I have written about ‘And The House Watches On’ in this blog previously. It is a recently published book that came about through a collaboration between poet Neil Elder and myself. It tells the story of West House, a former manor house in Pinner, Middlesex over almost 200 years through poems by Neil Elder and Drawings and prints by myself. A creative response to the story of the house which is now a cafe, exhibition and event space next to a Museum housing a collection of the work of William Heath Robinson. During the course of research for my drawings and prints for the book I referred to a number of sources which I used to inspire my work and the resulting drawings and prints became my response to Neils poetry and the history of West House and its grounds. Here are some of my notes next to the images. In his blog www.neilelderpoetry.wordpress.com Neil has also written about the background and detail of our project and a copy of the book can be purchased there.
This is a drypoint print* which is developed from an archive photograph in the public domain. I intended that the print had a very fragmentary appearance which appeals to the sense of history of the book. It also depicts the lake because of the house reflection. The House is printed almost in ‘white’ silhouette, with only hint of windows and architectural detail, with the lake in the foreground.
…. the empty house in silhouette stands sentry
A silent house
This is a pencil drawing developed from research of images of male figures from the late Georgian period in period clothing. Also it is the product of research into the shape and design of the blunderbuss ……… the master of the house has been gone all day
took his gun and went to meet a man;
This is a pencil drawing developed from researching images of Victorian women in mourning. I was thinking of the novel by Susan Hill, ‘The Woman in Black’ ( a ghost story in the 19th century tradition) and its Victorian sensibility. I wanted to show the Victorian austere and melancholic approach to mourning and draw upon the sense of a ghost like figure as inspired by Susan Hills ghost story.
Everybody knows the lady in black
Away day at home
This is a Drypoint print from an archive photograph of the house and staff. It’s a very poignant image but also shows the rigidity and formality of pose even though they are supposed to be relaxing. The drypoint gives a more degraded and fragmented image as a sort of memory, a documentation of a passed event, a photograph degraded by age
With their people away
the girls have been lording it up
Dreaming the impossible
This is a pencil drawing of the Heath Robinson museum developed from my own sketches and photographs. The Museum was built in 2016 and I was the inaugural artist in residence at the museum and absorbed myself in the extensive collection of William Heath Robinsons work. The abstraction of the lines in the sloping roof and the geometry of the walls are attended to in my drawing. Through drawing these aesthetics are brought to the fore.
….beneath the sloping roof
of a temperature controlled museum
This is a drypoint print of the poppies in the War memorial in the quiet room of Daisy’s café on the ground floor of West House. This is based on my own on site sketches, observations and photographs. The poppies are the memorial symbol of lives lost in war. ‘the book’ referred to in Neil’s Poem is housed in a glass case next to the poppies which are depicted in the drawing
This is a pencil drawing of the lake next to West House iced over many winters ago probably in the early 2000s. I also made a drypoint print of this image which is in the book.
This image is based on my own photographs of the lake when it was iced over. I chose not to draw the figures of the schoolboys referred to in Neil’s poem. My drawing is the setting and Neils work evokes the action, which is consistent with the idea that my drawings are not illustrations of Neils work but that they act as prompts to my own depictions and memories and responses to this place. It gives our work a specific and universal feel at the same time.
This is an ink drawing of a derelict West House developed from a photograph I took sometime in the 1990s. It depicts blacked out windows, and a peopleless empty silent setting and the cypress casting a shadow across the empty building. Neils poem evokes an empty boarded up building gradually degrading. The building in my depiction is the vacant and derelict west house which was so for much of the 1990s.
Priya and Pamela
This is a drypoint print made from a photograph of an Anderson shelter in a book on Pinner. There is some evidence of there being an Anderson shelter at the now junction of the memorial park car park entrance. I am unsure whether there was one in the Pinner Memorial park itself.
inside the Anderson
This is a pencil drawing of West House in 2020 from my own on site sketches and photographs. To the right in the drawing is part of the Museum.
in the shade of a cypress tree
that stands like a sentry
outside a memorial reborn
‘And The House Watches On’ can be purchased at
The images are the copyright of Charlotte Harker
*drypoint printmaking – A drypoint is a form of intaglio printing where the image is incised into a surface and the incisions hold the ink. The image is then transferred to the paper when the inked plate is passed through an etching press. Other forms of intaglio include Etching and Engraving