Friday, 12 June 2015

Cloud over Liskeard

In 1832 during an outbreak of cholera, when thirty seven inhabitants contracted the disease and nineteen died from it in a single month, a dark cloud hung over the centre of Liskeard town and many thought that the cloud was causing the cholera. It was decided to fire the cannon from the Castle grounds into the cloud in the hope that it would disperse it. The firing caused stunned amazement and fear among the neighbourhood. After this event the cannon was said to have been in poor condition and it was decided by the town corporation authority to have the cannon 'spiked' and so put beyond further use. The cannon was soon after transported to the military Garrison in Plymouth.
Due to the growing population in the 1800s, sanitary arrangements were becoming more and more inadequate. There was an increasing demand for water from Pipe Well and, more importantly, an increasing volume of waste products which some how had to be shifted out of the built up area. Overcrowding was given an extra twist in the 1840s when miners and others poured into the town, adding to the difficulties of avoiding disease. It was cholera, above all else, that had shattered complacency, even before the population boom of the 1840s. A report in the West Briton noted the victims: "those attacked are mostly persons in low circumstances, and the deaths were chiefly amongst old persons who had been in ill-health, and children.... the deaths have chiefly taken place in one part of the town."
However, once the immediate danger of cholera had receded, the sanitary question also ceased to be a matter of urgent concern. As late as 1836, the town dung was still being dumped at the prison, near Pipe Well, although the Town Council then decided to remove it to the garden near the school in Castle Street where it was to be sold monthly. There was presumably little regard at the time for the well being of the children attending the school.

The drawing is at a very early stage and I just wanted to consider a vertical type of cloud forming in the centre. A large crowd of people will be gathered to the bottom left of picture together with a lady in a long black mourning dress and male figure next to her. The cannon may not be in view but the firing can be seen.

I drew the buildings in the distance first so as to establish a high view over the town. I then started looking for an angel from various grave yard statues and found this one as the wings suited the general shape I was after. The female figure in the foreground has lost her daughter to the disease which is taking many lives. She is burning her daughters clothes that she died in on the fire. The young boy is the little girls brother and he cannot cope with the grief of his loss and is running away. The lady with the dark bonnet clutches her possessions as she does not want to stay in the town. The figure held by the angel is one of the victims of the cholera. The cannon is going to be represented as a glowing light above the ladies head with the bonnet. I still need to work out how I will represent the swirling cloud above the angel.