My Burslem Angel mural

Thank you Sharon Crisp for sending me a photo of my Burslem Angel mural (lost in the fire in the Leopard Hotel in Burslem). It was painted in emulsion directly into a framed area on the wall that had originally been filled with flock wallpaper. I had asked if anyone had images of my murals a few months ago. This one was missing as was on of a woman standing outside a pottery with a row of bottle kilns. I’m really pleased to see this again.

I think it’s interesting how the clouds in the background look like smoke or flames.

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.

Lost

We drove past the Leopard Hotel in Burslem today. Its just hidden behind wooden hoardings and scaffolding. I haven’t been up past it since the fire that destroyed it back in February. We only glanced at it. I couldn’t stop. It’s a hole in the history of Burslem, and a hole in my memory. I managed to find a photo of the Leopard sign. It was also known as the famous Leopard. I’m still trying to find copies of the photos I took of the murals I painted in there. A remote hope.

Stop the War

Photos, film and video of the War in Ukraine show huge plumes of black smoke rising over burning and ruined buildings, theatres and peoples homes. Meanwhile Putin continues to lie to the Russian people that no civilians are being targeted. He is using the same tactics he facilitated in Syria with President Assad. He is trying to encircle Kyiv and raise cities like Mariupol to the ground. He is evil and brutal. His propaganda to his country is that it is a ‘ special project’ not all out bloody murder.

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.

Wordless cartoon

I can’t remember the story behind this or whether there was a prompt. I drew it last year. I had to draw something with four panels for my college course. It starts with someone by a campfire. The fire goes out so they go to get more wood, But instead of it all being sticks, a snake, which had been asleep wakes up. I like the simple style I drew it in and the minimal images in it. But now I look back at it I worry that the snake would have been burned or might have woken up before being put on the embers. Even with a simple story you have to be aware of consequences!

Dragon hide

What does a dragon need to stay safe? If you read The Hobbit, Smaug the dragon was killed by an arrow that pierced a soft area in his skin under his arm. Dragons have to have a strong skin..

So what would it look like? I’ve been experimenting with how big the scales would be. I guess they would have to be like an alligator or crocodile skin, rather than a lizard or snake whose scales seem smaller or softer. The dragon would need fire retardant scales to prevent charring or burning either around its mouth when it is fire breathing or on the rest of its body. Maybe male dragons duel in short fights, if they were to attack each others wings they would need to be strong. Dragons wings always look vulnerable. The skin is stretched between bony fingers. Surely that could easily be holed if it were not well maintained. Lots to consider.