Over the course of a week, there have been two back-to-back celebrations here in Lanark. The Platinum Jubilee has led straight into Lanimer Day 2022.
I thought it was timely to share a few sketches of Lanark to mark this lively time of year and I have to include the parts of the town that appeal to me most – the roofscapes, windows, chimneys, towers and eaves…..and the colourful bunting that makes it all feel like summer is here at last, even with grey skies!
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!
This is the third year of sketching at the Christmas pop-up shop in the Tolbooth, Lanark. Over 40 artists living in and around the Clyde Valley submit some of their hand-made created/painted/knitted/woven/sewn art work to sell and contribute toward the upkeep of this vital community building. Plus they offer a wide range of gorgeous gifts for friends and family.
This year, there is a focus to raise funds to improve access to the first floor of the Tolbooth.
Back in Dec 2019, the focus was to redecorate the first floor, improve the lighting and flooring to make it a more attractive room for community use. This has been done and with some style!
I’m delighted to have some of my framed limited edition prints of Lanark’s historic streets on display upstairs. You can see these in more detail on my website here.
There are a couple more of my framed prints available – here’s Bloomgate and the High Street pictured top right.
I love the circular work by Patricia West above – I think it’s called ‘Connections’ made with fragments of different sari fabric. Pat McKenzie’s work always catches my eye – she has some gorgeous art in the Tolbooth – my photos/sketches do her no favours!
That’s plenty for now. I will continue with a few more sketches in the next day or so. Meanwhile, keep well and warm.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
It’s easy to miss but if you look up at the front of the building where Bernard’s Wynd meets South Vennel, you’ll see a carved stone stating ‘Trafalgar Place’.
I only spotted this when I recently began a series of small sketches of Lanark to mark the month long Instagram drawing festival that is #inktober.
I hadn’t twigged that there were official prompts for the Inktober drawing themes! I simply began my own theme of drawing the views of Lanark that had caught my imagination – there are so many details that I want to pause a moment over by making a sketch.
Back to the name ‘Trafalgar Place’ on this street sign. The name doesn’t show up on the National Library of Scotland map of Lanark 1847-95 South Vennel. The photo below is a screenshot from the maps.nls.uk website, link above.
I did a search for ‘Trafalgar Place Lanark’ and came up with the ancestry website which records ‘Thomas Marshall Braidwood, born Trafalgar Place, Lanark, 1883-01-06, died 1967’. Braidwood is just up the road from us so a local Lanark connection. Thomas’s parents were Adam Braidwood (born in Douglas 1855) and his mother was Jane Marshall.
I find it interesting to look into the meaning of the names too so I looked up:
‘TRAFALGAR‘ this word is derived from ‘Cape in southwestern Spain, from Arabic taraf-al-garb “end of the west,” or taraf-agarr “end of the column” (in reference to the pillars of Hercules). The British naval victory over the French there was fought Oct. 21, 1805; hence London’s Trafalgar Square, named in commemoration of it.‘
Here’s the corner of the building where it meets Bernard’s Wynd. On the map at that time it was called St Bernard’s Wynd.
Perhaps there are Braidwood families that can research further into the history of this building but that is as far as I got…days are short and I want to catch a daily sketch.
I will sign off with another view from South Vennel – here we see the rooftops of the old Lanark Grammar School on Wellgatehead.
If you would like to see my drawings unfold each day this month, I am posting them on Instagram @drawingthestreet. I will post a few of them as I go along over here too.
I’ve been making my way through a long list of unfinished jobs – gradually bringing things I’ve started to completion. A theme in my drawings caught my attention as I noticed several post offices and letter boxes feature in the streetscapes. I like to include some of the street furniture – bus stops, telephone boxes etc to bring some context.
My most recent street drawings of Acomb, York are now up on my website. I started a set of four drawings back in February 2020 and it has taken 18 months to get them scanned. I return to my former workplace to do this – it gives me the chance to see my old workmates at HHA in Stafford (see later on in this post) . I will write more about the Acomb drawings in another post but wanted to take a moment to look at post offices on my streetscapes.
