Monday 29 July 2013

What's next then? ... Painting in the USA!!

Whilst showcasing our work from Year of the Boat throughout the UK in 2013 we have also been planning and implementing our next major project. Throughout July and August we shall be based in San Francisco, Las Vegas and New York producing on-location or plein air paintings.

We have started a seperate blog for this project so please follow us over ...

Saturday 18 May 2013

HRH Prince of Wales visit to Burslem - 16th May 2013

I was honoured to meet and share some words with HRH Prince of Wales during his visit to Burslem on the 16th May 2013. One of the six towns of Stoke-on-Trent, Burslem is the town where we keep a studio and where we were based and established our businesses before embarking on the Year of the Boat.

The Prince was in Burslem to visit The Wedgwood Institute, a superb but derelict building in the heart of the town, as part of a Prince's Charities Summit. All the 12 Prince's Charities (such as the Prince's Trust, The Prince's School for the Traditional Arts, The Prince's Regeneration Trust) are beginning to work together in highlighted communities to try and drive forward regeneration.

The Wedgwood Institute is my favourite building in the city, I used to rent a flat opposite and have painted it numerous times...

The building has a spectacular facade of ceramic friezes and Minton mosaic tiles. It was Wedgwood's statement to the world that whatever could be achieved in stone building and decoration could also be achieved in ceramics thus advertising the local industries of 'The Potteries'.

To provide some interest to the Prince's tour of the town with his charity delegates I set up and painted a painting of the crowd gathering in Queen Street through out the day, starting early in the morning and finishing with the chat with HRH at about midday.

The Prince stopped and I gave him a book of all the Year of the Boat paintings to highlight the work we have been doing in partnership with the Canal and River Trust, which he is patron of, and talked through my time studying at The Princes Drawing School in London.

The Prince was wonderful to meet, a genuinely interested and approachable man that requested the removal of barriers and did not hesitate to walk amongst the crowds and even make an unplanned visit into a model railway shop 2 doors up the street from our studio!

After the tour of the centre of Burslem the Prince went on to a reception and debate at Middleport Pottery, which was purchased by the Princes Regeneration Trust in 2011. The alignment of the Prince's charities with Burslem gives me great hope for the future of the town which has suffered since the growth of the Asian market in the mass production of pottery, the collapse of the mining industry and the recent recessions. Prior to the Year of the Boat we had spent 5 years working hard at developing the arts scene in the area, the scene is a strong one locally and we hope it will play its part in a regeneration of the town and wider city but to have this recognition and for the town to be highlighted on an international level by the wonderful charities fills us with pride and hope for the future.

You can see more videos and content from the day on 6towns Radio's website  -

Birmingham - Year of the Boat preview evening

Birmingham Exhibition
26th April - 18th May 2013

Some more wonderful photography by Page Seven Photography...

Portrait at Gas Street Basin, at the spot where I painted Oil Painting 38, the photographers were keen to test a comparison of the photograph vs the actual painting (see below)

The painting in the window at Number Nine the Gallery, Brindley Place
Clive Henderson, former Chairman of IWA and influential in the establishment of the Canal and River Trust, alongside his now completed portrait
Tony Hales, Chairman of Canal and River Trust opening the Birmingham show
The presentation of Clive Henderson's portrait. Left to right; Rob Pointon, Clive Henderson, Tony Hales

Well attended launch party

Manchester - Year of the Boat Launch

The April Year of the Boat launch in Manchester was a great success, below are some images taken by the superb photographers Page Seven Photography

Poet Laurette for the Canals - Jo Bell, chatting with Andrew Denny at the launch
The Year of the Boat team - Karen Sayle, Rob Pointon and Carolyn Powell

Look at all that space! The wonderful Artzu Gallery in Spinningfields, Manchester

The launch

Tuesday 9 April 2013

Oil Painting 64 - Sunlit Castlefield

This painting was begun in harsh wind and cold when I was still limited to the boat. I lashed the painting to the stern and weighted the easel down to combat the wind. The painting transformed completely when I finally get to revisit it over a week later. No wind and glorious sunshine made the process easier and more enjoyable. I couldn't get the boat to the same spot though; so I had to readjust the painting to a new vantage point. I really enjoyed this adjustment and the movement within the piece's history.

Oil Painting 63 - Castlefield Reflection

A view from the back of the boat chosen because it was a stunning view of the famous mixed arches and bridges of Castlefield and also because the wispy snow and bitterly cold and strong wind meant I was not straying too far from the warmth of the wood burner. The wind meant the water was not as still as previous reflection studies I have attempted in this project, and it is this distortion of the reflection by the undulating water surface that is the main subject of the piece.

This photograph was taken by the superb Page Seven Photography. Image use can be arranged by emailing

Oil Painting 62 - Above Deansgate Locks

The breach on the Trent and Mersey by Middlewich meant our return to Manchester was via the Macclesfield, Peak Forest and Ashton canals.

After a winter of animations and harsh weather I was eager to get the paints flying again in Manchester, and on the home stretch into Castlefield, I was already spying possible subject matter and left the boat dropping in a lock to run up these stairs to check the view from this metro station.

The shear drop down to the bar terraces and the canal even further below, in contrast to straining your neck to catch the full height of the Beetham Tower was an interesting spacial challenge. I also wanted to depict the dog-legging staircase up to where I was standing as a device to describe the different levels and the banister railings to help reiterate the vertical. It got to the interesting stage where I was having to look through myself to describe the platform.