Crown Wharf Story Part 8: Redemption

Part 8 will be the last for a while, the final part will be just before we open, hopefully in 2020. We don’t have a fixed date to open but are pretty sure it will be before the close of next year! In this penultimate post, I wanted to pick up again on our central theme of Crown Wharf. Crown Wharf only exists because the original Brewery was closed, otherwise there would be no purpose to it. This is also true of the new chapter of Joule’s which sprung back into life some ten years ago.

It’s been really enjoyable to share the detail of our project, rather more than the casual observer would need so thank you all for your interest and encouragement. We have made good progress so far, Minshall Construction has been the main contractor and has held our hand throughout. They will break the back of the build dealing with the complex footings, the even more complex steel frame and fit out our floors as well as building the walls and roof for the theatre. Keep an eye out on our Facebook page, the early summer will see a dramatic change as the steel frame appears in the skyline.

I do need to issue a warning, this post contains references, ideas and concepts that my son Jack would kindly refer to as all a bit artsy and sometimes less kindly as a load of b*ll*cks.

Our pubs have a handful of Victorian paintings, some are quite good, perhaps too good to put in a pub. This is a discussion I have had from time to time with our favourite auction house, Trevanion and Dean, in Whitchurch. Perhaps so, but where better than a public place and where better to reflect on social evolution than in the pub.

In parts five and six I explained how the design for Crown Wharf and the architecture of the building has the ambition to reflect the story of the return of Joule’s to Stone, of second life and rebirth. I referred to a creative collision of design and of materials reflecting the juxtaposition of old and new, past and present. In a very grand way, the fact we are next door to the old Joule’s warehouse is the greatest reflection of that.

MONKS

MONKs1

Ten years ago we commissioned Andrew Tift, one of the country’s leading portrait artists and a great friend of the Brewery, to paint eight of the craftsmen who built the fourth Joule’s Brewery in Market Drayton. Andrew painted them in Monks habits referencing the origins of the famous trademark cross appropriated by Francis Joule some 250 years earlier. This in itself is an interesting idea around the passing of time. Andrew paints with great intensity and detail such that after over ten years we still have the final Monk to finish.

MONKs2

The final portrait now underway will soon join its fellows at the Brewery marking that landmark in our story. ‘Monks’ is on display at the Red Lion Brewery Tap, Market Drayton. You can find out more about Andrew at www.andrewtift.co.uk.

We wanted to do something similar at Crown Wharf. In chatting to Andrew we had a creative idea to try to express the essence of Crown Wharf and what it means to us. It would be especially resonant to do this with Andrew as it would form a bridge between Stone and the Brewery if he had works in both.


REDEMPTION

The simple idea we came up with was to work creatively with artists from the past to echo our connection with our own past. There is a great tradition for artists to work collaboratively, but usually when both parties are alive and well. This idea was to work retrospectively. We liked the idea of working with artists who were all highly celebrated in their time but have since faded into obscurity in the modern age. The plan was to take their work and enhance the pieces which are now overlooked, into the spotlight, an obvious parallel with Joule’s.

The changes will be subtle but will displace the original setting and time of the piece. In each Joule’s will become present, rewriting ourselves into history, after all this is the story of Crown Wharf. They are all mischievous and demand a second look. We hope they will make you smile when you recognise what shouldn’t be there. We will share this with you, but only once. The pieces are there to be discovered on their own merit if we tell this story widely then the point is lost.

The series is called Redemption, for obvious reasons. Six works of which each of the artists were celebrity’s in their time and are now largely forgotten have all been bought at auction over the last five years or so. They all have required restoration as they all have been unloved and a little abandoned. This was our criteria in buying them for Crown Wharf with an additional centrepiece work by Andrew. Andrew is currently working on Redemption, but we can give you a sneak peek at two of the works in their newly restored condition along with the centrepiece by Andrew himself.


THE SURPRISE RECOVERY



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This piece by Sydney Muschamp was a little tired when we bought it at Auction in 2012. Titled ‘A Surprise Recovery’ it shows an older man recovering with his spouse and entourage at his bedside. The setting suggests a man of considerable wealth and Muschamp encourages us to wonder if his wife is relieved or disappointed. A mischievous idea which calls into question what is genuine and what is real.

Andrew will place a glass of Joule’s onto the tray. This small intrusion adds texture and our own cheeky reference suggesting that a draught of Joule’s is responsible for this remarkable recovery hence writing ourselves into this vignette in a heroic way. The piece should make you smile and you will see it in a pub, the place of storytelling for generations.


CHARLES SPENCELAYH

charles

 

The second piece is by the celebrated artist Charles Spencelayh. Spencelayh, I think, would be in tune with Andrew- both portrait artists of great repute. Like Andrew, he created highly intimate portraits and the two artists craft a setting that tells something of the sitter, small perhaps obscure objects that speak of a life lived, every element carefully placed, nothing by chance. This retrospective collaboration is especially interesting. Spencelayh is renowned for painting old men. In his most celebrated work, he returned again and again to the theme of time passing, of the transience and fragility of life. I have picked a selection below which reveals a connection between the two artists.

  
                                                                                                     tift1charles1                                                                                                                                                                                                                      charles2tift2
                              

The piece we have selected for ‘Redemption’ is most likely a commissioned portrait as it is a younger man and lacks the usual detail around it which is so common in his other work.


Andrew will add that detail and complete the work, almost a century later. The idea is to place this unknown gentleman in the Red Lion, Market Drayton in front of Andrew’s own Monks commission. Displacing time and space by referencing the Monks commission we will make a connection between the two pubs whilst at the same time allow Andrew to look over the shoulder of his illustrative forbear.

bass

There is one final link to Spencerlayh. William Bass purchased a painting called ‘The Steward’, one of his finest works commissioned by Bass, which references their ale in the painting. This is one reason behind selecting this artist, it is another very oblique reference to the Joule’s / Bass dynamic.

The final four pieces will be revealed when we open, they are collaborations with Edgar Bundy, George Derville Rowlandson, Edward Ladell and James Digman Wingfield.

MADONNA & CHILD

madonna

The centrepiece, more than any I have seen, showcases Andrew’s remarkable talent. Madonna & Child was painted for Andrew's recent exhibition ‘Immortalise’ at Walsall Art Gallery in 2018. A magnificent portrait- contemporary, fresh, engaging and a dramatic study of beauty both internal and external. For me, it ranks as one of his finest works. Andrew has a special gift of revealing the essence of the person. In this piece he characterises the sitter as flawless, he explores an unconventional beauty, subtle and less obvious than the superficiality of our tabloid world, slightly androgynous and yet with great allure. In Redemption, this work anchors the whole where Andrew is not in the shadows supporting the principle artist but where he takes centre stage and shows his remarkable talent.

Lastly and why this works as the anchor piece like Spencerlayh nothing is placed by chance – the intense detail of the sitter’s watch means it catches your eye. A reminder that beauty is transient and this portrait offers some immortality to the sitter and the more so being in a public, large scale, setting. This simple truth reflects the design inspiration of Crown Wharf, hence a very fitting centrepiece of the commission.

The work will all be sited in the intimate dining room, the cabinet of curiosity’s which we outlined in part 3.

Thanks for having a read of this series, do keep in touch, if you have any questions drop us an email anytime, I am managing the project This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and Pip is keeping on top of our marketing effort This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.