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!
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.
I just watched a programme about pottery on the TV. It’s set at the Gladstone Pottery Museum in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent. I like it because people have to do challenges, tonight’s was to create three low relief birds, in a small medium and large sizes. Each one had to represent a real bird. One person did three macaws, another kingfishers, a third falcons. Each contestant made really interesting birds, the standard was very high. One person got Potter of the week, one got eliminated. Its good to see an art based programme with real skills.
The drawing above is a digital finger painting I dis in ArtRage oils a few years ago. It’s meant to be a multicoloured pigeon.
A combination of objects and their reflections inside and seating and buildings outside. This was three years ago when the place we were visiting was called the Potbank cafe. Now its owned by someone else and called the Quarter. Its based at Eleanora Street on the Spode pottery site in Stoke, Stoke-on-Trent.
Some of the buildings on the Spode site are due to be demolished and apartments are to possibly be built there instead. If it happens it will be sad to see our industrial heritage destroyed in order to build as many ‘units’ as the developers can cram on the site. The view out of this doorway may change, quickly or slowly, no necessarily for the better.
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!
This was the back room of the Leopard Hotel in Burslem (the Arnold Bennett suite). The hotel burned down last year taking my murals with it. They were painted in emulsion paint directly onto the walls so it would have been impossible to remove them before the hotel caught fire (apparently the empty hotel had someone growing cannabis in it and the fire was from an electrical fault. It had been bought for redevelopment and the local community wanted to take it over to make it work again. Now its gone. You can see the relative sizes of them to the size of the room. I painted them between 2006 and 2007. I miss them.
My friend reminded me today that two years ago we were having afternoon tea at the Rabbit hole tea room in Stoke. We had a lovely meal of sandwiches, scones and cakes and tea in porcelain tea cups and saucers. We had to book a table in advance. Obviously it was closed during lock-down but I believe it is open again now. It was a charming place and suitable for families having birthday parties. I hope it does well despite the cost of living crisis.
This came up on my memories today. I remember this was a cold and sunny day just like today. I was taking part in a craft fair outside Stoke Market. Things were better then, people had a bit more money. I think I sold a few paintings. I have to say they were a bit random… I think I had done a all exhibition earlier in the year so I’d painted all sorts of things, some better than others. I’m trying to be a bit more selective in what I paint these days. I’m also not keen on sitting outside in the cold as much!
Spode factory site is being considered for development by a company called Nimrod. There is a public meeting about it at the Potbank Hotel this Thursday at 4.30pm. If you live in Stoke and want to have your say please consider coming along.
Note the image is not mine.
Spode reflected and my willow pattern painting. I like pattern and design so doing both of these a few years ago was a delightful challenge. The window frame in the bottom painting was old and peeling and it was fun trying to get a likeness of it. The top painting was a willow pattern platter but using two different images to meld together to create a unique image. The border around the painting was all my own design. (There is a teapot painting on the table but the details are not visible). They are being photographed so I can have cards and prints, they are up for sale at the Arts and Minds Gallery, Veterans Support at Harper Street in Middleport.