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Terrible times and tall tales

Everyone loves a good story, don’t they?

Those who know me, and readers of this blog, will know that throughout the current pandemic, I’ve been shielding because my underlying health conditions put me in a vulnerable group. I find it hard to sit still at the best of times and so being locked-down has been very frustrating.  I’ve been drawing (of course) and listening to podcasts and, my favourite occupation, drawing while listening to podcasts.

Duncan Grant: Cheesy bug lino print
To me this is a ‘cheesy bug’

I’ve always been interested in the way that stories, and particularly words, are passed from place to place and down the generations through oral transmission.

Those of you that have been following me on Facebook for a while will know that I’m fascinated by how the names for ‘woodlouse’ vary from place to place, even within a few miles, so much so that what you call this prehistoric creature is a pretty good indicator of where you come from.

If you’re from a few miles down the road from me in Medway, you might call them ‘pea bugs’, or if you come from Canterbury, maybe, ‘monkey peas’.  Other names are ‘slaters’ (Scotland, Australia and New Zealand), ‘chucky pigs’ (Dorset), ‘cheesy bobs’ (Guildford), ‘sandies’ (Portsmouth), ‘gramfers’ (Cornwall), ‘pill bugs’ (US) and so on…..

Now that language has become so much more standardised, this is one of the few words that has kept its regional identity. Also, I like it because it’s one of those childhood words – like ‘fay nights’ of ‘Fein Knights’ – that never really makes the dictionaries but is still in common use.

Legends, Myths and Folklore
One of the podcasts I’ve been listening to  is Tales of the British Isles https://soundcloud.com/talesofthebritishisles which ‘tells some of the famous and not-so-famous myths, legends and folklore from the British Isles in a haphazard order’. I knew some of the stories already through listening to the music of bands like Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention, and I’ve included links to some of their musical retellings in the stories below.

So, just to explain a few things – what’s the difference between a legend, a myth and folklore?  According to this education website http://myths.e2bn.org/

  • Legends are semi-true stories, passed from person-to-person, which have important meaning or symbolism for the culture in which they originate. A legend usually contains elements of the truth or is based in historical fact, but it has ‘mythical qualities’. Legends usually involve heroic characters or fantastic places and often encompass the spiritual beliefs of the culture in which they originate
  • A myth is a story based on tradition or legend, which has deep symbolic meaning. A myth conveys a truth rather than necessarily recording a true event. Myths are often used to explain universal and local beginnings and involve supernatural beings . The great power of the meaning of these stories to the culture in which they developed is the main reason that they survive as long as they do – sometimes for thousands of years
  • Folklore or folktales are popular stories passed on in spoken form from one generation to the next. Usually, the author is unknown and there are many different versions of the story. Folktales fit into many categories – fables, fairy tales,  old legends and even urban legends.

So there is a lot of overlap, but the website offers this diagram to help clarify the relationship between the three:

The creation of a modern legend?
It’s been interesting watching the news with all this stuff going on in my head.  Following the politics (and the science) has become a bit of an obsession.

Of course, politicians have always spun stories and told tall tales, but the development of The Legend of Dominic Cummings has been fascinating.  And it is indeed a legend. Based in historical fact, it contains elements of the truth but also elements of fantasy. There is a voyaging ‘hero’ – a concerned father, who is a genius and a prophet. There are fantastic places – a remote estate and a historic castle. And, the whole tale so clearly shining a light on the political culture in which the story originated.

But, I guess, there is a fundamental difference. Those communicating this particular modern legend are politicians, not storytellers.

Well before all this kicked off, Wayne Macauley wrote in the Guardian in 2014, reflecting on the difference between politicians and novelists – they both make things up, right?

In their desperation to control the narrative, politicians….may have stolen our [novelists’] kitbag of trickery and artifice but they left behind the fundamental principle: storytellers are the liars who admit they are – the rest are just, well, liars.

So perhaps we need to add a fourth bullet to the list above, or extend the fact to meaning continuum on the diagram above, to include barefaced lies.

Anyway,  here are some of the traditional stories from around the British Isles, along with the drawings I made as I listened to them.  I recommend it. Much better for the underlying health conditions than watching the news!

