Molly Leigh was said to be the Burslem witch. She lived in a small cottage, a photo of which I based this picture on. There are no photos of her so I tried to find a painting of an elderly woman from about that time and chose a picture of a French peasant by Theodore Gericault as an inspiration. The plants in the background are meant to be foxgloves and different herbs in a garden I imagined to be full of things you could use for remedies. I didn’t find much out about her life, except she is meant to be buried in a local church yard with the grave orientated East West, instead of the normal North South way. We went for a walk and ended up in the graveyard, only to get told off by someone from the church who kept getting people messing about round Mollys grave. When we explained we were on a photo walk of Burslem and we didn’t want to do any strange rituals he was OK. The painting is set on a night of the full moon and I tried to make the sky atmospheric and spooky. I’m sorry people won’t be able to see my murals in the Leopard anymore. No doubt they will be painted over or removed.
This the mural I painted at the Leopard of Clarice Cliffs Umbrella design. It is one of several murals I did. They were painted directly onto the walls, but as the original room had several large squares and oblong of flock wallpaper surrounded by wooden framing, the owners stripped the flock paper and covered the patches with lining paper. I then painted on that. For some reason people think the pictures are painted on canvas. They will get a shock if they try and take them down. They would have to remove a layer of plaster probably too…!
This popped up on my Facebook memories today, it’s a mural I painted on lining paper on the wall in the Arnold Bennett suite at the Leopard Hotel, in Burslem, Stoke on Trent. It’s about 13 or 14 years since I painted it. It’s based on the Burslem Riot which happened at the same time as other riots were happening in the country about how people were being treated. I think it was organised by the chartists in 1843 (when they were trying to get the vote if I remember right). The riot act was read to disperse the crowd. A man called Josiah Heapy was shot dead by the troops and is remembered as a victim of oppression by the local elite. The main characters in the ainting were all based on people I knew.
Continuing the point about copyright, this is my painting of the Burslem witch, Molly Leigh.
Our local TV programme, Midlands today used the image of the elderly woman, (I based it on a painting by Theodore Gericault, of an elderly French peasant woman). I emailed them twice to point out it was my mural, but have not had any response back.
Last Friday I was interviewed by the Sentinel newspaper about this and a photo of my Burslem riot painting that the paper had used without crediting me. I don’t know when it’s du to be published, do it might already have come out.
Anyway. I keep painting.
Just been up to Burslem to try and see my paintings in the back room of the Leopard Hotel. Unfortunately they were closed. I think they run ghost hunts late in the evening so I had a look through the photos of murals I painted and spookily found this one.
The story I was told that the back room used to be split into small snug areas with wooden panelling. Apparently a woman was found in the back room. She had been Murdered, her throat was cut. I know no more about it but the mural was meant to depict it. I do remember being in the back room and hearing strange noises, it could have been the beer pumps. I would go into the bar to get away from it. I wasn’t exactly scared but felt a bit nervous.
These are three of my murals in the Leopard Hotel in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent.
The first is a painting of a design by Clarice Cliff called Umbrellas, a painting of a woman who may have been murdered in the back room, and gives rise to the possibility it is haunted, and a portrait of the artist Arthur Berry, together with a painting of his in the background. Arthur was one of my tutors at college.
There are other paintings but I need to take good photos of them. They were painted about 12 years ago.
Because I put the post about my art on Facebook the editor of our local paper has contacted me. That was unexpected.
He’s possibly going to write a feature about the paintings. Now is not the time to get nervous (which I sometimes do).
Fingers crossed I can remember what was the meaning behind all the paintings, it’s a long time ago! If they do an article I will let you know.
I was just watching TV and saw this! My mural painting of the witch Molly Leigh who lived in Burslem and who is famous in the city of Stoke-on-Trent. The painting is based on a picture of a French peasant by Theodore Gericault. The cottage in the background is based on photos of her home.
It’s not the first time an image of one of my paintings has appeared in the media. A few months ago my painting of the Burslem riot was used in the sentinel paper, again without letting me know.
What can I do? How can I at least get recognition?
In 1842 there was a Chartists riot in Burslem which is the mother town of Stoke-on-Trent. During a meeting of Chartists in the town the magistrate decided to read the riot act and the police and military shot a rioter called Josiah Heapy while they were trying to quell it.
I did this painting at least ten years ago and recently it appeared in the local press to illustrate the root. I wrote to the paper giving them retrospective permission to use it, but now it’s on other Facebook pages. When I informed one page they took it down. I don’t mind it being used but I did it and several others and would like some recognition. Some people speculated that I copied it from prints from the time. But actually I researched it. Look closely and you will see faces of customers, staff and the owners of the hotel. I used old prints to get the buildings right in the background. Things have changed since then including a victorian town hall which was built later. The police and mounted regiment are in uniforms that I had to guess. I tried getting the information but could not find it out in time.
I can’t use the actual painting in this blog because I don’t have the memory on my plan. But imagine this is a mural of the Burslem Chartists riot of 1842 that I painted in the Leopard Hotel, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent in about 2007.
￼The mural includes the hotel, the original town hall in Burslem and Josiah Wedgewood House.
The painting included police and members of the Staffordshire troop taking on rioters in Burslem. The rioters were Chartists and were fighting for the rughr to vote. One of them was killed, his name was Josiah Heapy and he now has a memorial in Swan Square, Burslem.
My mural included local people from 2007 depicted as rioters. These include local historians Fred Hughes and Mervyn Edwards and the then owners of the pub, Neil Crisp and Neil Cox. Other members of the hotel staff are included. I really wish I could show it you. If I sort things out I will post photos.