Weeping Window

 

We visited Middleport pottery in Middleport, Stoke-on-Trent today to see “weeping window” a memorial made of 11,000 ceramic poppies placed on a bottle oven in the pottery. The poppies are some of the ones that were on display previously at the Tower of London and have been travelling around the country for the last couple of years. You are supposed to book a visit but as the number of people going to see the display has reduced we were allowed in without booking. We had to park on a designated car park as the local streets have parking restrictions at the moment and you could get fined.

The poppies commemorate the worth anniversary of the 1st world war,”the war to end all wars” which sadly did not stop humans fighting over and over again as they have since our ancestors first fought many thousands of years ago. Many if the poppies were made in Stoke-on-Trent so its good to see them come home although there was a fight to get them.

The display of poppies cascade down the oven, spreading out on the ground, representing blood and the fallen soldiers that were killed in the war.

I drew the scene but had to slightly shorten the bottle kiln to fit it on the page. I also struggled to represent so many poppies. We then visited the rest of the pottery, including the steam engine although it was not working today. There was quite a crowd so I only sketched it briefly.

On our return to the car park there was a large poster with the poem by John McCrae written in 1915. I decided to draw my own version of a poppy to go along with it.

Middleport pottery is very interesting, there is a museum on site, plus artists and ceramicists with their own studios. The tea shop was very busy but we managed to get a table. There was also a display by students from clay college who are doing a two year full time course to learn the skills of pottery making before they are forgotten.

Although the weeping window display ends in mid September the pottery is well worth a visit. It’s surprising how much goes on round here!

Casey

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If ever there was a strange cat it was Casey. He would jump in to any box, and kite! Black and white, with golden eyes, white paws, weighing in at around 5 kilos.

Casey was a stray, he kept going into a local shop and walking along the shelves, knocking things down. I was asked if we would take him in as no one else had claimed him. So he became our cat for a while.

But Casey was not clever. Every day he would sit on the white line on the centre of our road, every day, just after 5, when cars were driving down the street. Every day risking his life. I would drive round the corner, get out of the car, and call him in. I never knew why he did it, but as the evenings got darker I became more worried.

Then one night he limped in through the back door. We took him to the vets and they said he must have been hit by a car. The head of his femur had been broken, where it fits into the hip socket. We had to let them operate to remove it, the hip would recover if he was kept quiet and not allowed to move around much. We got a small cage and he had to stay in it for 3 months…..

Eventually he was allowed out. He was fit and healthy again, but I doubted his ability to stay safe. It was winter so Casey was given luminous, sparkling collars so that if he did go onto the road he would be visible to cars.

Nothing happened for a while. I took  a photo of him playing in the kite and decided to paint it.

Then one night he went out and when I looked for him in the morning he was nowhere to be found.

Worried, I put up posters, I rang a local cat charity, and then as it was the weekend, I had to wait for Monday to ring the council to see if their waste trucks had picked up a black and white cat. But there was no news.

Finally I rang another charity, yes they had collected a badly injured cat, they told me which vet he had gone to. It was on the other side of the city, it was the emergency vet that they used.

I rang in hope and fear. Yes they had received the cat, but it was badly injured when they got it so they had put it to sleep….. I was shocked. I asked why, and they said it was because no owner could be found! I asked what would have happened if I had found out where he was earlier? They would have operated to remove his leg! I could not get over the fact that he had been euthenised because I had not contacted them….I was so upset. His life was taken because there was no one available to pay a large bill….I was totally broken, felt so guilty. But there was no way I could have known where he was. It was before microchipping came in. My cats are both microchipped.

I still miss that mad, weird cat…..

Today’s sketches at apedale

Trees, trains, troops, tea, and horses all on display at Apedale (Moseley trust) today.

Apedale is a nature reserve, but there is also a mining museum there and a light railway with preserved steam engines. Today there was a steam gala, but because they have been commemorating the 1st World War there they had a lot of extra activity and extra exhibits on display. These have included a tank, a sopwith camel plane. Also about 8 steam engines, various trade stalls and model train displays and stalls.

I had a go at drawing as I didn’t take a camera with me. I drew William, one of the horses which pull a limber with a field gun attached. We had to go before they did their display sadly.

I also drew a couple of the volunteer troops and a couple of the trains that were on display. The first train I was drawing suddenly drove off, so the result isn’t brilliant. I also drew inside the cafe.

Kirk and Spock

OK so I’m a trekkie, I’m a sci fi nut. I enjoyed watching the series when I was a child, in the 1960’s and 1970’s. I loved both these characters, in particular Spock. I was amazed that logic was so important and I would often try to think logically like him. I was clearly a strange child.

Two of my favourite authors were Issac Asimov and Arthur C Clarke. I watched the film 2001 a Space Oddessy which is based on Arthur C Clarke’s book.  The images of space flight were really incredible. It was good that the flight to the space station was accompanied by music, it really irritates me when they play sounds when space is a vacuum and sound cannot travel in it. (That was one thing that DID irritate me about Star Trek). I also like the film I Robot, although it doesn’t stick to the book like 2001. Asimov 3 laws seemed to chime with Spock’s logic. I think I had most of Asimov’s Robot books and a fair few of his short stories.

Yes I’m more Star Trek than Star Wars. I loved the character’s, Uhura, Bones McCoy and Scottie, Chekov and Sulu. At one stage I had all the Star Trek books that had been written by James Blish. I lost them when I moved to college.

Kirk is great in his own way, he is such a strong character. My favourite scene is where he opens a grain hopper and Tribbles fall out. I still find that hilarious.

These two drawings were done at sketchfu. A drawing website that us now defunct. The little creature on the screen behind Spock is Fu. The drawing site only had 5 sizes of pen, an opacity tool, a colour picker and a pallette of colours. I wish I could have made the flesh tones more smooth and blended. I enjoyed drawing these two portraits….

I like the new series of films with replacement actors, I hope they get the chance to do more.

 

 

In my friends garden

I took these photos in a friend’s garden 6 years ago (they came up on my Facebook feed) I am a nut about colour and some of these just zing!

I think I used a little digital camera with no added features to take these. I was just amazed how the reds and oranges stood out in the green.

I wish I could time travel back to those simpler times. But time flies, tempus fugit, and before you know it you are 6 years older and perhaps not wiser!

But in the meantime I’m going to enjoy browsing through these again…

Cheers x

Names?

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A name just came spiralling out if nowhere into my head…Archibald Cotton…

I dont think I have ever met anyone by that name, but it sounds friendly. I imagine him as a Victorian pottery worker. Stuck in a hot bottle kiln, walking up and down ladders with boards balanced on his head. The boards would have saggars filled with pots on them. Men would carry  heavy boards up into the kiln to load it. The saggers were pottery boxes that had  ware (pottery) put into them, to protect the pottery from the intense heat and smoke from the firing.

I imagine Archibald working as a child or older youth as a sagger makers bottom knocker. If I remember rightly they put the bottoms on the saggars, one of the lowest paid jobs in the pottery industry.

Archibald would have progressed to one of the other jobs in the potbank as he got older. Maybe a fettler, a sponger, lithographer, warehouse man. Maybe he left the potteries and became a miner, or worked on the railways or in the shelton steel works

When I remember the Stoke-on-Trent I came to live in a few decades ago, I think of the old empty pot banks, warehouses, derelict buildings. An industrial archeologists dream. Archibald might have done archaeology…a fitting name for that profession. He might have investigated the ruins of the 13 th century Hulton Abbey, in Abbey Hulton.

Perhaps this name conjured from my imagination really existed. I wonder if I would have liked to have met him?