A warm evening in March, out at Westport lake. One of my favourite places for a walk. Over the last few years the trees have grown and the management of the lake has been taken over by Staffordshire Wildlife Trust. The sun reflects off the water and ripples from the swimming birds make it sparkle. The lake was artificially created from the remains of a marl pit (where they dug out the clay for potteries) and old mine workings. It was created for wildlife in the 1980s I think when Shelton Bar Steel works closed ?
Life spreads and grows. Greenery overtakes the tallest buildings, ivy scrambles, buddlea infiltrates. And beauty comes from waste and destruction.
I just found this sketch of International Women’s Day from about a year ago. I had a stall with art for sale at Burslem school of Art. I think this was the first time I ever drew the main gallery and I also tried to draw the banner that was on display there.
The school of art is very crooked. Burslem is old and suffers from subsidence or is undermined by coal mines. The whole of the city is built on clay and coal and the coal field under the city has caused a lot of damage over the years. Parts of the city also have geologic faults running underneath them so it’s not surprising that the buildings are affected.
There is also a volcanic plug where I live, the very base of an ancient volcano that was worn away by erosion over thousands or millions of years. The hill that is left dominates the valley of the river Trent, but the ground rises in other places too. There are coal tips (slag heaps) where the spoil from the collieries was dumped as the coal was hewn from the ground.
The wonder of Pottery and artistic design was the result of the geology in Staffordshire.
It’s been too hectic to post much over the last couple of days, I was getting ready for out makers market at Spode. …I only sold a couple of things, ah well there is always next time.
But yesterday morning I went out with Stoke Urban sketchers to draw the old colliery buildings at Chatterly and Whitfield enterprise zone. A former colliery closed in the 1980’s, I remember visiting when there was a mining museum there. You could walk through some of the old mine workings and he a feeling of what it was like to work underground.
Sadly the museum closed down due to lack of visitors, but I have heard that volunteers are trying to bring something back to the site.
We were outside the perimeter fence, somewhere on the path in the nature reserve that now surrounds the site.
The buildings are very big, there are many stories to them, with arches and windows in the side of the buildings. Huge winding wheels look miniscule where they sit at the top of the building, and guard rails are placed on either side if them. The main building is starting to get covered in foliage, eventually it could end up looking like an ancient relic or monument.
Metal frames and wheels also dotted the horizon, I did a pen drawing, a couple of pencil sketches, and a pastel and ink picture.
Being surrounded by other skilled artists really encouraged me to try and capture the architecture of the landscape. Drawing in a group can help your confidence. Even my partner had a go!