Leopardess

Here is a better photo of my mural that was destroyed in a fire at the Leopard Hotel in Burslem earlier in the year. The landlady was said to have come over from the Caribbean and married an English man. She then ran the hotel. The trouble is I painted this in 2006? I honestly can’t remember the story I was told and now the hotel is gone.

Destruction

Today’s #bandofsketchers prompt was destruction. The Leopard Hotel in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, was destroyed by fire just a few weeks ago. This is a sketch from a photo by Stokie Bloke (I can’t face visiting the Leopard Hotel). Not very accurate. You can see the roof has gone. There were more photos including the room where my murals were. The walls are still standing, but there are just blank ashy grey spaces. So sad.

How the Leopard looked

This was the function room, the Arnold Bennett suite, in the back of the Leopard Hotel with my murals visible on the walls. They were quite high up and I’m only short, so I spent a lot of time climbing up and down ladders! If I had realised it was likely to take me almost two years to paint them (there were eleven? ) seven on one side and four on the other if I remember?

Titles were :

The Leopardess

Umbrellas by Clarice Cliff

Arthur Berry, artist

Walter, the regular

Pot banks and woman worker

Murdered woman

The Leopard coat of arms

The Burslem Riot 1842

Wedgwood and Brindley

Molly Leigh, Burslem witch

Burslem Angel

I cannot remember if there was another one. I’m hoping to collect a full set of images of them. I hope that local people will be able to help me.

Changing spots

When I was painting in the Leopard Hotel I designed a coat of arms for the hotel. The hotels ginger cat lies across the top of a shield with garlands of leaves and berries around it. The shield is split into four sections. From the top left there are crossed knives and forks on a blue ground with a gold chevron. The top right is a portrait of Prince Leopold (not sure where he was from) it was possible that the Leopard could have been named after him. Bottom right are three foaming tankards in gold. And bottom left is a painting of a Leopard. The motto on the banner underneath says ‘The Leopard can change its spots’. The idea behind it was that the pub had just been taken over and the landlords Neil Cox and Neil Crisp wanted to turn it into a friendly place to eat great food and wonderful beer. I think they made a great job of it and for a few years it prospered but the changing face of the town, the empty buildings and then covid finally managed to close it. Sorry for the fuzzy photo.

On the walls

Photo courtesy Fred Hughes

I got a couple of photos from my friend of the Arnold Bennett suite in the Leopard Hotel in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent. These were taken before the fire that destroyed most of the building although some walls are still standing.

People have asked if the paintings were removed when the pub closed two years ago. But they were murals. The room originally had flock wallpaper inside framed areas on the walls. When the new owners took over the pub they decided to have murals painted in there. They contacted Burslem School of Art and I was asked if I was interested. I’d painted murals and scenery before so I said yes.

The owners lined each space with lining paper and I got coloured emulsion paints to create each mural.

I think this photo in particular gives an idea of the size of the murals and how they were laid out. I hope to get more images of them so I can have an archive of them for my records.

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.

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.

The Colour Room

Mural of Clarice Cliff umbrella tea set I painted at the leopard Hotel.

I’m excited, a film about the life of Clarice Cliff, the Art Deco pottery painter and designer has just come out on film. I’ve also found out some of my friends are extras in the film! I want to find out if I can go and see it at a local screening.

Clarice Cliff is famous for designs such as “bizzare” and other geometric shaped pots painted in colourful and stylish patterns. She was working in the 1930’s at the same time as other paintresses such as Suzy Cooper. Apologies for my lack of information. If you look her up on Wikipedia or perhaps the museum services at Stoke-on-Trent City Council. She is very famous here. X