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‘Shrewsbury’s Real High Street – Archaeology and Conservation on Pride Hill’ talk by Dr Nigel Baker Thursday 9th March

The first Civic Forum this year takes place on at 7.00pm Thursday 9th March at the Bear Steps.

The forum, now in its third year features a talk by Dr Nigel Baker entitled ‘Shrewsbury’s Real High Street – Archaeology and Conservation on Pride Hill’.

After the talk there will be a question and answer session on recent planning issues concerning Shrewsbury. This is a chance for the public to catch up with the latest planning applications and air their views on those applications.

 

‘Shrewsbury’s Real Hight Street – Archaeology and Conservation on Pride Hill’ by Dr Nigel Baker.

Pride Hill can claim to be Shrewsbury’s ‘real High Street’ on two counts. Historically, that was what it was called first – in Latin, it was the Altus Vicus (literally high street), along with the near end of Castle Street, before c.1300. At that time the street we now call the High Street was still known either as Gumble-stool Street (Ducking-stool Street) or Baker’s Row,only becoming the High Street later in the Middle Ages. And, much closer to our own time, Pride Hill and Castle Street were where all the familiar high-street multiple chain-stores of the 20th century went: Boots the Chemist in 1907, Woolworth’s in 1927, Mark’s and Spencer’s, Littlewood’s, and so on. In most towns, this process led to the widespread destruction of historic buildings and townscape and, ultimately, to the sad, dull, homogenisation of the English high street.

But this is Shrewsbury, while there have been losses, there are startling survivals too. Pride Hill has the remains of Shrewsbury’s earliest-known house, built c.1250, with architectural features of ‘cathedral-like quality’. Along much of the north side of the street, the familiar shops in their Georgian and Victorian buildings conceal the remains of a series of stone undercrofts, commercial basements and taverns from the 13th and 14th centuries, trapped deep in their cellars; these are rarely visited, except of course for the ancient MacDonald’s setting. Right across the street, Thornton’s can lay claim to being the town’s most primitive design of shop, a type being built more than 800 years ago. Even the big shopping centres of the 1980s are partly confined by property boundaries laid out before the Norman Conquest.

Pride Hill presents many classic instances of the kind of townscape, the three-dimensional archaeology, that makes Shrewsbury so distinctive – where old buildings, ancient boundaries, buried remains, and terraced hillsides, fit together to form the ultimate historical jigsaw puzzle, while continuing to pose questions like, how old are the Shuts of Shrewsbury?

We look forward to seeing you at what will be a very interesting talk.

Civic Society Forum with guest speaker Dr N Baker

Civic Society Forum with guest speaker Dr N Baker

 

Shrewsbury Carnival Day is also National Civic Day Saturday June 17th 2017

It’s a day celebrated nationally to say “I care about where I live”.

In Shrewsbury there will be lots of events with a focus on Conservation and our heritage.
What’s having a Conservation Area done for you?
The day will be bigger than last year and complement the Shrewsbury Carnival.
It’s based on the Bear Steps by St Alkmund’s Church.
Exhibitions by Shropshire Archives, and one about the renovation of the Bear Steps building.
Guided walking tours around the town and its Conservation Area.
A Surgery by Shropshire Council about listed and Conservation buildings, inc SC’s Design and Conservation Awards scheme
A quiz/questionnaire to appraise public understanding about heritage and conservation.
Civic Day ambassadors distributing leaflets around the town.
Costumed Town Heritage additional tour guides.
March from Column to Bear Steps.
Keynote talks in early evening (TBC)
Involved so far are: Shrewsbury Civic Society, Civic Voice, Shropshire Archives, Shropshire Council Conservation Dept., The Column Group, Town Crier, BID, and Shrewsbury University Centre.
Others are joining and offering many more ways to celebrate.
We’re planning a mix of events for fun and for awareness-raising.
If you or your organisation could consider supporting it contact Mike Carter 0n 01743 233893.
Email: info@shrewsburycivicsociety.co.uk with “Civic Day” in the title.
We need helpers: eg sandwich-board walkers, guides, musicians, designers, etc. We’d also like to see activities in the Special Character Areas as well as the Town Centre.     Mike Carter

Planning Matters.

