Steam trains are full of nostalgia and carry a
wonderful presence and atmosphere with them as
they thunder through the countryside.
The clatter, clatter of the carriages on the
rails, the chuffing of the powerful engine itself, not mention
the whistle as it approaches imbue a
Northamptonshire’s heritage is deeply rooted in
these, awesome machines from that bygone era and we can see
evidence of them everywhere in the Nene valley, just go for a
walk down at Stanwick or Irthlingborough lakes. The various
railway museums in the area at Irchester, Rushden and further
afield in Lamport are all testimony to the immense impact and
scale of the industrial era in Northamptonshire.
This June hundreds of people came out to witness
the legendary steam locomotive the Flying Scotsman pass
through the Nene valley. The ‘Nations Favourite
Locomotive’ as it is known was completed in Doncastor,
24 February 1923 and designed by Sir Nigel
Gresley for the London to Edinburgh rail service that started
in 1862. The train has been fully restored over ten
years at a cost of 4.2 million.
Below are some photographs that show how I made a text
painting from the words of an article about the Flying Scotsman and
its history. If you look closely you can read
facts about this marvelous locomotive in the artwork.
As a local artist in Irthlingborough, I was inspired by
remarkable drone footage of the Scotsman, as it crossed the
scenic Harringworth viaduct, to undertake a new text based
painting; text is taken from the website www.flyingscotsman.org.uk and
i used it to create a collage of this awesome
As part of Open
Studios 2016 , I will be exhibiting this
artwork and selling prints at Kettering
train station, platform 1 in the Civic Societies,
'Time Travellers' room
If you would like your own signed print please contact me
at , or visit my ETSY store
where you can make an order!
It takes a long time to grow an old friend. ~John
Recently I was commissioned to make four new cross designs to
celebrate the life of a group of friends in our town,
Irthlingborough. Doreen, Mary, Ann and Pam were all born within
weeks of each other in 1938 at neighbouring houses on Nicholas
Road. They were named the Nicholas Road 'quads' by the nurse that
delivered them all, and this was the start of their life long
They enjoyed a wonderful childhood playing in the fields,
jumping the brooks, chasing rabbits, listening to birds and
collecting frog spawn; they shared many happy memories growing up
together and the three remaining quads: Doreen, Mary and Pam, are
still friends today.
To make these crosses I asked Doreen to write about her
friends and the memories she wanted to celebrate in the designs and
when this was done I printed the words out in colour and used them
to collage the ideas and imagery together. Each cross reflects both
a shared memory and something individual to each of the
The first cross showing the toy horse was made for Mary: the
four of them had an argument over this toy, owned by Mary when they
were very young. (There is photograph of them as children on the
back.) The second cross showing a milk churn was given to Pam, as
her father had the milk round. The third cross shows a frog on the
front to as a reminder of the days that the girls used to spend
collecting frogspawn, and on the back, the group together at sixty
years old. This cross was was given to Pete, Ann's husband, as she
passed away a few years ago. Finally, the last cross, for Doreen,
shows the local church, St. Peters, and a photograph of Nicholas
Road, the street the girls knew so well.
I like friends who, when you tell them you need a moment
alone, know enough not to stray too far. ~Robert Brault
We all value our friends and know that when we need them
they will always be around to simply listen to our concerns and
also share the happy times. Here are some facts about
There is specific, scientific
criteria for a good friendship including,
having common interests, history or shared
experiences, common values and equality or giving support to each
other on a consistent basis.
What makes a friend worthy of the name? A commitment to
your happiness is a sure sign of a true friend. When someone
is consistently willing to put your happiness before your
Not asking you to place the friendship before your principles.
A true friend won't ask you to compromise your principles in the
name of your friendship or anything else. Ever.
A good influence. A true friend inspires you to live up to your
best potential, not to indulge your basest drives.
A lot of my closest friends are those ones whom I have known
for a long time. Even though I don't see as much of them as I would
like, I know they are there when I need them. One friend lives far
away in Canada and another in the next town.
One friend once said to me, "through everything, you have
always been there". That stuck in mind as being a great testament
to a strong friendship.
It gave me so much joy to make these crosses because it
reminded me of how important our friendships are and how we can
make each others lives so rich. As an artist it is a wonderful
challenge to re-create a persons story through an
artwork. But, importantly Doreen is a good friend
of mine too, and making art is about giving and sharing how
we see the world, with others.
I am always looking for the next artwork to create and
story to tell and love to make portraits too.