Lets scroll back through my work …. here we are in Lanark, 2019 on West Port. The Post Office is now on Bannantyne Street but this letter box remains outside the location of the old PO on West Port.
There’s a rare Victorian (VR) letter box built into the wall outside Christ Church on Hope St, Lanark, well maintained in painted pillar box red.
Moving down to Eccleshall in Staffordshire, I picked up the Post Office on Stafford Street, where there is a substantial ‘ER’ post box outside.
You can see the rest of this street here on my street archive blog.
Next up is a sketch I made of the letter box on the platform at Stoke-on-Trent station.
This is a bit of a personal favourite as it has a connections to old friends in Staffordshire. This one is a ‘GR’ – George Rex.
Stepping back on the Drawing the Street time line, we reach Audlem, Cheshire. Back in 2014 there was a Post Office here on Stafford Street.
Last of all, is Market Place in Burslem. This too was drawn in 2014.
A regular double sized ‘ER’ post box sits outside the PO Burslem. Here, I included one of my work colleagues, with a bag inscribed ‘HHA’ (Horsley Huber Architects), which marked that the office had been involved in some repair work on this building back then.
I love these little details. They bring the drawings alive!
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!
The Closes of Lanark remind me of the ‘Snickelways’ of York. ‘Snickelway‘ is a word conjured up by Mark W. Jones in his 1983 book ‘A Walk Around the Snickelways of York‘ and it weaves together the words snicket, meaning a passageway between walls or fences, ginnel, a narrow passageway between or through buildings, and alleyway, a narrow street or lane’.
York has many of these pathways, mostly medieval and often with unusual names such as Mad Alice Lane and Finkle Street. Lanark too has twelve remaining ancient pathways called ‘Closes’, hiding in plain sight along both sides of the High Street.
Wide Close, Duncan’s Close and Hunter’s Close show up on my drawing of 1-51 High Street (shown in full here).
The Closes map rich histories with their narrow footprint, architectural fragments and tiny details such as this doorbell in Shirley’s Close.
The Closes have recently been part of a project by Discover Lanark to make them safer, brighter and more welcoming and the latest stage in this project has been to install a series of information panels highlighting the history of each Close.
Kirsten Harris has brought layers of Lanark’s history to life with her wonderful artwork which fires up the imagination with the stories held deep within each of the Closes. You can read more about Kirsten’s creative process with the panel artwork here.
Meanwhile, I’ve been working on ‘the backs’ – the parts of the Closes where clues remain to remind us of what’s been before as part of ‘Close Encounters’, an upcoming exhibition at The Tolbooth, featuring the history of Lanark’s Closes as well as the framed originals of Kirsten’s Closes artwork.
Kirsten recently posed a question: ‘Has Covid changed your artwork?’ This was such a rich question that I’m still reflecting on the answer but this project shows me that it has definitely changed my work.
Previously I would have reached for my fine-line mapping pen but this time, I went for a broad brush to paint lots of yellows and golds to reflect my need for brightness and light after a Covid winter. I drew with the ink dropper straight onto the prepared surface with a feeling of urgency and that to hesitate is a not an option.
For this series of twelve rear views of the Closes, I had a strong idea from the outset and did a rough concept sketch below. A bright optimistic background as foundation with grimy and colourful history overlaid, keeping a narrow strip of light to draw your eye into the close.
I chose a tall, thin 2:3 format to reflect the vertical feel of the Closes – to walk along them you can almost feel the stones close in as you pass through centuries of witnessing walls.
With the composition sketched out I then added ink washes of Payne’s Grey on top of the prepared surface to give an underpainting toned with yellows and greens – the colours of April.
The next part was me having fun working in some gorgeous rich pastel colours (by Unison), responding to the tones beneath and keeping in mind the title of the exhibition ‘Close Encounters’. Passing through these narrow Closes can be a little intimidating on a dark dreich day, but they are far from dead ends and it’s worth looking up.