Some recent issues from the Planning Committee of Shrewsbury Civic Society. October/November 2016. Mike Carter.

1. There is an application to turn Shrewsbury’s Rail Station information hall into a Costa coffee shop. The Civic Society regrets the loss of an information point, thinks this is a reasonable place for a coffee shop but objects to any siting of tables and advertising outside on the forecourt.

 
2. Beechwood House on Town Walls is a large building stretching back to Belmont Bank. The application for this is welcomed since much of it has been unused and looks unkempt. The Society is keen to see a high quality renovation used as houses and apartments.

 
3. Manser’s Antiques have been housed in a distinctive and prominent building near the English Bridge. There is an application for the change of use of the building to a vets/animal hospital. The details suggest little amendment to the building’s exterior. However, we feel that the elevations should not be affected by any changes and should remain looking true to its original design. Conservation Planning Officers have identified the cautions needed.

 
4. Shrewsbury’s Copthorne Barracks have been in the news as an application to turn the site into a “village style” housing estate is contentious. The current application is for Outline Planning consent and does not show the quality of the proposed buildings. (We understand that the government has ruled that redundant MOD land must be used for housing.) The Society has concerns for the lost opportunity for a mixed development that could encourage much needed businesses/employment but also about the proposed high density and loss of sufficient open space. If there is to be housing here, we would encourage maximising the use of the current buildings and leaving more open space (especially the whole parade square). There should be a high quality design and a condition that ensures a full contribution to infrastructure, eg to ameliorate traffic issues and to provide school places.

 
5. Shrewsbury’s Dana Prison is now the subject of a detailed application. The Civic Society is generally delighted to see a feasible plan for the use and regeneration of the site. Our previous comments have welcomed the imaginative ideas although there were some doubts about traffic and parking issues. These concerns (and others) are being discussed and may lead to amendments to the application.

 
6. The Stew still stands unloved. An Appeal established that the building may not be demolished but it is in urgent need of repair. An agreement was reached about this last January but never acted on. We are told a new initiative is underway. Meanwhile, knowing its heritage significance, the Civic Society has applied for the building to be listed but we remain extremely concerned.

 
7. A planning application for developments at the Ditherington Flaxmill has now been made. The Society is delighted to see some progress on this extremely long-running and difficult project. We were invited to view the plans before application and felt that the windows should remain authentic to the original design rather than to those of its later uses. It has now been passed but not using our suggestion .

 
8. We are pleased to hear that the ivy that was covering the Listed Dovecot to the rear of the Tudor Whitehall has now been removed. The Society had discussed this with the Council. We are seeking to identify other buildings whose current condition mars the town’s built environment.

 
9. Shrewsbury Civic Society Planning Committee occasionally welcomes colleagues from other Shropshire Civic Societies for meetings with senior staff of Shropshire Planning Authority. These meetings share common concerns and enable updates of the County and National context of planning legislation and the implications for Shropshire’s supply of housing land.

 
10. There are other ways in which the Society tries to encourage conservation of the best of Shrewsbury’s built heritage and tries to promote the best quality designs for developments. For example, the outcomes of the Awards Scheme are explained elsewhere. (See the November 2016 newsletter.)

