Portrait session

We had a lovely sitter tonight called Debbie McAndrew. She is an author and play write and also sometimes acts. She wrote a brilliant play called “dirty laundry” that was on last year . It was set in the past and was about the history of the potteries.

We had an entertaining session drawing her and discussing all sorts of things, including how she got into the theatre and acting and how the group got into drawing and painting.

I really enjoyed the session and think that I got some relatively accurate portraits from it.

I used pencil, charcoal pencil and black ink to do the drawings.  The sketches are in a small sketch book with good thickness cartridge paper.

I like drawing in these books. There is enough room to fit the drawings in, and they are small enough to hold so that it is not a struggle to hold the book. Other people were using A1 or A2 sheets to draw or paint on but I prefer the smaller size. About A5.

Anyway I shall just leave you to decide if you like them…

Grey cat

Grey Cat, you sit and wait, for Mum or Dad or daughter Dotty.

But none come, they are gone….

Did you leave them, or they you? No one knows,

abandoned or lost, you have no home, but a brick shell, dilapidated, fusty, dirty, roof gone, open to frost.

Grey Cat, you are friendly, dusty, big head, thin….

You are white that is grey, and grey that is dark grey.

Your human Mum and Dad may miss you, but have already grieved, your loss tore apart a family.

Grey Cat, you have a territory, but bulldozers encroach.

Are you a Dad, are your kittens with their Mum. Do they rest their paws on dirt, or on old willow pattern tiles?

Grey Cat, I wish you well, may your days be long and loved.

Fare you well…….

New views of Spode. ..

Things are changing at the old Spode factory site.

Old buildings that don’t have much historical merit are being demolished and older buildings , or more architecturally important ones are being released from their imprisonment in brick, mortar, chip board, steel and concrete.

Like an archaeological dig tipped 90 degrees, new surfaces and entrances are being uncovered. Courtyards with windows newly on view. Stacks of saggars piled on shelves up at those windows, small or large,  flat or square ….the weight of the saggars must be tremendous. I wondered if the shelves are rotting and if they could collapse .

I remember seeing a film called “solarus” or “solaris” once years ago. By Tarcovski? A Russian film maker. The character’s moved through a post industrial nightmare, and I can’t help thinking Spode uncovered would make a brilliant film set.

A recent film called “jawbone” was filmed at Spode. They recreated a boxing gym in the China halls there. So many new views. ….

walking along the new pathway to the studios there, I wonder at the air we are breathing in, dust everywhere…how do we know there is no asbestos or other contaminants?

The feral cats of Spode can be friendly.  A grey and white Tom cat was hanging about next to the Hulton art pottery. We were told that someone is thinking of rehoming him. He had water and food….my partner wanted to take him home. But we already have two of our own cats. I think he will be OK. I have nicknamed him Maurice. ….

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?

 

Music night

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I was going to try and play my trumpet at the pub tonight, but of course I haven’t had time to practice, and although I had a lesson recently….well it just doesn’t sound very good….

So do a song…again…I have been so busy…..I haven’t learned anything new. A lot of the time I will just sing something that I have done before…

When we got there the band was playing, but there is always a section of the night where the audience can sing or read poetry while the band take a break.

I decided to sing “Scarborough fair” but I started a bit too high. I have sung it before, maybe two years ago, so I wrote the words down and sang from some scribble on a peice of paper…..

“are you going to Scarborough fair,  parsley sage rosemary and thyme, remember me to one who lives there, she once was a true love of mine” etc….

I took a couple of photos, but my camera phone doesn’t work well in the dark so I have had to put them through some filters.

A friend had brought some paper and pencils, so while the band and audience played music I drew some of the customers at the pub. I have posted the drawings here, some worked better than others. In a rapidly moving crowd you have to try and get an image down quickly. Especially if people are playing instruments!

 

 

Canal art

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.

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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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Etruria

There’s a lot going in at Etruria canal festival this weekend.

The canal boats have gathered, stalls with hot food, drink, tombolas and lots more have arrived.

The Etruria Industrial Museum steam engine has been fired up and has been in steam. Guided tours show guests around the buildings where bone and flint were burned and ground in order to be added to clay and make fine bone China in the potteries  of stoke-on-trent.

The steam engine at the centre of the complex turns the wheels that grind the bone. It is the only steam fired bone mill in the world. The bone and flint was brought along the canals to get it here.

If you want more information look up details of Jessie Shirleys Etruscan Bone and Flint Mill.

I have a stall there selling paintings and prints. As my sketch says, commissions are welcome.

Hopefully the weather will be good tomorrow and I will be able to post a few more pictures. In the meantime have a lovely rest of your day x…