Posts for Tag : Lanark street art

Lanark’s Closes – Astronomy, Magic, Superstitions and Alchemical Brews

The illustrations for Lanark’s Closes house a veritable ark, with two dogs, two magpies, a cat, lion, unicorn, horse, several chickens and an elephant! But I wanted to add some less obvious details too.

Astronomy – The drawing for Hunter’s Close shows a telescope pointing at Orion’s Belt. David Hunter was not only the first person to install electrical lighting in his shop in Lanark but an enthusiastic astronomer he was commissioned by the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh to make a telescope.

Locating Orion’s Belt is the easiest way to find Orion, the hunter. I chose Orion as a pointer to Lanark’s coat of arms with its two hunting dogs when the Forests of Lanark were Royal hunting grounds.

Orion’s Belt is also known in British folklore as Jacob’s Rod, Peter’s Staff, The Golden Yard-arm, The Ell, the Yard Wand, Our Lady’s Wand, the Magi, the Three King’s, the Three Mary’s or simply the Three Stars.

Magic – The dandelion clock in each drawing symbolises wishes and hopes for the future. Who hasn’t blown on a dandelion clock and made a wish? I believe in the power of positive thinking and positive intentions. Mind magic! We create our own reality with our thinking. Or as Einstein famously said “The most important decision is life is to decide whether it is a friendly or hostile Universe!”

The saying ‘If Wishes Were Horses’ was first recorded in by James Carmichael by Tinto in the 1700’s. In several drawings a magpie holds a single seed, the seed of a good idea is indeed magical.

Alchemical Brews – Brewery Close led to Gilroy’s, The Brewers. I decided to add the formula for brewing, or how to make a potion, to the drawing in the hope that it might interest someone. Brewed dandelions are an incredible medicine for lots of things too! For those who like a more simple brew, the kettle’s on in Ritchie’s Close!

**

Superstition. Two magpies for joy appear in every drawing. Does anyone else say ‘Good morning Mr Magpie’ if they see a solitary magpie to counter ‘one for sorrow?’

The spider that appears in the window of McKenzies Close is not only a reference to the weaving industry but a money spider, creating abundance! One dead magpie lies on the floor, symbolising the demise of this once huge industry in Lanark.

Lucky horse shoes appear in the image for Duncan’s Close, which is also a reference to Riding the Marches every year during Lanimer week in order to retain Lanark’s Royal Burgh status. Duncan’s Close housed both smiths and stone masons. One dog has a paw on a March Stone showing the importance of the symbolic stone.

**

Close Encounters opens today at 10am at the Tolbooth Lanark. The twelve original drawings for the street history panels are for sale alongside drawings of the backs of the Closes by Ronnie Cruwys.

Beware of Bull – Close Encounters with the Community Bull!

Bull’s Close, Lanark was so named as it was where the community bull was historically kept. I love the idea of a community bull! It’s easy to forget that farm-yard animals, especially chickens, lived amongst people in towns.

During lockdown many people have returned to keeping chickens and growing their own vegetables, including me, and there are an increasing number of community gardens, which has to be a brilliant thing.

I’ve also noticed that during lockdown people seem to have got kinder too. Have you noticed that?

Truthfully, I’m dreading a return to noisy skies with people flying around the planet filling their bucket list! The only bucket I’m interested in is the one that holds black gold, ie compost and manure, and is used to grow plants and trees. Creativity not destruction!

My fantasy is a community art forest. The vision is that we plant native and hardwood trees and the forest has interesting art in it too, beautiful seating, planting that frames views… An inspiring place on many levels.

Anyone want to help make something like this happen locally? There will be plenty of enthusiasm!

Do you have a piece of land that would be suitable that they would like to put in trust for an Art Woodland/Forest? (‘You don’t get if you don’t ask!’ my grandmother told me!)