Halloween Horrorfest from October 16th at Bear Steps Art Gallery

Gallery manager Dave Lupine talks to talented young artist Alberto Pitalua ahead of Horrorfest 2016.

horrorfest-poster

The original Halloween Horrorfest started in 2013 as a collaborative exhibition of only 3 artists; myself, my Belarusian wife Yuliya and Whitchurch based metal-work artist Lee Smith, and it was held in the small Link Room gallery upstairs at Bear Steps. The following two years we raised the bar each time, with 2014’s being held in the main hall and incorporating seven exhibitors and 2015’s utilising all three galleries and including a myriad of styles and mediums with work from sixteen contributors. Horrorfest 2015 proved to be a very popular exhibition, attracting vast numbers of visitors from far and wide and becoming the most financially successful exhibition of the year for Bear Steps. One of the principal ingredients for this surprising, but very welcome, success was the inclusion of Spanish artist Alberto Pitalua who exhibited his artwork for the very first time and sold virtually all of it during the Horrorfest’s two week run.

Language teacher Alberto originates from Malaga, but moved to Shrewsbury two years ago. He was a late addition to last year’s Horrorfest, contacting me only a few weeks before it began about the possibility of exhibiting at Bear Steps at some point, and the moment I saw his artwork I knew I had to grab him to join the show. In preparation for the Halloween Horrorfest 2016 I interviewed Alberto to discover a bit more about this quiet, charming and incredibly talented young artist.

D.L: Hi Alberto, good to see you. So when did you first develop a passion for art?

A.P: Hi Dave, good to see you too. Well I remember spending a lot of time drawing in my room when I was very young. My parents bought me some art books that I used to read for hours and then copy the paintings and illustrations.

As a rather shy boy I preferred to be on my own, immersing myself in my inner-world and developing my artistic skills.

D.L: You decided not to pursue a career in art though?

A.P: Well when I grew older I became more interested in exploring the world around me, travelling. Meeting people, learning new languages. Foreign languages was another passion of mine, and as there was no art school in my home town and, to be honest, art isn’t regarded as a realistic way of making enough money to earn a life, I decided to  study foreign languages at university to become a language teacher. However, I never lost my interest for art and kept painting and drawing as much as possible and whilst working as a teacher I attended several art courses and workshops and met some artists who encouraged me to continue developing my skills.

D.L: So when did you first make the conscious decision you to wanted to exhibit your works to the general public?

A.P: Well two years ago I moved to Shrewsbury, it was then I felt more confident and decided it was the right time to exhibit my work. I contacted different galleries and that was how I met you and you suggested I take part in the Halloween and Christmas shows you were curating in 2015. I will always be so grateful for the support that you, Yuliya and the Shrewsbury Civic Society gave me to start exhibiting my works. I feel as if I were a spoilt child because you have all been so generous to me and I felt such a warm welcome from the very beginning. To be honest, it has been very special to me to start this journey here at Bear Steps, at this amazing building with such nice location, and I have been very lucky to have the help and support of such friendly and inspiring people.

D.L: What does the Bear Steps Halloween Horrorfest mean to you personally?

A.P: The Halloween 2015 show was fantastic. Apart from the success I will remember it as a great experience, I learned a lot and met new people, that is the most important part to me. Obviously it was great to sell so many works (we all have to pay bills and art supplies are quite expensive) but it gave me so much encouragement to continue exhibiting my work.

I am really excited to take part in the Halloween show again this year, where I will exhibit five of my new works. These are mostly portraits where I explore the dark side of love and sexuality, focusing on concepts such as desire, the passing of time, self-destruction and revenge. It’s gong to be great to exhibit together with other artists, some of them good friends, see the people’s reaction and hear their feedback. I’m hugely looking forward to it.

D.L: 2016 has been a very busy year for you on the artistic front, amongst various other shows across the county you had your first solo show with us at Bear Steps. Can you tell me a little about that?

A.P: Yes, in May I had my first solo show, ”Reinventing the Impossible” at Bear Steps. It was a journey to celebrate freedom and the power of imagination. I created a main character, ”Madame Incredula”, who appeared in three works, a veiled woman that personifies emotional weakness, who is too afraid to follow her dreams and even abandons the possibility of love. The viewers could accompany her in a journey among her dreams and nightmares to discover a new universe where everything is possible and everyone can find their own freedom. The most important message that I wanted to convey was that it is never too late to reinvent yourself and do what you want to do, to be brave enough to be what you want to be.