All the drawings featured are available from the Gallery on this website: https://www.duncangrantartist.com/shop/ 

Great Britain
Albina and her sisters
Duncan Grant: Albina and her sistersAccording to a 14th century British medieval legend and myth, Great Britain was once known as Albion – it sometimes still is – after an exiled queen called Albina.  She was the eldest of a family of sisters who had been exiled from their homeland in Greece. One version of the story tells how a king of Greece married his thirty daughters into royalty. But the brides colluded to murder their husbands because they didn’t want to be subservient to anyone. However, the youngest daughter wanted no part in this and revealed the plot. As a punishment, the murderous princesses were set adrift in a rudderless ship.  After three days they reached land, in England. The eldest daughter Albina was the first to step ashore. She laid claim to the land, naming it after herself. At first, the sisters gathered acorns and fruits. Then they learnt to hunt. Having meat in their diet aroused their desires. As there were no other humans in England at that time, the sisters mated with evil spirits, which resulted in a race of giants. You can read the legend of Albion here: http://folklorethursday.com/legends/british-legends-origin-albion-bloodlust-albina-sisters/

Duncan Grant: John BarleycornJohn Barleycorn
John Barleycorn features in a British folk song. But he is not a person, he is a personification of the important cereal crop barley, which is used in making beer. The song describes how John Barleycorn suffers indignities, attacks and death, corresponding to the various stages of cultivation and brewing.  Here are folk rock band Steeleye Span singing the song.

https://youtu.be/uArDiTWcDaw

The Green ManDuncan Grant: The Green Man
The Green Man is a legendary being representing rebirth and the cycle of new growth that begins every spring. The Green Man is most commonly depicted in paintings,  sculptures, or on pub signs as a face made of, or completely surrounded by, leaves.

Reynardine

Duncan Grant: ReynardineReynardine is a traditional English ballad. The subject, Reynardine, is a werefox who attracts beautiful women to him so that he can take them away to his castle. The fate  that awaits them once they get there is usually left to the imagination.
Here a rendition of Reynardine by Fairport Convention.  Any excuse to hear Sandy Denny.
https://youtu.be/J25mmIKp1SM

Duncan Grant: The Witch and the HareThe Witch and the Hare
Many British folk tales feature witches that transform themselves into hares, usually to lure an unsuspecting huntsman into some sort of trouble.

England
County Durham
The Lambton Worm
Duncan Grant: The Lambton Worm
The story of the Lambton Worm tells of a rebellious lad called John Lambton who skips church to go fishing in the River Wear. The boy catches a small wormlike creature with nine holes on each side of its head and throws it down a well. Eventually the worm grows extremely large and the well becomes poisonous. The villagers start to notice that farm animal are going missing. They discover that the gigantic worm has emerged from the well and coiled itself around a local hill. The worm terrorises the nearby villages, eating sheep, preventing cows from producing milk and snatching small children. It then heads towards Lambton Castle. John Lambton’s father (Lord Lambton) manages to placate the worm by feeding it twenty gallons of milk a day.  Eventually, Lord Lambton manages to kill the worm but since that day, the Lambton family were said to be cursed. Here is Bryan Ferry, who was born in County Durham, re-telling the tale: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFQ3D6dGcik

Duncan Grant: Spring-Heeled JackBlack Country, London and other places
Spring-Heeled Jack
In Victorian England, the scariest bogeyman was Spring Heeled Jack – a fire-breathing devil, with a goatee beard, pointed beard and fiery eyes,  who could leap across rooftops.  Sightings of Spring-Heeled Jack are recorded across England, but they were especially prevalent in the Black Country. His agility allowed him to terrify his victims and then escape his pursuers. Older Black Country residents still recall being threatened by their parents with an appearance by Jack if they failed to go to bed on time. My picture shows Jack against a collage of  cut up maps of London. https://duncangrantartist.com/product/myths-and-legends-series-spring-heeled-jack-print/

East Anglia
Black Shuck

Duncan Grant: Black ShuckBlack Shuck is the name given to a ghostly black dog that is said to roam the coastline and countryside of East Anglia. It is one of many ghostly black dogs recorded in folklore across the British Isles. The appearance of Black Shuck is sometimes thought to be an omen of death. One of the most notable reports of Black Shuck occurred at Holy Trinity Church at Blythburgh in Suffolk. On 4th August 1577, during a storm, Black Shuck is said to have burst in through the doors of the church to a clap of thunder. He ran up the nave, past the congregation, killing two people and causing the church steeple to collapse through the roof. As the dog departed, he left scorch marks on the north door. These, it is said, can still be seen at the church to this day.

