representing the cycle of dark and light, death and rebirth and so on.

On the Wedgwood Institute, you can see the full sequence of astrological signs set in mosaic roundels above the terracotta figures of the months.

I loved working out the forms of each sign so I could paint them in the sparkling mineral pigments of lapis lazuli and malachite set against the red and yellow earth pigments. It’s a great setting to add the glitter of Cornelissen’s 23 carat shell gold to give a celestial background!

Final layout below before I had them all mounted and sent to Barewall Art Gallery in Burslem.

It’s been a while since I’ve been to Burslem and no doubt there have been many changes but Barewall Gallery is still very much at the heart of Burslem, the creative mother town of the Potteries. I’m delighted that they are stocking all of the original artwork of the months and zodiacs – quite a few have already sold.

To give you an idea of Burslem’s townscape – here’s a sketch of Market Place from about 5 years ago.

Burslem Spring 2016

To close and bring this full circle, my nephew visited me in Staffordshire back in 2015 and I took him to Middleport Pottery in Burslem. On our way out we found ourselves on Nephew Street!

Skip forward a few years and we’ve moved up to the Braes. Once again the season has moved to that time of ‘collecting fruit‘, but this time my nephew visited with a wee helper….

As always, thanks for reading!

Ronnie

An iconic kind of door

 

drawing of wedgwood institute
Detail above entrance to the Wedgwood Institute

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.

poster of Natural History Museum
Entrance to the Natural History Museum

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.

red and yellow ochres for brickwork and terracotta
Terracotta details in the wall of the Wedgood Institute

Terracotta tiles and masonry details next to wedgwood institute
Coat of arms on the side of the Wedgwood Institute

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.

tile details
Collage of terracotta tiles from a building in Newcastle-under-Lyme

drawing of wedgwood door
The final drawing of the Wedgwood Institute door

For more info and to order or stock prints from a small limited edition run, please have a look at my website or email me at RonnieCruwys@drawingthestreet.co.uk

Thanks for reading.

Ronnie