Friday, 1 May 2015

The Bear That Stayed The Night In Liskeard

A story found in a wonderful book called 'Liskeard Bygones' by Jack Haworth led me to begin a drawing about a lodging house in Higher Lux Street and its unexpected guest. The lodging house was owned by 'Bat' Rowe who had the pleasure of offering lodgings to two frenchmen who had neglected to mention their profession and  unbeknown to 'Bat'  had a performing bear. On the night in question the two Frenchmen retired to bed and left the bear in the downstairs passage. Old 'Bat', returning home late and in a tipsy condition, stumbled over the bear in the dark and thinking it was a drunken lodger shouted "what the deuce.... Why don't you get your boots off and go to bed like the rest ?". Suddenly, the bear angrily rose to its feet, at the sight of which old Bat took a flying leap out of the house refusing to return until the animal and its owners were well on the road next morning. My drawing shows the moments after Bat had fled and a local neighbour is investigating what all the commotion is about.
I have seen old photographs by J.H and C.H. Coath from the period around 1906 of bear performers on the beach front at Downderry in Cornwall. One can just imagine the pain and discomfort the poor bear would have experienced so in the drawing I chose not to show the head harness or the sticks for beating the bear.

The smartly dressed man with top hat is furious with the bear handler in the centre of picture as he neglected to keep the head harness on the bear. The bear tamer fellow in the centre of picture is doffing his hat at a mistress on the top landing who is out of picture and completely oblivious to the drama. 

I feel quite pleased with the drawing as it feels more or less complete. Possibly need to define the hands of the man on the stairs otherwise we are there. I used a little artistic licence when it came to the view through the doorway as the shop on the left is 'Oughs' the butchers which is at the bottom of Lower Lux Street. I felt the shop front composition works well as it leads the eye beyond the doorway.