Author Archives: Stuart_d_Irwin82

New projects, old boats…

It has been a great start to the New Year as I’m embarking on a new commission to create a piece of Wirral history.

The Princess Charlotte

Newspaper clipping advertising the Ferry between Liverpool and Eastham, 1816.

This year is the bicentenary of the first steamer that ran on the River Mersey between Liverpool and Eastham on Wirral, The Princess Charlotte. Sketches and lithographs of the boat featured in 19th Century newspapers and literature but it has never been properly depicted in colour before. To create the painting I’ll be working off these old prints, along with sketches I made at Eastham in 2012 / 13. Having spent many hours absorbing the landscape and river, I’m really excited by the prospect of depicting a stretch of the Mersey coastline I really love!

The painting will go on display for the first time at the Wirral History & Heritage Fair at Birkenhead Town Hall on Saturday 12th March. Check back in a month to see the finished work, and if you can make it down on the 12th – see you there. Stuart


Bridge Cottage, Port Sunlight

Throughout August and early September I will be in residence and have work available for sale at Bridge Cottage in Port Sunlight. The cottage has been opened as part of a pilot project run by Port Sunlight Museum, and will be open at selected times throughout the week, with free entry.

The Cottage was formally home (for a brief period in the 1890s) to the founder of Port Sunlight, William Hesketh Lever, and as well as an architecturally beautiful house on the outside, it still retains some of its original sumptuousness inside. Hopefully an inspiring place to work… please see Port Sunlight Museum’s dedicated Facebook page for more details of opening times;

Bridge Cottage, Port Sunlight

Bridge Cottage, Port Sunlight

Watercolours at the Williamson…

The Williamson Art Gallery in Birkenhead are displaying their rather lovely collection of 19th Century watercolours at the moment. Two of my highlights were Turners Gulf of Naples (‘Vesuvius angry’) and Constables Layer Marney Towers, Essex which is a slight, shadowy thing.  I like the Williamson because it has a interesting and rich landscape collection and it does these low key exhibitions well.


A sad and silent mystery…

After a slow start last year,  this post welcomes in the new year and will hopefully be the first of many in 2015. Having spent a few of those quieter and slower Christmas moments sorting through some old sketches at home, and thinking about possible projects for the forthcoming year, I dug out these two watercolor sketches from 2012. The idea was abandoned at the time, but the story behind them is an interesting one.

Sketch for The Final voyage of the MV Joyita, Watercolour, 2012

I have been fascinated, and at times haunted, by the tale of the MV Joyita since I read about it in a ‘Great Unsolved Mysteries’ book about historic enigmas when I was about 8 or 9. The tragedy can lay claim to being the Mary Celeste of the 20th Century, although with added drama and pathos as the story of the main protagonists could be taken from a Hollywood movie.

Joyita sketches, 2012

Three of the main players in the Joyita Mystery, including the enigmatic Captain, Thomas ‘Dusty’ Miller, sketched in my copy of Robin Maugham’s ‘The Joyita Mystery’ from 1962.

The bare bones of the story are that in October 1955, a 69-foot motor vessel with 25 people on board disappeared on a routine trip to Fakaofo in the Tokelau Islands in the South Pacific. Long overdue and with no distress message received, an extensive air and sea search was mounted but revealed no trace of the boat. Five weeks later and hundreds of miles off course she was found drifting, waterlogged and listing in the empty ocean. Most dramatically of all, when she was boarded by crew from the Gilbert Islands boat Tuvala, there was not a soul aboard her dead or alive. With no clue left as to what had happened or their whereabouts, none of the 25 people on the vessel were ever found.

Sketch for The Abandoning of the MV Joyita, Watercolour, 2012

Anyone wishing to discover more, I recommend David G. Wright’s book ‘Joyita – Solving the Mystery’ (Auckland University Press, 2002), which gets to the heart of many issues surrounding the case, but leaves some of the mystery in tact. In the meantime, keep you eyes peeled here for progress on the paintings over the course of the year. SI

Port Sunlight postcards!

Port Sunlight postcards

The postcards on display, Port Sunlight Museum

Postcards of my Port Sunlight paintings are now available in the gift shop at Port Sunlight Museum! There are 10 to choose from, priced at a very reasonable 85p. Port Sunlight Museum is situated at the heart of Port Sunlight Village, a stones throw from the world famous Lady Lever Art Gallery.

Gallery now open…

Children in the Meadow, Port Sunlight

‘Children in the Meadow’, Port Sunlight – Oil on canvas board, 2012

A selection of my work is available to buy and is now displayed in the Gallery section of the website! Please browse on over and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions regarding any of the paintings, and more will be added as time goes by.