This is Packwood House, built by a 16th century family of yoeman farmers (including the second generation lawyer) who accumulated land and built this house through their own labour, likely the unrecognised labour of the household’s women, and the labour of other hired workers (for example, it was extended by Roger Hurlbutt, a notable master carpenter, in 1670).  In the eighteenth century that family laid out the huge yew topiary representing the twelve apostles and their master. That lineage having foundered, the much modified Elizabethan house was transformed into a twentieth century artwork by Graham Baron Ash, who incorporated architectural structures from old buildings facing demolition and historical objects harvested from salesrooms.  These included a bed slept in by a queen the eve before giving battle and a chimney piece that might once have warmed Shakespeare’s arse. This Ash was fourth generation of a line of business men, two generations prospering through four surviving sons, moving from grocery into manufacturing from zinc. Their company, Ash and Lacey, still operates today: it reported in 2018 a gender pay gap of 15.9% commenting this is lower than the national average.  Most zinc is mined.  I cannot tell where the Ash family’s zinc originated, perhaps from northern India during the Empire, nor the labour conditions by which the metal was extracted.



10 responses to “Meditation

  1. Love the top one’s colours.
    The house and church look idyllic and just the sort of place I’d fantasize about living/owning, therefore very interesting you have pulled out the background behind them. Good to question the beautiful as well as the ugly.

    • Thank you.
      This is what I mean by meditation. I cycled over to Packwood House and then on to St Michaels Church Baddesley Clinton, two preserv d old buildings about ten miles from where I live. I’m not drawing much, so the sketching felt very unfree (compare with Rosie Scribblah’s simple charcoal sketches). When I came home I sat and emptied my mind, Drew the third picture with my eyes shut then worked into it with crayon then gouache. Truthfully it’s also enhanced in my scaled down photoshop in the iPad to separate the fore and background.
      It’s a doodle really.

    • When drawing I typically just look at line, tone, shape etc. The discussion about statues, slavery and Black Lives Matters reminded me to see these old buildings as representations in stone of relationships and labour, and following the money that paid for them. It’s simple research using readily available secondary sources, no great shakes. But still it can inform the art.
      The charcoal was on rough Stillman and Birn paper in a pad. The house in on Amazon parcel wrap, starting in charcoal, then worked into using conte crayon. The fantasy doodle was also on the same wrap. The wrap is not a great medium though.

    • Yes – that was sort of the idea in the end. That was why I called it meditation. Id been out drawing, not very free sketching, forcing myself to draw. Then when I got back I just let myself doodle and develop the image. I couldnt have done this if i hadnt made the first two drawings.

      • I understand. I’m 72 and still learning, still discovering, still trying out new ways in art – I was going to add ‘and in life’, but I’m not so sure now! 🙂

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