Duncan Grant: The Ghost Ship of Goodwin SandsKent
The Ghost Ship of Goodwin Sands
Goodwin Sands is a 10-mile long sandbank off the Deal coast in Kent. The Lady Lovibond  was a schooner that is alleged to have been wrecked on Goodwin Sands on 13 February 1748. It is said that it reappears there, as a ghost ship, every fifty years. The first sighting of the phantom Lady Lovibond on 13 February 1798 was reported by at least two ships. Apparently, the ghostly ship’s appearance in 1848 was so convincing  that lifeboats were sent out from Deal in the hope of rescuing survivors. The last report was filed in 1948 by Captain Bull Preswick, who was convinced he saw the Lady Lovibond  surrounded by a green glow as she entered the Sands. The story of the ghost ship created so much attention that a crowd of  curious onlookers made their way to the Sands on 13th February 1998, hoping to catch a glimpse of the legendary ship. But they left disappointed, as no ship appeared.

Duncan Grant: The Lincoln ImpLincolnshire
The Lincoln Imp
If you visit Lincoln Cathedral, look up. Hidden between two arches on the north side of the Choir, sitting cross-legged, is a small, grotesque carved figure – half human and half animal.  Legend has it that one day the devil let two of his naughty young demons out to play. After stopping at Chesterfield, where they twisted the spire of St Mary and All Saints Church,  they went to Lincoln and began wrecking the cathedral. They knocked over the Dean, smashed the stained glass windows and destroyed the lights. To put a stop to any further chaos, an angel appeared from the bible on the altar. One imp ran away but the other carried on hurling insults and stones at the angel.  So the angel turned the imp to stone where it sat and where it can still be seen today.

NottinghamDuncan Grant: Robin Hood and his Merry Men
Robin
Hood and his Merry Men

Stealing from the rich to give to the poor, Robin Hood and his Merry Men are now an established part of popular culture. The story is set in Sherwood Forest in Nottingham, during the reign of Richard the Lionheart. The adventures follow the principled thief as he woos the beautiful Maid Marian and thwarts the evil Sheriff of Nottingham.

Yorkshire
Duncan Grant: The Wantley DragonThe Wantley Dragon
The Wantley dragon is a legend about a knight who slew a terrifying dragon that lived on Wharncliffe Crags in South Yorkshire.  The story is recounted in a comic ballad of 1685 which, although not well-known today, was quite popular in the 18th and 19th centuries. https://allpoetry.com/The-Dragon-of-Wantley The dragon, which was as big as a Trojan Horse, devoured everything in its path, even trees and houses until  the knight, More of More Hall, suitably fortified with strong ale and dressed in a suit of extremely spiky Sheffield steel armour, landed a fatal kick to the dragon’s ‘arse-gut’ its only weak spot, as the dragon explains with its dying breath.

Ireland
Duncan Grant: Finn MacCool and the Salmon of KnowledgeFinn MacCool and the Salmon of Knowedge
When Finn MacCool was a boy he went to live with his tutor, an old man named Finegas,  who had lived by the River Boyne. Finegas had fished in the river for many years because it was rumoured that a fish called ‘The Salmon of Knowledge’ swam in the nearby river. And it was said, that the first person to taste this salmon would become the wisest person in all Ireland. Fineagas went fishing every day, hoping that one day he would catch the Salmon of Knowledge. One day, as Fineagas was teaching Finn by the river bank,  he noticed a huge, pink salmon swimming towards them and he rushed to get his net. Once Finegus eventually caught the enormous salmon, he was exhausted and needed to sleep. So he asked Finn to cook the salmon for him but he warned the boy not to taste even the smallest bite of it. But while the fish was cooking, a small drop of hot fish oil splashed onto Finn’s thumb. Finn put his thumb in his mouth to stop it burning but it was too late. Even though Finn he had not eaten the salmon, the special knowledge had been given to him and he grew up to become the most able and celebrated of the Fianna warriors.