It’s a great help to check that there’s a good balance of tones by taking a black and white photos as you go along.
Finally, it’s always good to take a step back and the bench outside the back door is a great place for an overview. More about the Closes next time. As always, thanks for reading.
Today, Thursday 11th June 2020, would have been Lanimer Day, a celebration and a week-long town party that has taken place in Lanark since 1892. You can read more about the history of the activities on the Lanark Lanimers website. It’s a rare day in early June that the streets of Lanark are not filled with one of the UK’s largest processions for the crowning of the Lanimer Queen and many other ceremonial activities to celebrate the Royal Burgh.
I’ve hardly been into Lanark these last 12 weeks of lockdown so urban sketching has been replaced by orchard sketching (more on than another time) but I didn’t want the day to pass without acknowledging this significant week or without giving some acknowledgement to a few of the traders who show up in my sketches and who must also be finding it challenging to adapt and keep going.
These are simply some examples from my 2019 sketch book where I can show a small taster of the work that goes on in Lanark by others. Let’s start with some of the work by a Scottish potter Richard Price. This one’s for my Stokie Pals; I can’t help but admire potters wherever they are!
If there is work going on then there has to be a rest in between. Ernie, Tom and Millie sketched whilst on duty during the Tolbooth Christmas exhibition.
Included in the exhibition was a wonderful example of a Yorkshire Ewe by the animal portrait artist Rosie Mark who also works here in the Clyde Valley.
Looking outside the Tolbooth window, the pigeons settle down to roost on the chimney stacks.
Now for someone we all miss – our hairstylists! This is Heather at Nelson’s Hair Salon, which is being redecorated in anticipation of opening sometime soon.
Something else that I miss: being part of an audience at a music event such as this one held at Scottish Wildlife Trust visitor centre, New Lanark.
Finally I’d like to include an acknowledgement of the work put in by Ian Wilson Leitch and the Tolbooth volunteers and Kirsten Harris who all worked tirelessly on behalf of so many artists and creators to set up this shared exhibition open to all working in the area. You did a great job!
Here’s hoping that the pandemic recedes and that we can all pick up some of our most treasure threads of our daily lives with renewed enthusiasm.
Calling all Lanark artists! Lanark Tolbooth Trust and Lanark Community Development Trust have put their heads together and come up with a great idea for artists living within 7 miles of Lanark, by holding a rainbow themed art competition.
The competition is to create rainbow inspired images for an exhibition to be held at the Tolbooth, Lanark when the restrictions are lifted.
They have been inspired by the uplifting colourful pictures of rainbows that children have put in their windows spreading messages of hope and thanks to the NHS and key workers.
I thought I would do something a little different…
I don’t think I’ve mentioned here yet but since last October (until lockdown) I had been attending a weekly drawing and mixed media class at Paintbox School of Art in East Lothian. I’ll get round to telling you a bit more about the classes on another day (they’re great!) but for now I’ve discovered that preparing your surface makes quite a difference to your work.
There are many ways to do this but for the idea I had in mind, I wanted a lightly textured background, for a mostly monochrome drawing apart from the rainbows.
In my mind’s eye, I had a composition of disordered buildings, interweaving fragments drawn very simply, with the emphasis on windows and the rainbow posters. I’ve only been into Lanark twice since lockdown so it felt apt that it was more dreamlike. The monochrome sums up how things feel at the moment and helps the rainbows pop out.
I prepared 4 sheets of A3 paper with a coat of white emulsion paint mixed with a dash of blue grey. It gives a chalky tooth for the graphite and a varied flow to ink. I then worked directly on to the paper, starting with one key building placed off-centre and then placed other buildings in response to that one and so on.
I got carried away doing four sheets but I kept finding parts of buildings that I wanted to include. I now have to decide on which drawing to enter or do another one!
The drawings have been cropped into squares – top and bottom sections so you can have a good look.
If you are a professional or amateur artist living in or near Lanark, there is still time to enter – closing date 1st June 2020. I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of colour next month!