Raise a glass to pub artist

Frank Morris’s highly detailed sketches of Camden’s pubs are not only a great reminder of their exceptional architecture but also their importance in the community, says Dan Carrier

Thursday, 20th August 2020 — By Dan Carrier

The Assembly House

The Assembly House, by Frank Morris

HONOURING the glorious architectural splendour of Camden’s pubs is the subject of a new project by artist Frank Morris.

Sitting outside his favourite Kentish Town pubs, he has embarked on a series of detailed pencil sketches of the watering holes that brighten up our streets, provide reminders of our Victorian heritage and the role of the pub in our communities.

The results are highly detailed fine drawings of three Victorian landmarks – The Assembly House, The Pineapple, and the Boston Arms, buildings whose frontages have pleased generations.

Frank creates his work over a number of hours.

“During two-hour sessions, I sketch out the building and its intricacies,” he says.

“It is a nice way to work – I have been able to speak to people walking past about the pubs, what they mean to them, their history – and it’s really nice to have this type of interaction with the subject.”

Frank Morris

Frank, 25, grew up in Kentish Town and went to school at Acland Burghley, celebrated for its art department.

He completed an arts foundation course at the London College of Communication before taking a gap year – and then heading to the University of East Anglia to study American Literature.

And it was completing his dissertation that was, in some part, an inspiration for the pub series.

“I completed my dissertation in the form of a comic book,” he says.

“Its title was The Social History of the American Home. I started with the Puritan settlers, made my way through the Industrial Revolution, followed the change from subsistence farming and considered industrialisation on the domestic sphere, and how the home highlighted different roles for men and women.”

The Pineapple

Turning to the aesthetic of buildings, he cites his tutors’ open-mindedness regarding his final project, allowing him to create the graphic social history that earned him a first-class Honours degree.

“My dissertation really got me on to it,” he recalls. “There is something pleasing about perspective and finding the symmetry in the design.”

He considered the role of architecture in shaping and reflecting the society of the time – a point that comes over in his current choice of subject.

The freelance illustrator embarked on studies of pubs – and intends to keep sketching more in the coming months, starting with Tapping The Admiral in Castle Road – having spent the last three years on commercial work, including creating award-winning designs for a brewery.

The Boston Arms

He says his inspirations include “nature, folk tales, Edwardian English fashion, literature as well as my day-to-day interactions with the world around me,” which is reflected in his studies of pubs.

Another is the celebrated Camden Town artist David Gentleman, whose beautiful work features our neighbourhoods.

“I love his view of London, and how he captures it,” adds Frank.

He says that Camden’s pubs are often not appreciated enough.

“We have some of the most ornamentally designed, beautiful, captivating buildings you can look at,” he says.

“But they become so normalised – you go there with your mates for a drink and you can forget how stunning these buildings really are.”

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