The Giant’s Causeway
Duncan Grant: The Giant's CausewayThe story of the Giant’s Causeway is another chapter from the legend of FinnMcCool. Finn McCool was the biggest and strongest giant in Ireland – 54 foot tall and with the strength of 500 men. At the same time there was another giant called Benandonner who lived on the Scottish coast. Benandonner believed that he was the strongest of all the giants and this made Finn McCool mad. So he picked up a huge lump of earth and threw it at Benandonner. It missed but it landed in the middle of the Irish Sea making the Isle of Man. The hole left by Finn became Lough Neagh. Eventually Finn Mc Cool got so fed up of being taunted by Benandonner that he decided to fight him to decide, once and for all, who was the strongest. Finn started to build a path to Scotland, laying down thousands of rocks with his bare hands. When Benandonner heard what Finn was doing he decided to build his own path from Scotland to meet up with Finn’s path. But when Finn saw Benandonner he was shocked – Benandonner was twice his size and looked twice as strong! He ran back to his house, with  Benandonner hot on his heels, and asked his wife, Oonagh, to hide him. She came up with a cunning plan. She disguised Finn as a baby.
When Benandonner knocked on the door Finn, dressed up as a baby, pretended to cry. When Benandonner saw the size of the baby he was terrified. If the baby was that big, his father must be enormous! Benandonner turned as fast as he could and ran, ripping up the causeway behind him so that Finn could not follow him. You can take a virtual tour of the Giant’s Causeway here http://panoramas.nationaltrust.org.uk/giants-causeway/1/

Scotland
Borders
Duncan Grant: The Ballad of Tam LinThe Ballad of Tam Lin
Tam Lin is  a pre- sixteenth century ballad that has inspired many stories and novels.  http://www.kitsuneyama.com/Mountain/Bardic/Songs/tamlin.htm
You might be more familiar with Fairport  Convention’s  1969 cover version
https://youtu.be/4FuaSdOdpzw The story of Tam Lin tells how he was kidnapped or ‘taken’ by the queen of the fairies when he fell off a horse while hunting.  He is destined to be sacrificed by the fairies on Hallowe’en but he is rescued, at midnight, by his pregnant lover, Janet.

Galloway
Duncan Grant: The Mermaid of GallowayThe Mermaid of Galloway
There are many tales of encounters between humans and mermaids and none of them ends well. The Mermaid of Galloway is a famous Scottish tale of a man who captures a mermaid and makes her his wife. But, of course, the ending is far from happy for the young crofter.  In another variation, the mermaid of Galloway lived in a beautiful burn and every evening she would perch on a seat-shaped rock and give medical advice to the people who gathered to ask for her help. But a local religious woman thought that this was the devil’s work, and, clutching her bible for protection, pushed the mermaid’s seat into the pond. The next evening when the mermaid appeared, she was upset to find that her seat had been destroyed, and cried out, “You may look to your empty cradle’. The next morning the religious woman’s baby was found dead.

Duncan Grant: The Story of Da Kunal Trow KingShetland

The Story of Da Kunal Trow King
I can’t tell this story of about a union between a witch and one of Shetland’s most famous, magical creatures, a trow, any better than this version by Shetland comedian, Marjolein Robertson! https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p088w3tb

Wales
Duncan Grant: Y Tylwyth Teg

Y Tylwyth Teg
Y Tylwyth Teg, which means ‘fair family’, is the name for the ‘fairy folk’ who live underground or near water. They are said to have fair hair, to dance and to make fairy rings. But there is a more sinister side. Y Tywylth Teg kidnap golden-haired human children and leaving changelings in their place. They give gifts to those they like, but take these gifts away if the recipient tells anyone about them. Fairy maidens can marry human men but they must be careful never to touch iron or they will vanish back to fairyland never to be seen by their husbands again.

 

 

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Iron Pier Brewery: The Art of Brewing

Visit Duncan Grant’s gallery

As regular readers of this blog will know,  my art has ended up in places I’d never imagined.

It’s been on fabrics for Liberty London,  https://www.libertylondon.com/a book cover for Faber & Faber, https://www.faber.co.uk/9780571355075-milkman.html pencil cases in Japan and shirts in Russia.  And this week it is appearing on beer cans in Gravesend, courtesy of the Iron Pier Brewery and Taproom https://www.ironpier.beer/

Iron Pier Brewery
I’ve been drinking at the Iron Pier since it opened in 2018 and they’ve hosted a couple of exhibitions of my art.  Tucked behind Perry Street on a small industrial estate, it’s a fantastic place with a great community atmosphere – and the beer is even better!

