Monday, 29 May 2017

Sketch Crawl : Ryhope Pumping Station

Marker and brush pen in A5 sketchbook
(The brush pen tones were added later)

Saturday started very promisingly: the spell of hot weather appeared to be continuing and when Richard picked me up from Low Fell, he was sporting his shorts for what he assured me was the first time of the year. I assured him I had a cap in case of a sunburnt scalp, but also a small umbrella in case of ... English weather.

When we got to Ryhope Pumping Station the sun was still overhead and Michael was already drawing away on the lawn. The lure of powerful Victorian machinery was more than Richard and I could stand, so we went inside the main building just to check things out before settling down to sketch.

As soon as we were inside the heavens opened.

This was one of the days when the pumping engines were powered up and to all intents and purposes were operating just as when they were installed, except that no water was pumped up to enter the local water supply.

The machinery is beautiful and mesmerising, with huge cast iron Doric columns and delightful detailing on essentially minor parts. I found it genuinely difficult to drag myself away from watching the pistons, flywheels and beams, but eventually I stood and drew the second of the objects above. I've no idea what it might be and probably don't really care.

The rain eventually stopped and we ventured outside, where I admit I found the elaborate style of the building, coupled with the very tall chimney at one end too much to cope with in compositional terms. I should perhaps have decided on a small part of it and stuck to that. Instead, however, I drew the cast iron object with the door and the chains, again with no knowledge of what it might be. A 19th century iron maiden, perhaps? 

Cups of tea and slices of Victoria sponge in the cafe accompanied our sharing of sketchbooks before going home.

Next time: Mouth of the Ouseburn, 10th June 2017.

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