D.L: How would you describe your work and particular style?

A.P: Surrealism is the style I identify most with. However, I consider myself to be a very curious person who likes to try new things so I am sure I will develop my style over the coming years and make sure it is as varied as possible. I don’t like to simply repeat the same things over and over, without challenging myself. I need to get stimulated by new ideas and approaches, but always maintain the same core essence and personality. My works are full of symbolism, there is always a narrative involved, they are a puzzle, an enigma, that needs to be solved by the viewer, with as many possible interpretations as varied as their own personal backgrounds and circumstances.

D.L: Who and what do you consider your primary influences?

A.P: I get inspired by lots of things every day. Life is my inspiration, especially travelling, fashion, music, cinema, literature…I especially like artists such as Salvador Dali, Hyeronimus Bosch, Egon Schiele, Rene Magritte…and contemporary ones like Vladimir Kush, Sergey Tyukanov and Andy Kehoe. My works are also influenced by writers, such as Edgar Allan Poe, H. P Lovecraft and Stephen King, and by movies such those created by Tim Burton, Guillermo del Toro and Alfred Hitchcock. Shrewsbury has been a great source of inspiration for me, its architecture, its gardens, the people I have met here, in general its atmosphere has influenced my work a lot. It’s an inspiring town, full

of history and charm, and it is impossible not to fall in love with it. I feel very lucky to be living and working here, the only downside is the weather, which I will never get used to, it’s especially difficult for someone coming from the south of Spain.

D.L: Can you tell me a little more about the creative process?

A.P: I have to say I am fascinated by this and how different artists approach their work in different ways. Inspiration usually come to me at night, just before gong to bed when I take some time to sketch new ideas, but I must confess that I am a day person, so I am more active during the day when I do most of my painting and experimentation. Sometimes it’s just an idea, a concept which needs to be developed through lots of sketching and thinking, but other times it’s such a clear vision that only needs to be directly transferred onto paper or canvas. Sometimes it takes just a few hours to create something, sometimes it takes months or even years to finish a piece. Sometimes it can be frustrating, especially when you don’t get the results that you are striving for, but in general I consider art as therapy. It helps me to escape from the pressures of everyday life and discover and understand parts of me that I didn’t previously know. It is an amazing journey which enables me to share my imaginary worlds with others and to connect with people on a much deeper level than I would otherwise get through casual conversation.

D.L: So, after Halloween Horrorfest 2016, what does the immediate future hold in store for Alberto Pitalua?

A.P: Well I am going to take part in Chester Arts Fair at the end of November, I would like to definitely continue exhibiting in Shrewsbury and maybe I might start a project I have had in my mind for several years: to illustrate a story I wrote some years ago and finally decide to publish it sometime next year. I am very excited about the future. I am very passionate about everything that I am doing at the moment and I hope I can have more opportunities to develop my style and artistic career in the future.

D.L: Well thank you for the interview Alberto, let’s hope the Halloween show is as well received and successful as it was last year, and all the best for your success and future projects.

A.P: Thank you, it’s been a pleasure. I’m so happy for the opportunities you have given me and I’m sure the Halloween Horrorfest will run for many years to come and produce lots of exciting new talent for the future.

The 4th incarnation of the Halloween Horrorfest will be on at Bear Steps Art Gallery from Sunday October 16th until Saturday October 29th, and with this year’s featuring macabre masterpieces by 20+ artists it shapes up to be the biggest one yet.

 

 

Harriet Devlin Talk at Bear Steps Thursday 20th October

harriet-devlin-talk

The Next Forum Meeting – Thursday 20th October at Bear Steps

The next SCS Forum Meeting features Harriet Devlin MBE as the speaker and will include an opportunity for questions about planning matters in Shrewsbury.

Harriet runs a Masters Course on Conservation Planning in Birmingham and lives in an early renovated timber framed house in Cressage. Her talk will focus on the trials and glories of timber framed historic buildings.