Iron Pier Brewery: Charlie Venner & James Hayward
Charlie Venner & James Hayward

The brewery is run by head brewer James Hayward, who used to run the Caveman Brewery in Swanscombe http://www.cavemanbrewery.co.uk,  and his business partner Charlie Venner who, previously, ran The Compass Ale House, in Gravesend http://thecompassalehouse.co.uk/ which James used to supply.

At Iron Pier they produce a range of cask , keg and barrel-aged beer to their exacting standardsas they say on their website,  it is ‘lovingly crafted, full-flavoured and perfectly conditioned’. https://www.ironpier.beer/beers

The brewery is named after the Gravesend town pier, which is the oldest surviving cast iron pier in the world. And many of the beers brewed there, such as Rosherville Red and Perry Street Pale,  have names drawn from the local area.

‘We always knew that we wanted to be part of the community in Gravesend,’ says James. ‘So having the taproom on the same site as the brewery gives us a real link to that community. But we also wanted to be a brewery that went beyond the local market. We supply pubs locally and in East London, and we do brewery swaps, where we’ll send our beer up to Yorkshire or Manchester  and they’ll send theirs down to Kent.  Last year , we took our beer out to a beer festival in Germany. And it’s really nice, being in Germany as a brewery from Gravesend.’

Duncan Grant: Brewery
Russell Brewery, Gravesend

Brewing in Gravesend
Iron Pier is the first brewery in Gravesend for  nearly 90 years. In 1932, Russell’s brewery, in West Street – famous for their Shrimp Brand beers – was acquired by the London brewing giants, Truman.  By 1935, brewing had stopped on the site, although it was used as bottling plant for about 50 years after that.

Truman bottling plant, Gravesend
Truman bottling plant, 1950s

If you’re familiar with Gravesend, you can still see evidence of the Russell brewery  down by the River, near Asda.  Most of the old brewery buildings were demolished, but the original maltings – the building where grain is converted into malt for brewing – still survives, although it has been converted into flats now.  The big square section of  The Maltings with its triangular roof was part of the kiln used to heat the barley.

 

Duncan Grant: Hop picking
Duncan Grant: Hop picking

Hops
Hops are a key ingredient of traditional brewing,  and hop-growing has always been an important agricultural activity in Kent, which is still the biggest hop-growing county in the country. At the end of the 19th century there were about 200,000 acres of hop fields in the UK, now there are only about 6,000 acres.

‘It has shrunk pretty much every year from 1897 to 2017 because of lack of demand,’ explains James Hayward. ‘Beer styles change. Most people now drink so-called continental lagers and those don’t use many hops really, so the hop market completely crashed. But it is coming back a bit now because small brewers like us tend to use a lot of local hops.’

Duncan Grant: Hops and blueberries
Duncan Grant: Hops and blueberries

There are many different hop varieties and new hop strains are being bred all the time, in England and in other hop-growing countries like USA and Slovenia. Every month Iron Pier  brew a different Joined at the Hop beer, where an English hop is partnered with a hop from somewhere else.

‘It’s a form or research and development for us, ‘James explains. ‘It gives us a chance to see what works well, and we’ve found a few that we really, really like. There’s a Slovenian hop, Styrian Cardinal, which we used in a Joined at the Hop beer and that is now in our Session IPA.’

Although much farm work is now mechanised, in the UK  hops are still mostly picked by hand as they always have been. I was talking to my mum, who is ninety in a couple of months, about when, as a child, she used to go hop-picking with her family. The Kidd family lived locally to the hop fields so, for them, hopping was a series of day trips over the two or three week harvesting period. But some large hop fields had accommodation on site and families, particularly from East London, used to stay on site to pick.

My mum dug out a couple of battered black and white photos and agreed to talk about her experiences for the blog.  Friend and composer Ian Kirton kindly offered to edit it altogether.  If you like the music, which Ian composed, you can listen here: https://www.pond5.com/royalty-free-music/item/104662981-mind-and-body-gentle-warm-emotive-inspirational-instrumental

Anyway, here is my mum, Kathleen Grant (nee Kidd) reminiscing.

Iron Pier Brewery: Take-away service
Take-away

Thinking outside the taproom
Before the coronavirus emergency, Iron Pier were planning for a busy summer – full tap rooms,  more community events, beer tents at local festivals, as well as providing beer for pubs and festivals across the country. So when lockdown started, pubs closed overnight and summer events were cancelled,  James and Charlie had to come up with a Plan B to keep their business afloat.

