Wednesday 5 December 2012

Let The Sun Shine, Let the Sun Shine.

Manchester's renowned for rain, but at the second gathering of the new Urban Sketching Group, it's a mild and sunny afternoon..

We meet inside The Exchange- it's the old Corn Exchange building transformed into a theatre.
We can't stay and sketch inside here today as there's a performance on, and, anyway, it's far to nice not to take advantage

Outside, in St. Anne's Square, they're setting up fake Hansel-and-Gretalesque cabins for the Christmas Market and there are a few stone benches to sit on for those who have no fear of piles.

I settle down to sketch.. two German ladies are surrounded by heaps of boxes, they're arranging it with decorative wooden hangy-things, which in my ignorance I imagine are called Volkjulebilderplakken or somesuch.
As time and I draw on, their stall fills up with goods, dusk falls and the lights in the cabin shine out.

When I count up afterwards, we sketchers number around nineteen- such a good turn-out!
We lay our sketchbooks at the foot of the War Memorial- there's a lovely diversity of        
styles and subject matter.

 Well done to all, and especially to Simone for starting the group!

Sunday 21 October 2012

In The Company of Sketchers

We aren't an official Urban Sketchers group yet, but as Urban Sketcher for Manchester, I was kindly invited by tutor Simone Ridyard to the first meeting of sketchers from Manchester School of Art.!/groups/321316664634124/

There was a good turn out- around twenty folk showed up- in front of the smart new Business School building, and we actually had sunshine for the afternoon, a rare event for Manchester!
I sat in the little park opposite the famous music emporium called Johnny Roadhouse and drew the rather scruffy shops.. tattoos, tarots, massage, fast food..

Everyone was SO keen and it was like magic, when after a couple of hours we had a lovely collection of sketchbook drawings which hadn't been there before.
 That's the beauty of creation!

Friday 21 September 2012

Catching Up

Drawing By the River, Avenham Park, Preston

It's been a while, hasn't it, since my last blog? I'll try and remember what's been happening.
A search through my sketchbooks should give me some clues!
Here's a picture, above, of Avenham Park in Preston, it's where myself and Mr Price met up with other Preston Sketchers.
As is this one of Morrisons Supermarket.

More Reasons to Sketch at Morrisons..

And we also met at Worden Park in Leyland and sheltered from the rain in the one place we could, condemned to draw what was in front of us, or the person next to us, which is what Messrs Price and Heath often do anyway!

Worden Park, Leyland

I seem to have spent a lot of time in hospitals, this one's when I was waiting in the out-patients..

Waiting Room, Cardio-respiratory Department, Royal Preston Hospital

And here's my dear old Mum who I found slumped at her home after a heart attack - thankfully she's making a good recovery.
Mum Asleep in Chorley Hospital

I've done a lot of bus travel and enjoyed drawing out of the windows,

"..And in Five Minutes It Was Out Here!"

 and listening to snippets of conversation.

Ta Love on the Bus to Preston

I've travelled by Virgin train (this sketch has got to be be worth a fortune now!)
The Train from Preston to Euston
to London Town

The Shard, London

 for the Olympics!

The Olympic Stadium  3rd August 2012

Good times were spent in Brittany.

The Beach at Pen-Guen

But now I'm back, doing things like sketching at the museum in Preston,

The Poulton Elk, Harris Museum, Preston

sometimes venturing over the border to Yorkshire..

Bridestones, Todmorden
 and, in the studio, catching up with the artworks for my exhibition next year.

The Mill That Lowry Drew, Pendlebury

Saturday 28 April 2012

Meeting Myself Coming Backwards

The Eagle and Child from the Parish Churchyard, Leyland.
Once upon a very long time ago I joyfully left my hometown in the grim North-West, to go to art college.   

I'd found little inspiration in the place; I hated its non-descript houses, its cultural shortfalls, the drab council estate where I lived.. and  I especially despised the ugly Gasworks in the centre of town.

The Gasworks
 Over the years of separation, my feelings have mellowed, through indifference towards a grudging acceptance and a present re-appraisal. For many years my heart sank at the sight of the Gasworks. It's gone now, and there's a Macdonald's where it stood. Which still makes my heart sink- I'd much rather have the Gasworks, it'd make a great painting!