In Japan there is a new healing art called ‘Shirin Yoku’ aka Forest Bathing, where folk are encouraged to be in and with nature. What a brilliant idea. A forest heals people and the planet!

Writing about the community bull has inspired me to share my thoughts. Thank you bull! Slow down, be in nature, stay in your home area more as a long term decision, support local, plant trees…

There is so much beauty to explore locally. It’s not sustainable to run around the planet in crazy self serving ways for much longer!

We are the spoilt and spoiling generation!

Let’s not talk about ‘getting back to normal’ but create an extraordinary thoughtful future for all the young folk. It is terrible to know, from my visits to primary schools to talk to children about their vision for Lanark in the future, that these young souls are anxious about the planet’s future and feel helpless.

Close Encounters with the natural world is the way forward! Please do get in touch if you want to help me find a way to create an art forest for the future!

Love Kirsten and Lanark’s Community Bull!

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Bull’s Close, Lanark.

Buns and Pies – More Waffle on Creating a Series of Illustrations

The commissioners had wanted a different type of art for the panels that were going to adorn the town – serious, proper art! I would have to hope that Lanark, which always seems a good humoured and chilled-out kind of town, would respond to a bit of quirky humour instead. It’s odd being second choice artist when you think the original choice of artist was better qualified for the job too. That very human odd couple, ego and self doubt, would have to leave the room before getting on with the job!

Veitch’s Close had been home to a popular baker.  I had already established my supporting cast of characters, (blog here) so warm Scotch pies and begging dogs for the next illustration. The dogs, that reoccur throughout the series, are taken from Lanark’s 600 year old heraldic coat of arms. I reckoned they must be hungry! 

The drawing is set in the 50’s when men wore flat caps and women scarves. After a year of lockdown hair – bring back the scarf! 

In the original drawing I messed up the spelling of the word ‘Scotch!’ Working in pen and ink, this is a disaster as it means redrawing the whole thing. Lovely Jenny at Lanarkshire Print House came to the rescue and deleted the clumsy word on photoshop, then posted out a print so I could rewrite ‘Scotch’ for the artwork to be printed onto the panels. Thank you Jenny!

My favourite bit in the drawing is the dog sniffing a chicken poking out of a women’s string bag. 

Hopefully the drawing gives a sense of gossip and chat as people queue for their buns and pies. Nothing much has changed has it? We’re still prepared to queue for a warm Scotch pie!

Close Encounters opens on the 26th of April at The Tolbooth Lanark. All twelve original artworks for the Lanark Closes street art panels are available to buy alongside Ronnie Cruwys’s beautiful and atmospheric paintings of the backs of the Closes.

Two Dogs, a Cat, Two Magpies and a Dandelion Clock – On Illustrating Lanark’s Closes

When I was asked to illustrate the history of Lanark’s Closes I was provided with some factual info about their past. I love history so found it interesting but also dry, as these things often are. I needed to find a way to give the information some life through illustrations that hopefully both children and adults would enjoy.

I began by looking at Lanark’s heraldic shield. Lanark is a Royal Burgh. On its 600 year old heraldry I noticed two dogs. Here was the start of an idea.

Lanark had been royal hunting grounds in Medieval times so this is why, I presume, the dogs are on the shield. I decided the dogs would appear in each cartoon providing a bit of fun and mischief but also linking into the long past of Lanark. Six hundred year old dogs were going to be given a new lease of life and turned into cartoon characters.

Now I had dogs I wanted a cat for cat lovers. Around the corner from the high street is the statue of ‘The Girnin’ Dug.’ The local story of neighbourhood feuds involves a cat chase, so here was my cat.

One idea was leading to another but now I had a cat I wanted two birds. I chose two magpies to symbolise ‘two for joy’ as I wanted the panels to be positive for the town. Lastly, I added a dandelion clock.

Much of my artwork over the past few years has been inspired by the saying ‘If Wishes Were Horses’, which was first recorded by James Carmichael in his book of Scottish proverbs in 1628. The Carmichael lands lie just outside Lanark by Tinto Hill, from where the Clydesdale Horse originates too.

