I sometimes get asked to draw buildings back into the street that have been demolished using old photos for reference. For instance, the much missed old ‘Muni’ on the Ironmarket, Newcastle-under-Lyme, which was taken down in the late 1960’s to make way for the library.
My intention for Drawing the Street is to draw what is there at the present. Drawing buildings back in that have gone somehow feels inauthentic. That said, who knows how many buildings might disappear from the streets that I’m drawing now!
Besides, I want to capture the life that is quietly ongoing such as here in Church Street, where the chap (Nathan) above Mr Dicks was giving me the thumbs up as I was photographing the building. The business closed not long after but it makes my day that the spirit of Nathan firmly remains on the drawing.
My drawings are records of our streets as they stand now for the future. Thing is, as soon as the drawing has gone to print, there are already micro-changes and within no time shops have changed hands and it’s out of date! So by default I’m also capturing the past, which is the great name for the exhibition currently on display at the Brampton Museum and Art Gallery.
I made a flying visit to to the Preview – a 12 hour round trip from Scotland for an hour at the museum. It was worth it to see fourteen original Newcastle streets framed and on display ! Plus a number of other Newcastle sketches, all capturing details that have caught my attention.
When I set out my first exhibition at Newcastle library, I had no idea where the idea for Drawing the Street would take me but I knew it was a baby worth nurturing and helping to its feet. I can’t tell you how heartening it is for me to reflect back on the last six years and see the meandering route that my streets have led me.
If you have read this far, thank you! I can share with you that I have just finished my 50th street! I’m going to be sharing a lot of images of my Newcastle work over on Facebook and Instagram over the next few weeks so hope to be in touch with you over there.
I have a big trip quietly planned for Friday 13th September. A lot of time in the car, train and taxi to spend a couple of hours at the Brampton Museum, Newcastle-under-Lyme, but I’m thrilled that my work is to be included in an exhibition ‘Capturing the Past‘ held by the Museum from 14th Sept to 3rd Nov 2019.
The exhibition invites us to: ‘take a trip down memory lane and see our town through the eyes of local artists and photographers. Nothing ever stays the same – our world is constantly changing’. The selection has been taken from the museum’s vast archive of local history and it is a great honour that my work has been included to display.
The Friends of the Brampton bought the entire collection of my original Newcastle-under-Lyme street drawings before I left for Scotland and they are hosting a preview at the Museum on Friday from 2pm.
I was really pleased that the collection stayed together in their birthplace. Six years on, the drawings will reveal how things have changed in the interim.
My drawings focus on streets as a whole rather than just an assortment of buildings enabling the viewer to see them from a wider perspective; how one building relates to another and how the loss of one building affects its neighbours. I created them as a social and historical archive so I am very happy they were retained as a collection for public record in Newcastle. They can be read and interpreted in years to come.
Time now for some new work hot off the press! To celebrate this great moment for me – just over six years since Drawing the Street set out, I have sketched three more buildings of the town, including the much loved Brampton Museum itself at the top of this post.
The street layout at the heart of Newcastle is medieval and I’ve always loved the view from the end of the High Street looking down towards the pinnacles, gables and tower of St Giles’ church.
Looking down at street level, we see a few signs directing us down through the arch, along the very narrow Pepper Street.
I had to include a reference to Cassie and Francesco at Amore Italian restaurant, Pepper Street, where my work was on display for several years.
The third sketch is another feature of the High Street – the Guildhall.
These sketches will all be available to buy at the Brampton as greetings cards and also as signed prints set in A4 mounts at £20 each. There aren’t many as I am only taking as many as I can carry…
To see the full collection of my Newcastle drawings please visit my website Drawing the Street.
Hello friends, family and visitors to the Library,
I think I will have to get a new hat as my favourite won’t fit at this rate…So many compliments! Thank you very much to all those of you who have made the time to visit the Newcastle-Under-Lyme Library exhibition, on Ironmarket. I am relieved to read that those who have kindly commented have felt that the visit was worthwhile. Also, lovely to hear about the old buildings around Maxim’s. Does anyone else have any insights or old memories of the the streets that have been drawn? There is a feedback form midway below.
The exhibition dates have been extended and it will stay up until 30th November, due to the cancellation of the exhibitor straight after me – I understand he is unwell so hope he is feeling better soon.
Greetings cards are now on sale at the library, ask at the counter. Some illustrate additional drawings to those on display and a few samples below:
Below are some of the comments received about the exhibition, full names withheld.
