New Temporary Exhibition at The Portal: Martin Poole

We are very excited this week as Martin Poole, the acclaimed Black Country artist, has been installing his works in our temporary exhibition space. For the next two months, visitors will get the chance to see Martin’s watercolour paintings of local industrial landscapes and trades, alongside more rural scenes of waterways from across the country. As Martin saw his works hung in our new exhibition space overlooking the canal, he expressed his delight:

“It feels like my paintings have come home”

Martin was born in Tipton and started drawing his impression of the sights and sounds of the area’s industrial activities at an early age. Martin was encouraged to draw by his great uncles and he later developed his work with the help of local artist, Ray Whitehouse. During his teenage years, Martin travelled to Canada and lived with his uncle for six years. After returning to the West Midlands, Martin carried out various different occupations, serving in the Royal Engineers and teaching in a West Bromwich primary school. Throughout these changing careers and locations, Martin’s love of painting never dwindled, but now he is able to dedicate even more time to develop his works.

Martin has exhibited his paintings in the local area, as well as across Britain, France, Canada and the U.S.A. He is a member of the Dudley Society of Artists and has recently exhibited in Dudley Artspace, a charity which holds art workshops and exhibitions for the local community . Martin has also been involved in Black Country Urban Sketchers, the local group of the national Urban Sketchers, a global community of artists who practice on-location drawing (visit the Black Country Urban Sketchers’ Facebook page).
The Black Country Sketchers aim to tell the story of the Black Country through ‘sketchcrawling’ days in various locations, for all ages and abilities. They are dedicated to sketching from observation and on location, as can be seen in their manifesto:

“We draw on location, indoors or out, capturing what we see from direct observation.
Our drawings tell the story of our surroundings, the places we live and where we travel.
Our drawings are a record of time and place.
We show the world, one drawing at a time.”

We have chosen a small selection of Martin’s paintings from the exhibition to showcase.
‘The Chain-maker’s Forge’ was in fact sketched during a Black Country Urban Sketchers’ session. Martin sketched whilst watching a demonstration of chain making, reflecting the Urban Sketchers’ aim of capturing scenes instantly.

‘A Tight Squeeze’ is a watercolour painting based on sketches of the entrance to our tunnels and limestone mines. Martin grew up in this area and he used to enjoy walking down the canals in Dudley. At this point, the limestone tunnels and mines would have looked very different and there was certainly no visitor centre! This painting reflects the original industrial function of the tunnels and the use of limestone in the local factories, which can be seen by the billowing smoke in the background.