I did a series of illustrations for the canal and rivers Trust a couple of years ago. They were included in a leaflet about James Brindley the canal builder.
Each illustration was acrylic paint on watercolour paper because I wanted a more opaque picture than with watercolours. Each one was in an oval or round frame.
I wish I had a copy of the leaflet but I think they all went..
Etruria is hosting varied events this weekend. There are plenty of wonderfully painted and restored canal boats and barges, and there were also some old and interesting lorries at the site which had hauled static steam engines to Etruria.
I’ve often wondered what it was like to live on a working barge and we recently had the opportunity to see the interior of an old boat that hauled coal, the cabin for a family was only about 6 or 7 foot by 5 ft. There were various adaptations, like having a table that dropped down and boards to put across to make up a bed. But the life was hard and must have been very difficult and dangerous at times.
One man I was chatting to had lived by the canal in the second world war. He said a bomb was dropped on the canal by aircraft trying to hit the local steelworks. It took the roof off a covered lock and blew down an old wall next to the canal. He also said that there is a lot of subsidence in the area and the land had sunk so much they had to build a new lock. They had dredged the canal then filled in the base. He had helped bring down new lock gates from the countryside down the cauldon canal. But when they got to Etruria the canal was too shallow as they had added too much clay lining to it. With the weight of the lock gate the boat grounded on the bottom and they were stuck on the barge until someone came along with a board to help them get off the boat.
There is so much history that we know so little of in this area.
Tomorrow , well actually later today, there is a classic car show at Etruria. Should be good.
Using the Layout app from Instagram, I created this surreal image using a photo of a local canal with a strange thin building projecting upwards from what appears to be a circular or oval pool, the water was so still it had a lovely reflection on it, and this has added to the final picture.
The building is the edge of an old, derelict, warehouse that stands like a cliff face next to the canal, in the past ware from the pottery would have been transported from the pottery, south and east to the Midlands or north and west to the coast at Liverpool or up to Manchester and beyond. In fact Stoke-on-Trent lies at the heart of the canal system, and was built around the coal, clay and water of this area. Manufacturing of pottery, steel making and coal mining was on a massive scale here. Industrial archaeology will reveal the landscape as an amazing historical treasure trove of creativity. Some of the buildings were lost to demolition and decay, many bottle ovens have gone. The rest have protection orders on them, but are not necessarily being maintained. Warehouses and factories are crumbling. It is sad that history is being lost.
Short notice I know….Its a steaming weekend with tours round the Etruria Industrial museum. The steam engine for Jessie Shirleys bone and flint mill will be fired up and the forge will be open further along the Trent and Mersy canal where it joins with the Cauldon canal. Also I think there will be organ grinders there. The exhibition will be in the warehouse and hands on pottery is also on, run by Etruria Artists. The canal warehouse is by lock 40 on the trent and mersey. The weekend coincides with the opening of weeping window just down the canal at Middleport, this consists of thousands of poppies made out of clay and painted red. They are displayed pouring down the outside of the bottle oven at the Middleport pottery in Burslem.
The Flint mill is over the canal from Kilndown close, Etruria, stoke-on-Trent… Come and see us if you can!
The main art on canal boats or barges consists of old fashioned lettering, this then has shadows cast to make it appear 3 dimensional. See the photos above.
I tried to draw this canal rose pot to keep me occupied while I was at the canal festival.
What you regularly see is this castle and roses pattern on barges and canal boats. It consists of a landscape painted with a stylised castle, often next to a river, and roses and leaves will appear either around the castle or on a different part of the bucket, jug, pot, table, stool or whatever peice of equipment carried on the barge. These historical paintings are also often painted on the inside of the doors so that when they are opened against the side of the hull they are on view.
I think this style of art is lovely. It may be old fashioned, but its interesting.
To paint the roses you start with a filled in circle of paint, then the leaves are painted in, then the petals are added. These seem to be created using the brush shape and are simple but neatly done. Finally details like highlights and stamens are added.
When these barges were in use, the main part of them were used for hauling coal or pottery. Whole families might live in a space not much bigger than about 10 foot by 6 foot…., is it any wonder that the barges were decorated with these patterns to make them more like home?