So the dandelion clock acts a kind of signature of my artwork plus referencing more local history, as well as a positive symbol of hope, wishes coming true and transformation.

The dandelion clock too as a reminder of the huge importance of wildflowers as pollinators for bees. I sincerely hope that people will stop seeing dandelions as weeds but as the miraculous plants they are!

Now I had a cast of characters to use in each panel to link the Close illustrations together and attempt to bring to life the hustle and bustle of a busy market town over the centuries.

The historical facts could now wrap around these repeating elements. I really hope locals and visitors to Lanark enjoy the set of 12 drawings. Here is the first pre – drawing I made to bring the dogs to life.

I think we need to name Lanark’s two dogs!?

www.kirstenharrisart.com

The original artwork is going on exhibition and is also for sale, including this first pre project drawing of the heraldic shield …

Time Passages

Medieval Lanark – a walled town

The Tolbooth on the left. Notice the thatched Medieval cottage to the left of that

I love the idea of time travel – finding portals that allow you to travel into a history that’s still alive through fragments in the environment. Clues like echoes or ghosts of souls that trod before us. 

Lanark has twelve remaining Medieval public waythrough ‘time passages’ in the form of Closes (covered alleyways) from the High Street, then the King’s Highway.

Two years ago I visited 5 local primary schools and did a ‘town planning’ art project with the children. The children were asked how Lanark could be a better place. Classroom teachers then developed the ideas with the children which led to a wonderful exhibition at The Tolbooth.

Linking ideas of art, history, landscape, street design, architecture, environment, play, nature, gardens and community…  the children worked individually and in groups and came up with BRILLIANT ideas.

Seriously, I think children should have more of a say in the decisions that go on in the community. Their ideas were both creative and imaginative as well as thoughtful and loving, showing a high level of concern for others and the environment. 

One simple recurring theme was that Lanark’s Closes were dark and scary. Since then the Closes have been sympathetically painted in a light colour and lighting has been installed. During lockdown I was commissioned by Discover Lanark to illustrate the history. The panels were put up in town a month ago. 

Bull’s close, where the town’s community bull was kept! The Tolbooth is at the white building at the bottom of the high st

Each panel has information about the history, and ‘underground’ type map and an illustration that I hope is a ‘time passage’ in itself. Hopefully children will no longer find the closes scary but find humour and a history treasure trail in the drawings.

The more I looked the more I found. If you look at the entrance of Bernard’s Wynd, the entrance is set back to the level of the original Medieval wall. The higgledy piggledy Medieval town was later straightened out with buildings required to be built forward into a straight line.

Interesting to note how the Tolbooth still sticks out. Perhaps it was too important at the time to be changed. I believe it was council rooms then! Although looking at the thatched buildings in the old postcard it looks as though there may have been a close running in that direction that was built over when straightening occurred. Just noticing that now looking at the postcard in the context of the closes. More clues! Love it!

The line of the enclosed Medieval building at Bernard’s Wynd continues through the inside of The Horse and Jockey pub next door. Will definitely need to go and check that out when doors open.

At the back of Bernards Wynd are stone remnants of two arched Medieval windows, the house where William Wallace is believed to have stayed while in Lanark.

The Tolbooth is opening with Close Encounters on 26th April to celebrate Lanark’s historic past.

Exhibited will be 12 beautiful atmospheric paintings depicting the backs of the Closes by restoration architect turned painter, Ronnie Cruwys of Drawing the Street and the 12 original illustrations for the street panels. Plus historic photographs will be shown on the screen.

All original artwork is for sale – twenty four opportunities to invest in a little bit of Lanark’s history!

Ronnie and I look forward to seeing you there. 

Thanks for reading

Kirsten

www.kirstenharrisart.com

See all the close images below poster…