Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Sketchbook No.2 (#1)























Northern Goldsmiths, 4th November 1990 
(Fine point marker and sepia ArtPen in A4 sketchbook))

Having begun a course in painting with the OCA, I decided I needed to get serious about my sketchbook, so this drawing is the first done in a lovely black bound A4 sketchbook from Atlantis.

It was a freezing cold Saturday afternoon in November and I stood on a corner of Westgate Road to draw this great example of Victorian Newcastle. I was just outside a pub that was later closed for allowing drug dealing on the premises..My thermal socks, fingerless gloves and whisky-primed hip flask failed to keep me warm and by the time I went home I was almost frozen solid.

It's interesting to note that in 1990 there were still flocks of starlings settling on the tops of buildings. Even individual starlings are a rare sight in town now.

12 comments:

Alex said...

Awesome looking sketch! Very dark and very Oliver Twist-like :)

harry bell said...

Glad you like it, Alex. An interesting comparison, but I see what you mean.

kate said...

Beautifully rendered, Harry. Very atmospheric and the sepia
strokes make me feel like I'm looking at aged brick.
Love the architecture!

harry bell said...

Thank you very much, Kate. It's always been one of my favourite buildings.

Alan Dorey said...

It was worth the agony of frozen limbs: is the building still there? It's great to capture such examples of everyday architecture as despite planning restrictions in urban areas, too many structures just disappear over time. When I lived in Leeds back in the 70s/80s there were acres of back-to-backs and cobbled streets, complete with corners shops and pubs of a similar style to the one you drew: mostly now all gone or adapted out of all recognition. Although I'm not against change, there is something special about drawings which preserve the past better than many a photograph.

harry bell said...

The building is still there, Alan. although it's no longer a branch of Northern Goldsmiths, the golden naked lady on top of the gold clock is still there, I'm pleased to say. You can just make her out in the drawing, on the corner of the building.

Newcastle went through a bad period of municipal vandalism in the 70s but the Dan Smith/Poulson corruption case put an end to plans for more of it.

By going through these old sketchbooks, I'm beginning to think again about my role in preserving images of buildings like this. So there may be more to come in the future.

VivJM said...

Love your drawing. Very atmospheric!

harry bell said...

Thank you, Viv.

bleeni said...

So nice! I can feel the chill here! Love the birds; sorry to hear they are rare now. Any reason for the rarity?

harry bell said...

Glad you like it, bleeni. Starlings used to roost on the buildings at night, but were discouraged by nets over ledges. But the real reason for their decline is unknown.

Joan said...

When first I looked at your sketch my thought was: Oh, Tale of Two Cities! I love that much of Europe has retained many of their unique architectural bldgs, bridges, homes...so much history there. Unlike the USA, particularly the city where I live. If it's 30 yrs old it MUST be imploded...this is Las Vegas, NV, the city that never sleeps.

harry bell said...

It's that sense of history that I love about Europe and especially the area I live in (the "new" castle of Newcastle dates back to 1080, but the Romans were here long before that) The only problem we have with our old buildings is finding a use for them - the solidly built Victorian offices are very difficult to cable up for computing and fire regulations prevent them from being used as public spaces, such as galleries, above ground floor level.