Plan B (part 1) was a socially distanced,  takeaway service. If  locals weren’t able to pop out to the taproom or a local pub for a few drinks with  friends, at least they could enjoy a pint or two of Iron Pier beer in the comfort of their own home. And, as James explains, it is all going very well.

Iron Pier Brewery, Gravesend‘When the virus first struck and the pubs were closed we were terrified, because selling our beer to other pubs was such a big part of our business. But our take-away 4-pint and 2-pint carry-kegs are going insanely well – even better than when we had the bar open. We started with two hours on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, but we’ve had to extend Fridays to three hours now because the queues were just getting too big.’

If you fancy a carry out from Iron Pier you’ll find collection times on their Facebook page  https://www.facebook.com/ironpierbeer/

It’s in the can
Plan B (part 2) swung into operation last Tuesday, as Iron Pier started canning four of its beers – Keller QueenSession IPA, Rosherville Red and  Breezy Day IPA – to sell through the takeaway service and its new online shop. https://www.ironpier.beer/cans.  

‘We always had this idea in our heads that we were going to put our beer into cans,’ James explains. ‘It was originally part of our third year plan, but when this all kicked off it was like, well we’re  not making beer for pubs any more so let’s do this canning thing now.’

Iron Pier Brewery, GravesendJames and Charlie and I had already discussed the possibility of putting my artwork on the cans about a year ago, so they were able to move from idea to product really quickly. ‘Yes,’ James laughs. ‘We didn’t need to find a designer, so for us it was just finding somewhere on the can to put our logo so it didn’t get in the way of the artwork and we were done!’

While the beer is brewed on site, Iron Pier brought an external contractor into the brewery to can the beer.  In the future, if the new cans prove popular, the brewery might consider purchasing its own packaging line.

Iron Pier Brewery, GravesendBy the end of Tuesday, the brewery had three out of the four beers ‘in the can’. But there was a small technical hitch with the fourth.

‘A new process in the brewery always involves a bit of a learning curve, and something usually goes wrong,’ James explains. ‘We brewed all four beers for the canning day  but when we began filling the Breezy Day we noticed that we were still pulling through hops from the fermenter, so we decided not to can it that day.’

The team is going to  polish up the Breezy Day  ready for when the canners return in a week or so.  In the meantime, the other three canned beers are for sale. You can buy them in cases, or individually, through the take-away service or via the online shop.

‘We were really happy to see some great dissolved oxygen numbers in the can,’ James says, ‘so the beer should have a decent shelf life, which was the main thing I was worried about.’

Iron Pier Brewery, GravesendIn normal times, Iron Pier would have held a big knees up to launch their new cans, but since these are not normal times, you are invited to a Virtual Launch/Meet the Brewer/ Beer Tasting event, this evening (17th May 2020, @ 7.30 – 8.30pm) hosted by the Admiral’s Arm micropub http://www.admiralsarm.co.uk/  Follow this link for more information: https://www.facebook.com/events/241388767208060/

Hope to see you there. Cheers!

 

You can follow Iron Pier on:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ironpierbeer/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ironpierbeer
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ironpierbeer/

My original ink drawings, as well as digital prints, of the art used on the beer cans and in this blog are available from the gallery on this website. https://www.duncangrantartist.com/shop/

Keller Queen (Small Town #141)
Original ink drawing: https://duncangrantartist.com/product/small-town-141/
Digital print: https://duncangrantartist.com/product/small-town-141-print/ 

Rosherville Red (Small Town #132)
Original ink drawing: https://duncangrantartist.com/product/small-town-132/
Digital print: https://duncangrantartist.com/product/small-town-132-print/

Session IPA (Twenty-eight poplars)
Original ink drawing: https://duncangrantartist.com/product/twenty-eight-poplars/
Digital print: https://duncangrantartist.com/product/twenty-eight-poplars-print/

Breezy Day IPA (Breezy Day)
Original ink drawing: SOLD
Digital print: https://duncangrantartist.com/product/breezy-day-print/

Russell Brewery (Brewery)
Original ink drawing: SOLD
Digital print: https://duncangrantartist.com/product/brewery-print/

Hops and blueberries
Original ink drawing: https://duncangrantartist.com/product/fruit-series-hops-and-blueberries/
Digital print: https://duncangrantartist.com/product/fruit-series-hops-and-blueberries-print/

Hop pickers – SOLD

 

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Wayne Howes: Documenting London in lockdown

Duncan Grant: Roadworks in London
Normally London is busy, even at night

Visit Duncan Grant’s gallery
An unnaturally silent and deserted London in lockdown has been captured in a series of beautiful images, by Gravesend-based photographer, Wayne Howes.

