Fenton is one of the six towns of the Potteries, Stoke-on Trent. It’s the one that wasn’t included in the writing by Arnold Bennett. Many of you will know that Stoke is currently in the run up towards the bid for the City of Culture 2021 so I thought I could play a small part and share some of the architecture of the Sixth Town that may fall under the radar.
Driving along Victoria Road, Fenton last year, a row of dark red brick houses caught my eye and I pulled over to take a better look. It turns out that there’s quite a surprising tale of connections for me behind the history of these buildings but more on that next time.
So, fresh from the drawing board, some work in progress pictures of Victoria Road in the Hitchman Street Conservation area, Fenton.
This is a row of terraced houses built on a philanthropic model for pottery workers towards the end of the 19th century. There is a comprehensive write up about the history of the conservation area here.
Look closely at the gables and there are some wonderful terracotta tile patterns.
The thought that has gone into the design of the fronts is consistent, balanced and although intricate, it all adds up to a really attractive terrace.
Back to the drawing now and more about this next time.
Thought I would share a few pics of the couple of days spent sketching another stretch of the Holloway Road. This time I brought along a length of cartridge paper which I had prepared at home with a wash of gum arabic and French and English Ochre pigments, to give the paper a bit of warmth.
Note the colourful tote bag by the French American artist Gwenn Seemel – I admire her outlook on copyright as well as her colourful artwork.
I’d packed half a dozen clothes pegs to clip the paper to a folder which seemed to work quite well. Even though it’s non-stop busy along this road, several people stopped to pass the time of day with me and thanks to Sean for taking this photo and sending it to me.
The drawing is now complete, scanned and can be seen in full on my website. Limited edition prints are now available to buy.
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.
Last weekend we joined up with Crohns & Colitis UK fo their annual walk around London. It’s a great way to see our capital and better still, it gets the word out about the support that’s available for anyone who has Crohn’s or Colitis.
We set off from Stoke Station in our purple tee-shirts. Once on the train, it wasn’t long before a lady offered us a donation; her sister was diagnosed 50 years ago, but back then it was something that wasn’t talked about at all. I found this a very moving gesture as I think that it is only in recent years that it is finally being brought to light and all credit to those who have worked so hard to raise its profile.
It was a day out for us and yes, I brought my sketch book! I’ve had my head down recently gettting on with my icon diploma work as it’s only four months till our end of diploma exhibition in Shoreditch.
I enjoy sketching on-the-hoof and my favourite sketching has to be the half minute bus/train stop sketches….they’re just thumbnail views of life on the go. Enough words – time for a few pictures!
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.
Hello! A warm welcome and thank you to recently subscribed drawing enthusiasts.
I’ve been working on this drawing in my local class taught by David Brammeld. It was only when I began this drawing that I discovered that one of my classmates was a regular Maxims disco diva at this legendary night spot! It used to be known as the ‘Place Mate’ when it was owned by the same proprietors as ‘The Place‘ in nearby Hanley where disco was born and David Bowie and Led Zeppelin once played as pop youngsters.
However, when the dual carriageway was constructed around Newcastle-under-Lyme, Maxims was severed from the life blood of the town centre and now all that is left are these empty shells.
I wouldn’t have given these buildings much thought if it hadn’t been for the comments given by Moya when I displayed some of my drawings in Newcastle Library a few years ago:
‘Stand with your back to St Giles. Look across the dual carriageway to what used to be Maxim’s 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 it had been a coaching Inn….Sammy Bell’s pottery was excavated in the car park/ courtyard area. The base of the Kiln is in the grounds of Newcastle Museum...’
The gloomy front masks a surprising gable window behind with a mosaic of pottery fragments.
From local records, it was bought by Samuel Bell in 1724 for £156 who set up a potworks there and then in 1729, took out a patent for ‘Agate Ware’.
Not knowing these buildings, I walked around the back and peered through the hoardings which now surround the site. I was so surprised by what I saw that I thought they were definitely worth recording as part of my street records. However, a flat elevation wasn’t going to give any idea of the complexity of the roofs and layout so I opted for a sketch perspective instead.
I used Dr Martin’s Payne’s Grey ink on a sheet of Khadi cotton rag paper, a heavy, textured and grainy paper – lovely to draw on.
There are plans underway for a new use for these buildings but it’s unlikely that they will remain in this organic sprawl for much longer. I would be interested to hear of any other insights into the history of these buildings.
Thanks for the comments Moya and thank you for reading.