Two years ago

I was in the studio at Spode painting this image of one of the poles of Jupiter. It was based on a photo from the Juno probe to Jupiter. I was amazed at the blue colours and the strong swirling currents in the cloud scape. I hope to go back to the studio soon, but I kept away because of underlying health conditions. I’m probably being over protective but I want to stay safe. I could go back, but I’m waiting till Omicron and Covid have really reduced. Our government say people don’t have to wear masks anymore. I’m not that confident. X

Willow pattern banner

A banner for one of our Penkhull Mystery Plays. We hold them most summers and the one this was painted for was about the pottery industry and its history. This banner was based on the willow pattern famous in the potteries. Spode was one of the factories that made plates and pots with this design, but if you Google ‘willow pattern’ you can find lots of images from many manufacturers.

Blue acrylic paint on a canvas cloth. It took me a while to paint. I also painted the local church and methodist Hall as they would have appeared in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Earth painting

And then I paint planets too!

Acrylic on canvas, I’m interested in astronomy and this view of the Earth was taken from a photo. It shows parts of Africa, Greenland, Europe and the Americas. I think you can see the wind directions indicated by the clouds.

I’ve also painted views of the Moon, Jupiter and Mars, together with nebulae and galaxies. It may be something I do again.

Brindley again

In 2016, nine years after the Leopard murals, I was asked to do a series of illustrations for a leaflet about the Trent and Mersey canal and the Cauldon canal. This is of James Brindley taking measurements for the canal navigation. The image was painted in acrylics on water colour paper and was one of several paintings including Middleport pottery and the Kidsgrove canal tunnel. The leaflet was published. I don’t know if they did more than one set.

Another mural, Wedgwood and Brindley

Another of my murals, four gentlemen meet to discuss the building of the Trent and Mersey canal. They included Josiah Wedgwood and James Brindley. They were said to have met in the back room of the Leopard Hotel in Burslem.

This image was found on a ghost hunter website. I didn’t give my permission for him to use it, but I guess I can’t complain because it means I now have a record of it. I will keep looking for more.

Almost midnight

She stands in front of her cottage. Molly Leigh, the Burslem witch. Notorious and buried in the local churchyard at 90° to the other burials. The painting is based on a peasant woman painting by Theodore Gericault.

This was one of my murals in the Leopard Hotel in Burslem. The pub burnt down at the weekend. I am bereft. I am trying to pass on my memories to keep a feeling of what it was. I painted these on the walls. Emulsion on lining paper directly onto the wall. I’ve had a few comments that they could have been taken down. I don’t think people understand what a mural is.

Fait acompli

As I get older I realise I can’t go back in time. Entropy, the movement of things from order to disorder. Things break down. Chaos increases. Things burn down. Look at the dinosaurs, they dissappeared. The Burslem Leopard Hotel is now extinct. My time there is lost.

Stop feeling sorry for myself.

Accept its happened.

Have time to mourn.

Try and recover.

It’s only a building,

Sadness,

X

In despair

In 2006 to 2007 I painted a series of twelve murals at the Leopard Hotel in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent. Recently the pub has been closed down after the previous owner left.

I was asked by the owners Neil Crisp and Neil Cox to do a series of Murals based on the history of Burslem. I painted the Burslem riot scene whose characters included local residents and pub staff, a murder scene of a woman said to have been killed there, a pottery worker at the end or start of her shift. I also painted ‘the Leopardess’ one of the original owners, a picture of Molly Leigh, the Burslem witch, pottery owner Josiah Wedgwood, and three of his friends discussing the building of the Trent and Mersey canal. Also Arthur Berry, famous artist and my tutor at college. Walter a pub regular who had drunk there since his youth. A Clarice Cliff design called Umbrellas, and a painting of the Burslem Angel that stands in top of the old town Hall. I also designed and painted a design for a coat of arms for the hotel.

I always wanted some decent photos of the murals but only have a few pictures. The lighting was not very good in the Arnold Bennett suite. They at least are some memories I have.

The pub was renowned for being haunted and regular ghost tours of the empty hotel rooms attracted a lot of attention. It was even featured in ‘Britains most haunted’ a TV show.

It was a couple of years ago that it closed. Covid didn’t help. I was sad to see it shut but it sounded like they had someone interested in getting it going again.

Over the last few days a report came out that it had been broken into and someone had been arrested ror growing cannabis in there.

Now? Who knows. Apparently three people have been arrested for setting fire to it? Whatever happens its so sad. I guess it will be unrecoverable, destroyed. Part of my life has gone with it.

Etruria Flint Mill

I added my easle yesterday. Today I’m showing you my easle two years ago, I did a painting of Etruria Flint Mill. It’s also called Jessie Shirley’s Bone and Flint mill I think? It’s the only working Steam driven Flint mill in the country and the flints and bone  were crushed and ground using the power of the steam driven beam engine there.

The buildings are part of Etruria Industrial Museum, a complex of cafe, the museum displays, and the Flint mill on the Trent and Mersey and Cauldon Canals at Etruria, Stoke on Trent. I’m not sure of its opening times. But once a month it used to be fired up and you could watch the fly wheel rotating round and the pans where the flints were ground rumbling as the engine turns them. Its amazing to see the industrial archeology of the potteries in action.

What’s on the easle?

They ask

‘what’s on the easle?’.

I say

‘a lot of stuff’

Tissues and a coffee cup

And other sorts of muck

A drawing of a dragon

A pallette and a brush

A green painted canvas

If you really want to look….

I ought to be painting

But there’s been a delay

My minds gone off the boil now

It’s not coming out to play…

One day I’ll get my mojo back

I’ll start to paint again

But till that day my easle

Is a place to rest my brain!