Never one to take the easy route, I decided to make a series of woodcuts for the Basingstoke Project. I’d never done woodcut before (I’d scarcely done any block printing, either, but I did do a few lino cuts in advance of the woodcut work). I did a bit of research (I asked a nice man in the office upstairs) and decided to use birch-faced plywood, which I acquired precut in 30 cm square panels.
St. Michael’s, the town centre church by the Malls, was my first subject. I’m keeping to churches and there are now two blocks cut, and likely to be at least one more. I have a few ideas about reprinting from these blocks for the exhibition, and you can expect a few interesting variations…
Incredible Edible is a lovely idea, and a surprise for anyone taking a walk round War Memorial Park, Basingstoke. Not far from the skateboard park, it’s a community orchard planted by volunteers, so that passers by can enjoy a healthy snack of fruit and nuts plucked straight from trees with wonderful names: Deacon’s Blushing Beauty, Nettlestone Pippin and the Howgate Wonder to name just three. My oil painting shown here is an artistic interpretation of the place (where I took the photo). I just finished painting another one on the same theme, taking in the skatepark too, but you’ll have to visit The Basingstoke Project to see it at Proteus Theatre’s Creation Space gallery, Council Road, Basingstoke, 16 – 26 November.
This is part of the front of one of the oldest buildings in Basingstoke, St. Michael’s Church Cottage. I was struck by the brickwork and the timbers that divide the building into blocks… so it seems entirely appropriate that I used block printing for the bricks. I cut two brick patterns on 7x7cm lino blocks; after printing the brickwork, I used the roller directly on the paper before switching to a painting knife, still using the printing inks.
Today, I had two appointments in Basingstoke with a few hours between them. I took advantage of the time to seek out some interesting buildings.
The Lutyens Building
Edwin Lutyens, a highly successful British architect, ran a brick and tile works in Basingstoke in the early 20th century. Apparently, the local clay was of superior quality. The office building still survives, nestling incongruously amongst the modern industrial units of the Kingsland Estate.
Former office of Daneshill Brick and Tile Works. Designed 1909 by Lutyens, to display the company’s products at the Olympia Building Exhibition. Single storey of red brick with tiled roof. ‘Tudor’ moulded brick chimneys. Parapet of brick and tile. Bay windows with brick mullions and transoms. Brick fireplaces.
Not one of Hampshire’s Treasures, the nearby Thermofisher Scientific site has an impressive white chimney.
The Chapel of the Holy Ghost
Just up the hill from the railway station lie the ruins of the Chapel of the Holy Ghost.
Holy Ghost, South View. Built between 1214 and 1244. Originally a chancel and nave with a tower at the west end. Fragment remaining in cemetery is part of tower, used for many years as a schoolroom. Remains of inserted 4-centred arch and C.15 window survive.
I am unduly fond of ruins. Now that I have found it (it was the first time that I have visited either of these “treasures”), I may have to return…
The covered-over town centre continues to inspire. Here, a snatched photograph of shoppers in the Malls becomes a comment on solitude as well as on the artificial environment.
Painted with a knife in acrylics.
Did you know that an estate car and two artists with easels can fit comfortably into a multi-storey parking bay? “Art on the Street” as a name struck a chord with my own heart, so I signed up to receive news of the doings of this Maidenhead-based venture when I encountered them at the Reading Contemporary Art Fair. Noticing they were advertising an art competition, I knew what Amanda’s answer would be when I asked her “Fancy a trip to Maidenhead”? It was all very finely-timed. Our diaries allowed us only one free day in which to paint and deliver original artworks depicting Maidenhead, a town neither of us knew, before the closing date. So yesterday we set off from Newbury just before 10, and drove to Maidenhead centre (with a short stop-off to reconnoitre the Islamic centre, a park, the back of the fire station and a church). Dismissing these quickly as subjects; after all, we needed to be true to the competition theme: Maidenhead and Me, depicting what Maidenhead meant to us, we finally arrived, just on 11 a.m., at the top deck of the multistorey car park, and found our spot. We set up our easels in the bay we’d parked in so as to cause no disruption, and started to paint. Amanda had a vantage point overlooking terraced town houses, and I, facing the opposite way, fulfilled a secret long-cherished ambition to paint the curling architecture of the spiral down-ramp of a multi-storey. The paintings we produced in two and a half hours were probably not our greatest works, but we got them delivered and handed in with our completed entry forms to Boville’s Art Shop, and came home pleased with ourselves having had a lot of fun, back in time for Amanda to meet her children after school. I wasn’t quite sure why I felt so pleased, but reflecting afterwards, perhaps it’s because our mission statement as Artikinesis expresses the aim of taking art into places where art isn’t usually created or displayed. We’d done just that, on our multi-storey car-park roof.
As Amanda commented, “The British public are very polite”. Although I’d half expected security guards to spot us on CCTV and come up to move us on, in fact nobody betrayed any surprise at our impromptu open-air studio. A toddler dragged his mum over to have a look at us, and one chap, parking in the bay next door, asked me if it was OK to park there, worrying he might be blocking my view. Other than that, and a few well-wishers, we were respectfully left to get on with it. All entries to the Maidenhead and Me competition will be displayed in Nicholson’s Shopping Centre from September 26th. Artikinesis: Making art wherever we happen to be Fired and inspired by nature – by life in the modern world Connecting with places where art is a stranger Artikinesis – inner vision, interaction, movement and spirit.
Four of the five Artikinesians met up in Basingstoke on Monday for our first big sketching expedition in the town. We barely scratched the surface. Starting at Eastrop Park, it was all too easy to get waylaid by shiny buildings and busy pedestrians, not to mention the waterfowl and fountains. However, we did make it to Festival Place and beyond – to St Michael’s church – but time was running short and we decided to leave the remainder of our potential itinerary to a future time.
This development is properly called Crown Heights, but also wears the moniker “The Costa del Basingstoke“. It is a distinctive landmark in Basingstoke and is particularly striking from the top of the Anvil car park.
This is the second 30 x 30 cm painting in a planned series that I am calling “Disjointed”.
I took myself off to Basingstoke today, to the town centre. I wanted to capture the “Costa del Basingstoke”, a striking yellow and blue development that overlooks the Anvil car park. (The Anvil is Basingstoke’s main concert venue; its car park is conveniently close to the covered over part of the town centre, as well as the railway station and a particularly pretty part of not-covered-over town. The car park also has the benefit of not being the Festival Place car park, which is enormous and confusing. I think it might even have a roof that can’t be parked upon).
With a quick sketch (and several quicker photographs) complete, I headed off to outside-the Malls. I (re)discovered that the name of the church that dominates the area is St. Michaels, and was subsequently amused by the fact that Marks and Spencer have a back door opposite the church.
I then returned to my car via the Malls.
Joice’s Yard – once a stable yard, then the site of John Joice’s coach building business – is now a small town centre car park. It is surrounded by interesting buildings. This is one such; or perhaps it is two. For where the road cuts through from Winchester Road into the yard, this substantial property can be seen to bear, upon its end, the revenant of a former neighbour.
I find this sort of thing fascinating. So much so, indeed, that I painted this “ghost building” twice.