Posts for Tag : Medieval Lanark

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 …

Open Wide – More on Illustrating Lanark’s Medieval Closes

When I was asked to illustrate the history of Lanark’s Medieval Closes, for information panels to be displayed in the street, I was shocked, to say the least! I am definitely not known for images of buildings! Animals yes, dandelion clocks yes, horses yes, buildings, no! Perspective, Argh! ‘Steer clear’ has always been my motto!

I suggested another local artist but was told that she’d been asked and turned the job down saying she could draw buildings but felt she didn’t have the imagination to bring the history to life. So number 2 choice happily said ‘yes’! A job during lockdown and a challenge sounded more than fantastic!

It was obviously time to learn to draw buildings, take on perspective and create narratives. Sack the perfectionist, I decided, and create some comedy and fun to illuminate the history. A bit of possibly dodgy perspective wouldn’t matter and at least there was an elephant in one of the histories so I knew I would be able to do that!

The backside of the elephant was no problem having painted hundreds of elephants. I decided an elephants bum was funnier than a head poking out of the Close. Cartooning people in historically apt costume made me smile and wonder about the lives of folk in the past. So just a matter of some windows and an arch. Bingo!  First one done.

I realised this project was already a lesson to learn not to say ‘I can’t’ do something, ie draw buildings, just because I’ve never done it before! How often do we do that in life? Anyone relate? My mind and art were being opened wider by the Wide Close.

Wide Close was one of the gates to Lanark when it was a Medieval walled town and has a much bigger opening than any of the other Closes because of this.

So why an elephant in central Scotland? Here is the story from a book written in 1895 for anyone who plays the lottery or like me, loves elephants.

I haven’t rewritten it as the style it is written in is a lot of fun. I hope you enjoy the story. 

Close Encounters opens 26th April at the Tolbooth Lanark. The original illustration are for sale with a certificate of authenticity. There are only 12 illustrations up for grabs and 12 paintings of the backs of the Closes by Ronnie Cruwys. Her paintings remind me of Van Gogh. Just fabulous! Poster below.

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

We look forward to seeing you at this celebration of a little bit of the history of the Royal Burgh of Lanark.