House on Crutches Museum and Local Artists:
Art and Heritage in Collaboration

In 2009 volunteers from the House on Crutches Museum approached a number of local artists to discuss ‘populating’ the museum with life-sized figures. Following visits to the museum and familiarising themselves with some of the stories told there, the artists came up with ideas and sketches which were enthusiastically approved by the House on Crutches Executive Committee. In 2010 the figures made their first appearance in the museum, and found their final positions in time for the 2011 season.

Andrew Farmer’s figure illustrates the story of two young men, Martin and Bright, who worked for a grocer’s on The Square and decided that instead of carrying the heavy cheeses they would roll them down the cobbles. The inevitable happened, and a cheese ended up on the corner of Harley Jenkins Street (near the modern day Co-op) in a thousand pieces. Needless to say Martin and Bright got the sack!

Andrew Farmer trained as an Information Graphic Designer at Harrow School of Art in the late 60s and returned to teach BA students design and drawing skills while pursuing a career as a freelance illustrator mainly in publishing.

He moved in 1993 from London to the tranquillity of the Clun Valley and untamed beauty of south Shropshire which has inspired his photographic work. Despite being away from the pace of London he still produces illustration work, primarily for Penguin Books, his last project being ‘Dickens a Life’ by Claire Tomalin.

Bishop’s Castle was a notorious Rotten Borough, and the cost of a vote was generally reckoned to be about £25. The illustration which shows ‘The Parliamentary Candidate’ having just given a bribe to a potential voter was made by Alan Sidney who is a member of the Oral History group here at the BCHRC.

Alan Sidney’s background is in the visual arts which he studied in the graphics department of the Liverpool College of Art, after which, following a period of teaching in a college he became involved with ceramics. For more than forty years his ceramic sculptures have been seen in innumerable group and solo exhibitions across Britain and Europe as well as in many publications.

He is a Fellow of the Craft Potters Association and he continues to make his ceramic sculptures at his studio here in Bishop’s Castle.

The Policeman who is hoping to catch Martin and Bright was designed and produced by Ann McDonald and Sue Percy.

Ann and Sue also collaborated on the figure of the governess and young girl, representing Sarah Pearson and her charge Sarah Morris who together produced one of our treasures, the sampler currently on view in the Town Room upstairs in the museum.

Ann Macdonald is currently a member of both Bishop’s Castle Arts Society and Castle Artists. She took up painting when she retired from teaching in 1998 but had previously been a textile designer. Her preferred medium is watercolour but she also uses acrylics, pen and ink and pastel.

Having retired from teaching in 2000, Sue Percy revisited one of her favourite hobbies - painting. On moving to Bishop’s Castle in 2001 she joined the Bishop’s Castle Arts Society and, later, Castle Artists. Sue exhibits her art work with both groups and also enjoys being involved with local projects, for example designing the life-size policeman figure.

The colourful banner above was made for the House on Crutches Museum Collection Trust by Beth Hendley, who trained as a printed textiles designer and designed fabrics for the fashion trade for over 20 years. She then taught Art, Design and Textiles in a secondary school, leaving after 6 years to do more community-based art projects. She has led many art workshops in woods and forests for the AONB, the National Trust, schools and groups in Shropshire and mid-Wales. The Bishop’s Castle Playing Field committee asked her to lead a mosaic dragon bench workshop in the new playing field, and she has led many printing workshops for the Michaelmas Fair committee in Bishop’s Castle printing banners for the town. She also led the Big Draw drawing project for the BCHRC for two years running, focussing on the Candle Factory fire in the town in 1901 and the Bishop’s Castle railway.

She has always done her own personal art and textiles work, largely in multi-media, using print and machine embroidery and collage, and in recent years has explored fibres, fabrics and threads using diverse techniques

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