Our entrance into Birmingham was quite stressful, however the stay in the centre as I have mentioned already, and the exit we took were anything but. The canal passage past the mailbox continues, accompanied by a railway line, tree lined, surrounded by leafy Edgbaston, the Botanical Gardens and the attractive campus of Birmingham University. By the end of this stretch and then with the interest of Cadbury World, the canal was entering the first of the big three tunnels on the Birmingham and Worcester Canal and urban living is once again left behind replaced by rural Worcestershire.
Leaving Brum means The Great Divide has now been crossed, we have left the Northern Monkeys behind and are now Southern Softies. I can feel the increased temperatures, wealth and arrogance washing over me but before I can get too comfortable in my new role snubbing the north, I am brought down to earth with a real bummer of a stretch of locks. The longest flight in the country it turns out, 50 something to Worcester in total and a particularly nasty stretch of 37 in just 4 miles at Tardebigge. Thats over 9 a mile. Luckily Stoke City holding Arsenal to a draw on BBC5Live got me through it (I have not completely abandoned my roots).
Eventually we pull up in Worcester, a small city dominated by an almighty Cathedral. My home city of Stoke on Trent has a much bigger population although it is a relatively new city (a federation of six squabbling towns 100 years ago) and thus doesn't have one of these enormous religious buildings dominating the skyline. It has plenty of impressive church spires and towers and even a new domed mosque but nothing on the scale of Worcester Cathedral. Nearly 1000 years old it still has the intimidating, awe-inspiring affect it's architects would have wished, and there is something utterly timeless about mooring up our floating home within ear shot of the bells tolling each hour.
Right then, where to paint it from? The iconic view of Worcester contains the Cathedral, and there seems to be one main vantage point, which is across the other side of the River Severn with a bit of cricket pitch and the arched river bridge in shot. *yawn*
I am paranoid enough about my paintings on this project becoming picture-postcard-like without consciously painting THE view of Worcester, that seems to be everywhere in the towns promotion. So out of stubbornness as much as anything, I defiantly stick to the high street side and try to get a view between the trees, this pushes me closer to the entrance and the visitors to the Cathedral so I feel I am having more of a conversation with the building, the close proximity allowing a more dramatic perspective and sense of scale, with the stonework filling the composition. The obvious influence here is the Rouen Cathedral frontage work of Claude Monet, although Dennis Creffield's expressive Cathedral representations have had a lasting impact after seeing him talk at The Princes Drawing School. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dennis_Creffield
|Claude Monet's various representations of the portal of Rouen Cathedral|
|Dennis Creffield - Gloucester Cathedral I|
We were having some rare and much appreciated sunshine and the tracking light source picking out the decorative stonework was unveiling some glorious unexpected colour combinations. Thoughts of Monet's Rouen Cathedral work and having the time to spend long periods of time with a constant subject is having appeal at this point in the midst of this stop start journey around the country, seeing so much but having limited time and feeling the pressure to keep moving.
Whilst working I was approached by a artist called Conrad (never gave surname) and we had a good constructive chat through where I was going with the piece. I think he approved. He voiced some great past artists who had similar areas of interest, particularally with the fracturing of this composition into a diamond format. The artists he named -
|On the 2nd out of 3 days painting this piece there was a Graduation Ceremony|
This piece, and producing it alongside the Entrance was also consciously a demonstration piece to the management team of the Cathedral to try and gain access to paint the spectacular interior...