On this sunny morning I had set up my portable easel on the banks of the river Severn in Worcester. Behind me was the Worcestershire Cricket ground, where I could hear the popping of the cricket balls as the players practiced in the nets. In front of me flowed the river with a few canal boats and leisure craft drifting by, with, beyond that on the other bank, rose the exulted 62m (203.41ft) tower of Worcester Cathedral which was built between 1084-1504.
A perfect view, no rain was forecast, it was going to be a pleasant day. The previous day however could not have been more different.
Getting to Worcester
I was commissioned to paint a number of scenes in The Cotswolds as well as one in Worcester too. The great plan was to work my way up the centre of England painting as I went, finally ending up in Worcester to stay the night and then paint the Cathedral in the morning. It was a fine plan though my sat-nav decided otherwise.
It went wrong the moment I left the house so I spent the first part of the day wondering about the country only to arrive at the clients home over two hours late. They were kind enough to rehydrate me, then point me to the bit of town they wished to be painted. I was very late now. I only had time for a few quick visuals to be in time to get to a phone shop before it closes to get the sat nav fixed.
Once the cursed thing was fixed i figured that it was impossible to get anything else done in The Cotswolds, I’d have to go straight to Worcester, and begin again in the morning. Still late, I arrived at the B&B starving, flustered, with near nothing to show for the day. Life as an artist!
Going out in Worcester
Naturally I made for the nearest pub, this being The Bush Inn, a handsome grade II listed Victorian pub tucked into a corner of a small street at the St John’s end of town. My cure began with a few fine quality real ales accompanied by a packet of deep fried pork fat (known as scratchings to the British).
I was very hungry now and was tempted by the Chinese place next door – The Wokstar! I eventually plumbed for The Shimla Kebab & Grill just up the road. This place seemed to sell everything which is generally a very bad sign for an eatery, though in this case I was wrong.
I ate a delicious lamb Tikka with another beer, or maybe it was two? I really liked the Shimla Kebab & Grill which boasts ‘Probably the best naan in Worcester’. Also any place that advertises a ‘Half Pounder Cheese Burger’ as a ‘Healthy Option’ has my vote.
I mused that the day ended better than it began as I climbed into bed.
A painting of Worcester Cathedral
The client wanted the view from across the river and I can certainly see why. It is extremely impressive, even in modern times where we are used to skyscrapers. In rural Worcestershire in the 14th century the this scene must have been unimaginably awe-inspiring. especially as it sits rather high on the bank on what must have been an ancient bluff.
I decided to work up this idea in my visual, adding in a few other surrounding structures and stripping away foliage on the larger trees which partially obscured the great window in the nave.
Below that, I added a few figures on the old tow path to give it a bit of scale and humanity. I just can’t imagine architecture without people – I just don’t understand it when i see architectural painting without a few figures dotted about. Finally i added one of the canal boats.
Looking at it I felt I had enough on me to work up a final painting back in the studio. I had hoped to have time to look around Worcester Cathedral itself. I wouldn’t have minded seeing the tomb of King John (24 December 1166 – 19 October 1216), he who reluctantly signed The Magna Carta in 1215, then promptly ignored it all a few months later.
Unfortunately that would have to wait for another day as I had to catch up on the work i missed the day before in The Cotswolds. I shall leave that for another painting story.