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Draw on Halton - Maria Tarn

During our 'Draw on Halton' creative challenge, it gave us on an opportunity to reflect on previous bodies of work that are relevant to the individual prompts. We could then share this work to create and inspire discussion.

The first of our artists to inspire the 'Canals/Rivers' prompt for #drawonhalton was Maria Tarn Textile Artist and we will look at some of her previous work.

This work was part of the Markmakers - Artists exhibition in Ellesmere Port Summer 2019.

Initially I worked through a few ideas, some on a large scale which reflected the huge size of the canal side environment I had explored. I liked the images of the canal workers too, however I found their poses in the old photographs very static and not workmanlike. It was difficult to say anything new about the subject matter I thought, as it is well documented. Then one cold day I returned to the site to explore again in search of inspiration. I entered the barge resting outside the museum. Once I had contemplated the small crowded, colourful, cosy cabin, I made up my mind to work on a small scale that would reflect this. The cabin was very richly decorated with traditional florals and other patterns. I had tried to resist using the obvious flower designs originally. However, my interest in folk art took hold again, drawing my attention to the details and how it had enriched the domestic environment within. This aspect appealed to me so it eventually emerged within my pictures. Celebrating the work of skilled local artists based within the canal basin. The drawings I made become the starting points for my interpretation using textiles and some painting followed by free machine embroidery techniques to embellish the work. The colour palette replicates the bright primary colours used in the traditional decorative details of canal boats. The idea of something new is reflected in the piece Mr Brindley’s Locks. This innovative clever mechanism still fascinates people today. Other pictures convey the variety of environments seen while travelling through the countryside or built up areas in a barge.

Maria found some old photos recently taken when she first came to Runcorn in the early 70’s, so has used these to inspire her ‘Open Spaces’ for #drawonhalton

She walked around Norton and the areas that later became Murdishaw and Windmill Hill.

This work is a reminder of parts of Halton before the New Town was completed.

She painted a background with watercolour and acrylic paint and used a free machine embroidery zigzag stitch.






‪Local Artist Maria Tarn was inspired by the Saint Christopher statue in Norton Priory Museum & Garden

‪It reminded her of the many pictures of refugee children brought ashore. So she updated the clothes, although it’s a timeless act of rescue/ kindness #drawonhalton ‬watercolour and wax resist

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