Before the coronavirus lockdown, London was buzzing with tourists and locals going about their daily business. I work on the roads at night and, although some parts of London are quieter then, city life never stops.

A third of everyone that works in London works at night so there is always traffic. All-night restaurants and cafes are busy and, just before dawn, clubbers spill out onto the streets and start making their way home, past the increasing number of rough sleepers in shop doorways.

Wayne Howes: London in lockdown
Regent Street

And that’s what makes Wayne’s photographs extraordinary. They show London as it has never been seen before.  With most workers staying at home, the streets are quiet, free of cars and with barely a soul to be seen.

Wayne has taken photographs for as long as he can remember. He exhibits his work regularly at Gravesham Arts Images exhibition, which is where I first met him. And his pictures of Kent wildlife and the night sky have appeared on book and CD covers, as well as in national publications.

Wayne Howes: Mrs Fox
Wayne Howes: Mrs Fox

Wayne’s day job, as an engineer for a security systems company works perfectly with his freelance photography business. He spends a lot of his day walking between iconic buildings in central London. And wherever Wayne goes, his camera goes too.

One of his specialities is film and TV shots.

‘I don’t like the word paparazzi,’ he says. ‘But, over the last ten years I’ve photographed everything from Hollywood blockbusters like Mission Impossible and James Bond to Sherlock and Eastenders. If something is being shot on the streets of London, I’m not far behind with my camera.’

 

Wayne Howes: Tom Cruise filming Mission Impossible 6
Tom Cruise filming Mission Impossible 6

You may have seen Wayne’s shots in the national newspapers, capturing the moment Tom Cruise broke his ankle, when he misjudged a leap between two buildings, during a stunt for the Hollywood movie Mission Impossible 6′. 

With lockdown underway, nothing is being filmed in London at the moment, so Wayne, who is a key worker and still travelling to London every day for work, is capturing London in Lockdown through his photography.

 

Wayne Howes: London in lockdown
Oxford Circus

‘I think it is important to document what is going on in the current climate and to preserve the images I’m seeing every day for the future,’ he says. ‘We’ll never see London like this again, after this madness is over. In rush hour on a Monday morning, it can take you half an hour to drive down Regent Street, so to see it with no cars and no people at that time is really unusual.’

Over the past few weeks, Wayne’s pictures of empty streets, eerily quiet parks, deserted markets and a Stock Exchange devoid of traders have captured the essence of London in lockdown and hinted at the impact of coronavirus on the social, cultural and economic life of the capital.

Wayne Howes: Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar Square 9am Monday morning

Later this year, Wayne is planning to self-publish a hardback book featuring twenty-five of his lockdown photographs. He hopes to raise £3,000 to fund the project via Kickstarter.

The Kickstarter site goes live this evening and is open for donations until 7th June 2020.  You can support the project here. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/waynehimages/london-in-lockdown?ref=ksrfb-prelaunch&fbclid=IwAR0qAhHKIqhYojTNac0urAYBopbkRBprLXaoODD-XG0pd-6xOQKQD4IY2GI

Wayne Howes: London in lockdown
St Paul’s Cathedral

As is usual with Kickstarter projects there are incentives to encourage you to give.  Here is what Wayne is offering if you donate.

For a £10 donation, you’ll receive a thank-you postcard of one of the images through the post.

A donation of £30 gets you a signed copy of the book

If you can afford to donate £45, you’ll receive a signed copy of the book and a mounted print of your choice from the book.

And for anyone able to donate £100, there is a signed copy of the book and the opportunity to take part in a photography workshop in London, with Wayne, where you can take your own images at the locations featured in the book – but this time with added people.

Wayne Howes: London in Lockdown
St James’s Park

If Wayne’s London in Lockdown project does not meet it’s target, you will pay nothing.  If he exceeds his target, he will publish a bigger book, featuring more of the hundreds of lockdown pictures he has taken.

You can see more of Wayne’s London in Lockdown images and his other work on his website https://www.howesimages.com/ or you can follow him on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/wayne.howes1 or Instagram https://www.instagram.com/waynehowes/