Produced for Appetite, 25/03/22
Appetite, Arts Council England’s creative people and places project in North Staffordshire, has commissioned five local artists to create new Maps in March, illustrating different aspects of Newcastle-under-Lyme town centre.
I dragged two of the artists away from their drawing boards at Appetite’s Newcastle Common arts space and enjoyed a stroll and a chat to find out more.
“It turns out with Newcastle-under-Lyme that the market’s been one of the main things for the culture of the place,” says Kidda.Kidda’s theme for Maps in March is the town’s bustling market.
“Recently I was reading a report,” said Kidda, “where apparently in 1162, that’s when the town was first documented in historic records, what happened was the castle was built and erected. Apparently the closest other one was Chester. It was basically erected which allowed people in the local villages to come for protection. And what happened is the garrison would allow people to trade their things every Thursday, and before you knew it, it basically turned in to a market, because people were transporting through from Liverpool to Manchester or Birmingham. And instead of it being Stoke, Newcastle-under-Lyme became the coaching city. It ended up being like, actually you can have that market on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, just make it all week!”
Eco artist Su Hurrell, you may know her as Ladybird Su, is also scouting around the town centre for inspiration for her new map.
Su’s theme for Maps in March is the town centre’s green spaces and trees, and she’s already made some great finds!
Su took the me to a raised planter on Brook Lane where there’s a surprising little tree.
She explained: “In the middle of this planter is an ancient olive tree. I’ve been told that the tree is about a hundred years old. It used to live in Grosvenor Gardens, which are the sunken roundabout gardens up in the town centre. But it was moved when the council reconfigured the planting island. It’s pretty amazing to see a mature olive tree in the middle of Newcastle, surrounded by more native species, and it’s just very happy there, got a lovely little sunspot to grow in.”
Isn’t it incredible? There are lots of quirky little features that we walk and drive past every day. Appetite’s Maps in March project is aiming to make some of these town centre sites better known and better appreciated.
The five illustrators are keen to hear from you if you know of an interesting feature for their maps.
The new maps will explore these specific themes: nature, independent businesses, markets and stalls, food and drink outlets, and feeling safe within the town centre.
Jerome @photomoments has been commissioned to report on activities at Appetite’s Newcastle Common arts space.