You might have noticed that this blog went quiet over the summer months. This was partly because there was so much coming and going with 2 sons on uni vacations, but also because we were planning a trip to Darwin, Australia. Anselm, my eldest son, has been living there for the last 18 months, and we hadn’t seen him for 2 years so decided that it was about time to catch up with him. So we had a memorable 2 and a half weeks there at the beginning of September. It was by far the furthest I have ever travelled and was an amazing adventure. We went on Malaysian Airlines who were the cheapest (I wonder why?!! – we noticed that by the return flight we had been given Frequent Flyer status!).
We spent the first week in Darwin itself and for the second we hired a four wheel drive vehicle to take us to various local national parks – Kakadu, Katherine Gorge and Litchfield. Of course, in Australia local means driving the same milage as the length of Belgium! Unfortunately my camera spent too long on the beach one sunset and got sand in its lens – the zoom stopped working so I had to take most of my photos on my phone; nevertheless, here are a few of the memorable ones.
I didn’t get any good photos of the actual art but if you google Ubirr or Nourlangie rock art you’ll see plenty.
We went for an amazing dawn cruise on the Yellow Water Billabong, and saw lots of wildlife including crocodiles and pelicans.
If you’d like to see more photos, my son Anselm has an amazing collection on his Instagram.
Incidentally, the ancient vehicle that the hire firm palmed off on us met with an unfortunate end highlighted here in the local NT News…
For a while now, I’ve been trying to decide which direction to take my art, and have been gradually accumulating a huge pile of scanned textural papers from playing around in my studio.
Exciting news – for the last couple of weeks I’ve been working hard developing digital downloads from my painted and printed papers. I’m planning to sell them in my Etsy shop as kits for digital scrapbooking and art journalling. The big unveiling is being planned for Saturday 14 November!
Here’s a sneak preview of one part of one kit …
If this is something that you might be interested in, sign up for my newsletter, where I also plan to offer subscriber-only discounts and freebies. There will be an extra special discount for the opening weekend!
If you’ve been reading this blog a long time, you may remember that I used to do a lot of printing with a little Japanese machine called the Print Gocco. I hadn’t used it for ages for one reason and another, but earlier this year, I couldn’t find a birthday card that I liked to send to my eldest son so I dusted it off and did a lot of printing.
It was nice to get it out again after so long.
I decided to print a photo of Newport since he had been away for nearly 2 years and I thought (probably wrongly!) that he might like to see it.
This is the one I chose. I did a 3 colour separation and printed 3 screens in halftone and this one of them. It’s not one of the best as I put the ones I printed on folded cards in a safe place (ha – too safe!).
Of course I couldn’t stop there! I had taken a photo of some phoneboxes and a postbox in Cheltenham one year which I thought would be a good complement to my London bus prints.
It was fun printing these in various colours.
I got rather carried away by the end … of course there’s no point printing if you’re going to stop after one or two!
Before I continue with my brief biography of William Hopkins, my 2x great grandfather, this is a short note about Charles, his father. I mentioned briefly that Charles died suddenly aged 30 (in his burial record it says aged 28) and that the coroner recorded it as a ‘Visitation of God’ which is the wording they used when they didn’t actually know what caused such sudden demise. But when I wrote the post I didn’t know any other details of his death, apart from the fact that he had died in Newcastle under Lyme, a few miles from his home in Shelton, Stoke on Trent.
Until the British Newspaper Archive digitized the relevant issue of the local newspaper for 1840.
SUDDEN DEATH AT NEWCASTLE – on Thursday morning, as Charles Hopkins, an out-door pauper of the Spittals Workhouse, was assisting to draw a hand-cart, containing bread, from that place to Stoke, when passing along the Back Marsh, on their way through Newcastle to the latter place, he said – “Let’s rest a bit, for the cart goes heavy; the wheels want greasing;” which words he had scarcely uttered when he immediately fell down senseless. A medical gentleman was promptly on the spot, when it was found that life was quite extinct. The deceased, up to the time of his using the above words, had not complained of indisposition. He was about thirty-five years of age, and resided at Tinker’s Clough, in the township of Shelton, and was by trade a slip-maker. He has left a wife and four children to lament his untimely death. An inquest was held on the body on the same day, before F. Stanier, Esq., coroner, and a verdict returned “died by the visitation of God.” (Staffordshire Advertiser, Saturday October 10th, 1840.)
So that answered a few of my questions, and posed a few more. The Spittals Workhouse was the workhouse for Stoke on Trent but was very close to the border with Newcastle under Lyme (when I was a teenager I used to walk past there – now a hospital – on my way to the shops in Newcastle from our home in Penkhull). So that explains why he died in Newcastle. An outdoor pauper apparently was one who received support but didn’t live in the workhouse. I knew he was a slipmaker in the pottery industry and that it was a pretty unhealthy job but I suppose he must have been out of work at the time since he needed relief from the workhouse. Apparently around 1840 was a period of high unemployment in the Potteries and lots of people travelled to America then in the hope of building a better life for themselves, and it was around then that the Chartist movement was so strong.
So William’s poor mother Mary was left to bring up 3 (or four, if the newspaper was correct and there was another child we haven’t found yet) on her own.
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