So impressed by the magnitude and detail of the whole project- your talent is amazing! What a wonderful way to open our eyes to the buildings around. Thank you. RH
Ronnie Cruwys,you’ve really got your act together with these local scenes. Very, very good, lots of interest, lots of detail. Top drawer! GJ
Your drawings are amazing, taking care of the tiny details made it the drawings as if they are documenting the streets very well, also the scale and dimensions are very true. It was nice to meet you too. YK
Fantastic detailing, great use of colour makes the town look like a place you’d like to shop in (what a pity it isn’t). Spread your wings, other streets, a focus on certain buildings (pubs might be popular) maybe these pics could inspire great things in Newcastle!
Absolutely beautiful- keep up the good work. Great historical pictures (for our future children)! Would be great to see Kidsgrove captured in this way! CC
Fantastic artwork and an inspiration to have a go myself, good range of places covered too! L
‘High street’ in the sixties, as a young art student looking for somewhere to sketch. We went around the corner, right hand side of your drawing, lots of little shops down an entry around the back. The back door of the shop still had a pub glass half door with engraved decoration and I think the name of the pub. It might be worth checking. Beautiful and interesting work. Well done and what an interesting project. Love the colours. M&P
Stand with your back to St Giles. Look across the dual carriageway to what used to be maxims night club. This used to be the old catholic club and overspill rooms for St Marys school. Also it was the Old Pomona pub. When they took Evans sweet factory down behind it, they discovered that there was a courtyard and had been a coaching Inn. P and I both went to St Martin’s overspill rooms and played round the lovely old tree in the middle of the yard. By the left hand side of Maxims is a building that used to be Sweethearts, if you look up on the left hand side of the building you will see the built in shop name and on the edge and corners two beautiful vases of fruit and flowers. Phew! M
I don’t think I’ve ever seen your sketches before I’m really impressed, but not surprised. They have a playful quality about them, especially “Ironmarket in the Summer”, I think it’s the minimal us of colour. I think Liverpool Road is my favourite overall. MM
Superb, Ronnie, well done! It almost bought a tear to my eye as you have captured everything so well. So pleased also that you have won an award with the museum and the exhibition there over Christmas! I’ve also been looking at your website and that too is really impressive! There’s no stopping you now is there!!? GR
Drawings are superb. You need to do a book to accompany them. I am sure that this would sell like hot cakes. SH
This is good babes N
I’ve had a look at the link and then to your website – all I can say is WOW. AW
This exhibition is by far the best I have ever seen. The detail in all the drawings is beautiful to see. S. S
Beautiful drawings, great detail, it’s amazing how much the look of the buildings reflects the area. NW
Wonderful! Perhaps a few ghosts of what was once there: the municipal building et al. BM
Impressive display, a fresh look to the eye, love them.
Well done Ronnie, v. Interesting. How come ‘Newbould’ name is omitted from the finished drawing but on the sketch? A&J
This is to make up for the missing text on the finished drawing ‘Newbould Opticians’.
B and I love all of your pictures- think my favourite is Merrial Street- B’s favourite is Ironmarket. Love the sloping road leading up to the shops on Merrial Street. TG
The forecast is stormy but I am very excited by my week ahead. Tomorrow I begin my three year Icon Diploma course in Moele Brace, and have just set up a new blog site for anyone interested in following what I will be learning from Aidan Hart, one of the UK’s leading Iconographers (www.icondiplomastudent.wordpress.com).
Then, next Saturday afternoon, 2nd November, I set up my first two week exhibition for Drawing the Street. If you live in Newcastle-under-Lyme, please come along as I hope to have some of my better Newcastle drawings up for you to see, but you can be the judge of them! It will be up until 16th November.
I must add here a couple of ‘thank yous’. One to Terry at Jollies Arts & Crafts for helping me to assemble the frame for ‘Ironmarket in Winter’ – it isn’t easy to frame a 2.7m drawing. Another to Kevin at ‘I wis Framed’ in Stoke, who has been damping and weighing down some of my buckled cartridge paper ready for framing.
I’m also still recovering from the news that my ’Ironmarket in Summer’ was awarded a prize by the Friends of the Borough Museum and Art Gallery. I was truly delighted with this news! Thanks to the Friends and the Gallery.
I have been getting my work printed with Smith York printers in Ironbridge and gradually trying out different methods and papers so that I can have a range of prints available to buy. Please note that when any work is displayed in a gallery, there is a commission to include but it all helps the economy. I also would like to add that quality and sustainability is really important to me and this is reflected in my choice of suppliers.
I look forward to seeing some of you up at the library.