Date: Thurs 20th October Time; 7.00pm, Venue: Bear Steps Gallery. Title ‘Conservation creates Consternation – Saving old buildings’.

Brick Detective Unearths Clues to the Past

Over 40 Civic Society members took part in the eagerly-awaited brick walk through the streets of Shrewsbury last night (8th September) where the last itinerant brickmaker in the country, Tony Mugridge once again demonstrated his sleuth-like skills in unearthing the finest historic details from the local brickwork.

See full report in September’s newsletter. Meanwhile take a look at Bill Tomaszewski’s images from the evening.

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The Brick Detective Event this Thursday 8th September

Tony Mugridge at his best Tony Mugridge brick walk

Artist Rebecca Rea Exhibition at the Bear Steps Gallery August 7-20th 2016

A riot of colour introduces new artist to Shrewsbury
Expression is healing is the message Rebecca Rea wants visitors to her first exhibition to take away with them. The exhibition entitled Emergence will be held at the Bear Steps Gallery in Shrewsbury from August 7th-20th.

Exploring a range of emotions and experiences Rebecca uses expressive and highly colourful Acrylic painting in what she says is a process of emerging creativity through which she explores aspects of her own experience and wider themes that will touch viewers.

Combining different approaches to expression with many years’ experience as a healer and therapist, Rebecca also offers individual and group sessions for people interested in self development, overcoming barriers to self fulfilment and who wish to meet like minded people.

“Whether you see yourself as a complete no hoper as a creative person, or have experience, finding a way to express your inner creative spirit can be very healing and liberating”, says Rebecca, who moved to Shrewsbury this year.

For further information contact Rebecca via her website www.experimentinbeing.com or Facebook page @expressionishealing

Opening Hours:  10am-4pm Mon-Sun

Bear Steps Gallery

St Alkmonds Square, Shrewsbury SY1 1UHhttps://www.experimentinbeing.com

colour of tears_Rebecca Rea

colour of tears_Rebecca Rea

Gaia dreaming_Rebeca Rea

Gaia dreaming_Rebeca Rea

Spirit Sister_Rebecca Rea

Spirit Sister_Rebecca Rea

 

Volunteers needed as First World War Memorials Programme comes to the Bear Steps Shrewsbury

Daniel Kawczynski MP urges Shrewsbury residents to save local war memorials

The First World War Memorials Programme, launched by Prime Minister David Cameron in 2014, is calling for people in Shropshire to join a new front line of volunteers.

With the help of Civic Voice, one of the four partner organisations running the programme, Shrewsbury Civic Society is hosting a workshop to encourage volunteers to record the condition of the area’s war memorials.

Funding is available for the repair and conservation of memorials, but help is needed to find them and record their condition first, using a simple survey. Commenting on the programme, Daniel Kawczynski, MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, said: “The First World War Memorials Programme is a campaign I support whole heartedly. Civic Voice has done a great job at engaging the country in the programme and I encourage those in my constituency to get involved too. With the recent centenary commemorations of the Battle of the Somme there is no better time for the country to get involved and remember those who fell during the First World War.”

Martina Chamberlain of Shrewsbury Civic Society added: “If people from every area of the county were to undertake a simple survey of their local war memorial the result could be that all of Shropshire’s memorials could be in really good condition by 2018 when the commemoration of the end of the war takes place. We at Shrewsbury Civic Society are proud to be doing our bit.”

Come to the free workshop being held in Shrewsbury on Saturday July 23rd, 9.45am – 1.30pm, at Bear Steps, St. Alkmonds Place, Shrewsbury SY1 1UH. Reserve your free place by visiting www.civicvoice.org.uk/get-involved/events/ and following the links or contact info@civicvoice.org.uk or tel: 0151 707 4319.

Richard Bishop Photography

Shrewsbury Civic Society’s Martina Chamberlain with new recruit Daniel Daniel Kawczynski documenting one of Shropshire’s prominent war memorials in the Quarry.