Socks idea

Thursdays #bandofsketchers prompt was socks. I don’t know if these exist, so if they don’t this idea is my copyright ©. Canal and bottle oven socks. The ideal present for someone who loves industrial archaeology, is interested in the Trent and Mersey canal and needs to keep their feet warm!

Leopard Hotel may be restored

About a year ago, the Leopard Hotel in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire. was destroyed in a fire. I was distraught because I had painted several murals in the Arnold Bennett suite at the back of the hotel. I had also been an extra in a horror film called Humanus which was partly filmed there. I would love it to be restored. It was old and quirky, and episodes of ‘most haunted’ were recorded around the building. But now? It’s a shell of its former glory.

The Leopard had fallen on hard times when it was taken over by Neil Cox and Neil Crisp in the early 2000’s. They started to pull the business round and bought out the essential quirkiness of the building, organising ghost tours and revising ad improving the good and drink. It was soon a venue people loved to go in. During that time they wanted some murals painting in the back room. I spent a couple of years between 2006 and 2007 painting ten or eleven of them. Why can’t I remember?

I loved doing it, and the figures in the paintings were often based on the locals, I even gave a talk to the local history group about what I had painted and the sources I used to decide on the subjects.

Now? I will definitely visit if its rebuilt. But I don’t think I could physically paint those murals again. And as I was only paid £75 per picture, for two years of work, it was never going to make me a profit, but I did it for the love of Art and the Leopard.

Two years ago…

The snow was heavier a couple of years ago. You can see the streaks of it falling on this photo. I love the quiet hush as it muffles sound.

But the heaviest snow was several years ago. I remember cycling on a tandem from Stoke to Stone (about eight miles). It was a least thirty years ago and me and my hubby had no car yet. We decided to visit some friends. It started to snow but we were warmly dressed so we got on the main road. But the snow came down thick and fast. I remember a friend who was with us decided to turn round and go home. But we continued along a dark country road through Barlaston and on to Stone. By the time we got there it was like being on a snow plough! We were starting to slide and slip because of the ice and catching the snow with our pedals! There was no other traffic and the snow was illuminated in orange patches by the street lamps. We met our friends and left the tandem at their house. I remember going to the pub and sitting in front of a roaring fire. When we came out there was about two foot of deep snow. We stayed overnight at our friend’s after falling off the tandem when we tried to ride off!

Summer

When it’s warm, not hot, when the scent from plants wafts gently in the air. Then it’s time to visit the Dorothy Clive Garden in Staffordshire. It’s on the border of Shropshire and Cheshire. As you look down from the tea rooms you can look down over the three counties. It’s pleasant to sit out on the lawn with sandwiches and a cup of tea or scones and jam and cream. I’m imagining that I’m there now. That the cold chill in our living room is actually a gentle breeze blowing over the hill behind us and cooling me down! I might even indulge in an ice cream from the tea room. We would definitely be buying plants to take back to our garden.

The Dorothy Clive Garden was created in memory of her. It is built mainly on a slope with perennial plants in beds around beautiful and unusual trees. Some of the plant combinations are spectacular. There is also a quarry garden filled with trees and rhododendron bushes in glorious flower in the spring. There is a lovely view of a waterfall in the bowl of the quarry garden. Then an extended area of the gardens with drought resistant planting and a laburnum walk under planted with purple Alliums rings the changes. This year we also visited a hothouse with tropical plants at the lower part of the garden. It’s a good place to visit on a summers day.

Town or City

Town/City full of buildings sketch. There are many historical buildings in Stoke on Trent but a lot of them are derelict and falling down. Where places like Manchester have had investment old buildings are refurbished and turned into apartments or restored to their former glory. Here in Stoke they languish, are bought up by out of town businesses that allow them to fall down, get broken into or in some cases have unexplained fires. Severs properties in the North of our city have had fires over the last few months. Is it wrong to be suspicious about that? I do wonder and worry that one of the most important areas of industrial and vernacular architecture is not being cared for. We could use the better properties even if we only keep the facades. But our local leaders seem hell bent on stripping back the past, losing a heritage that could be supported. You only have to look at Etruria Industrial Museum to see somewhere that has worked. But I despair for so much of our surroundings.

Preparations

I will be at studio 21 at Spode tomorrow for our annual Open Day. Come and see me painting in the studio or visit the makers market where I will have minature paintings for sale. Then during the day I will try to complete a new painting of a bottle oven (a pottery kiln).

It’s been two years since I’ve been there properly. My fear of Covid, then illness and bereavement have kept me out. But everyone was so nice today. I’ve entered some of my minature paintings for the craft Market. I thought people might use them as Christmas stocking fillers. There’s everything from a tiny giraffe with an abstract background to a small Jupiter with great red storm and a moon passing by. Maybe I will sell a few.

Spode Open day

I’m going to go to Spode Open Day on Saturday. It’s part of being a studio member at the old Spode Factory in Stoke, Stoke-on-Trent. I might be selling small paintings, but it’s been so long since I’ve been there that I have really got out of going in. With the pandemic and then illness and then a recent bereavement it’s been hard to pluck up courage to go in. My mind just got stuck in park (if that’s the phrase) and its been hard to get out of that feeling, but I think I’m slowly making progress. Anyway the painting is called Green Man, it’s a favourite subject of mine. Something serene and mystical about this mythical character (maybe not this particular one though).