A LOCAL artist loves Stratford-upon-Avon so much she’s devoted three months of her life creating a quirky hand-drawn map of the town centre which she describes as her personal love letter to the town and its people.
With passionate attention to detail and armed with a black ink pen, artist Jane Tomlinson has drawn Stratford as she saw it through the eyes of a little girl and then as a teenager growing up in the town.
With intricate attention to detail she has sketched Stratford, its people and its places in such a way that it translates into an overall image of the town she loves.
In many respects, the map is a journey through Stratford life for all of us as it depicts many sights that we, as Stratfordians, will have wandered past during the last 30 years or so.
It’s been a labour of love for Jane but it’s not lost on her just how important this town and its history is to her and—perhaps—millions of other people around the world, so why did she decide to draw the map?
“I was born in Hunts Road, I went to Bridgetown School, I used to go shopping in town with mum on a Saturday, and I listened to local bands at the Green Dragon when I was a teenager. I’ve seen Stratford through the seasons and could list a hundred reasons why I love this place, but I think the map tells the story better than I can and it’s there for all to see,” Jane said.
The map is almost a black and white patchwork quilt of Stratford town centre. It’s quirky, it contains caricatures and it takes the viewer on an concentric ride of illustration which sweeps over the Avon, around town streets and past historic buidlings. It resonates with a refreshingly welcome oasis of nostalgic pleasure and good old fashioned fun!
The method with which the artist moulds and blends your perception of the town alongside hers is quite thrilling. You are not disappointed with what you see, your expectations are raised and your memories of Stratford are matched with hers. In many ways the whole journey around the map of Stratford town centre is not unlike that first memorable ride at the town’s annual mop fair. It’s unforgettable and draws you back in for more.
As one would expect, there’s plenty of Shakespeare and lots of history in the map. Almost everything is included and thanks to Jane’s infinite attention to detail, even some of Stratford’s much loved shops and venues, which have long-since gone are also featured, like, Pargetters Bakery, the Web gift shop and the Old Picture House.
“It’s how I saw and grew up in this lovely town and I hope the map will create a living image for others as well. Just like Stratford—it’s there to be enjoyed,” Jane said.
It features, motor bikers on Waterside, Morris Men, Shakespeare, Hamlet, Lady Macbeth, the cattle market, The Dirty Duck, and even a couple of lovers on the Recreation Ground, virtually everything is depicted in this diligent collage of the town.
Perhaps the last words should be left to Stratford’s most famous son, Shakespeare, who once said, “ I like this place and willingly could spend time in it.” Could these words be interpreted as a premonition from the great man of what we feel for ‘this place’ right now?
The original of Jane’s map of Stratford is currently on display in the Montpellier Gallery, Chapel Street, Stratford, until the end of the month.
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