Some of my favourites are still here, however. There's the lovely park, the weird 'new' 1960's Catholic Church  ( "a thought-provoking treasure-trove of post-war religious architecture, art and design"), the Eagle and Child pub by the parish churchyard, the surrounding rich countryside of the Lancashire plains, and the ever-present distant hills.

But a huge new Tesco store dominates the prettiest, oldest part of town, imposing its huge car park onto the ancient crossroads and making mockery of thousands of years of history.. "Are we at the airport?" asks my grandson.
 I'm living on the outskirts of town, where the flatlands reach to the sea, and the feeling is one of space, light and distance. It's a big vegetable growing area- and farms stand out against the horizon. Towards the Ribble estuary and the sea are the villages my ancestors came from on Mum's side of the family, where they were mariners and farmers.

Great Uncle Captain Matthew Sutton Iddon

 To the south-west is the village where Dad's ancestors were innkeepers in the 1700s; to the North is Preston where they were cotton workers and 'tripe- dressers'. (they sewed  little frocks and trousers for it, haha!)

Tripe-dressers for the Guild 1922 advert

There are great views from all the windows of my house- well, my kind of views, which might involve sheds!
The river's nearby, too, with walks along it and intimate views of pretty gardens leading down to the water's edge. 

Across the River Lostock
So much has changed, even since we left for France.  Bus travel, central heating... shops that have moved or gone completely. Dodgy areas of town have become almost respectable; fields are now housing estates; the big car-building plants of  Leyland Motors have been razed to make way for Argos, Morrisons and Homebase.

 A boy I last met when he was ten is now a bloke with a kid, library books are no longer stamped and my 'card' is now plastic.. my postman is hatless, shaven-headed with shorts and an earring. Where's his uniform and cap, can I really trust him??

 What do I do with four dustbins, when and where, front of the house or back?
 'The Rates' are known as Council Tax and water is a Utility (I always thought it was useful), but why is the Electricity called the Gas?
From the Bus

Sunday 12 February 2012

An English Artist in England

Dad and Mum, Blackpool 1946

My dear old Dad passed away in January. I'd flown over to deal with Family Matters (it's a long story which would best belong to the world of Charles Dickens) and he died a few days later. It's as though he waited for me.
Here was a man who was down-to-earth and practical, yet an incurable dreamer and a poet.
For us as children, and for his grandchildren, he blurred the lines between reality and fantasy, creating the magical childhood that he himself had missed.

There were fairies at the bottom of the garden- to say there weren't meant one would die! Ghost riders roamed the skies, highwaymen rode down ribbons of moonlight to their deaths, and Gypsy Rovers came over the hill.
On Friday evenings (it was pay day from 'The Motors') there were sugar mice with string tails for us, and the Beano and the Dandy.
Pink milk with coconut on top was a cure for crying last thing at night, or he would plan to make 'tear butties' from our weepings, which turned to smiles at the thought.
But he would warn us of The Boy Who Cried Wolf, and against excessive noise he would recite darkly:

Father heard his children scream

So he threw them in the stream

Saying as he drowned the third

Children should be seen, not heard.”

Harry Graham, poet

He took care to treat his daughters equally, without favouritism, and made each of us feel loved for herself.

As I grew up, he was protective and ambitious for me.

Bad school reports would bring threats of being made to work in the Mill, or, strangely, Woolworths- I quite fancied the sweet counter myself!

Although Dad mostly, like his Gypsy Rover, whistled and sang his way through life, he had a fondness for sentimental verse and song- Nobody's Child, Old Shep, and sad poems that he would delight in quoting freely.... to anyone at hand.

Adults were plied with his home-brewed wine, a variable selection ranging from sheer ambrosia to downright undrinkable.

I'll raise an imaginary glass to him- from one of his better bottles- to Vic, Dad, Uncle Vic, Grandad, Great Grandad... warm-hearted, generous, sometimes annoying, intelligent....

In the RAF, India

A small man, with a big heart !

With his grand-daughters