I was asked by The Ridings if I would like to document a week in the life of the Shopping Centre as part of their 30th Anniversary celebrations. These pages are from photographs and notes I made during my visits.



One of the most popular elements of the exhibition has been our “A Week In The Life Of The Ridings” illustrations. Here, local artist and illustrator John Welding has captured the essence of The Ridings Shopping Centre by completing a set of diary pages showing the day-to-day going on inside the Centre.

How did you decide what to include?

I started by walking around The Ridings, taking routes through the centre I don’t usually use. A lot of my artwork is based on documenting everyday experiences while living in Wakefield and trying to convey familiar things with new eyes, so having permission to stand and watch the world go by in The Ridings is a real treat. I wasn’t after interviewing people as such, I have found that as soon as people find out they are being interviewed or photographed they strike a pose and stop acting naturally. My recent work has involved drawing a lot of Architecture but I feel that people are just as important to make a place really interesting.

How was the artwork made?

A real mix of hi and low tech methods. I have been drawing professionally for over 20 years and find certain things work for me better than others. At the moment I am using a camera and a notebook to gather reference, then back at home I will organise images in Photoshop. I then use a light box to make the artwork with dip pens and ink and watercolour on paper.  I like dip pens, you get a density to the ink that you just don’t get with marker pens. Once I have the line work and writing down on paper I then use watercolour over the top of that, with maybe a bit of white pencil for hi-lights and blue pencil for shadows as a finishing touch.

How long did it take?

Some pages I really struggled with for a week and some pages practically wrote and drew themselves in a day, about two months was spent making the 10 pages. I would start a page by taking notes and photographs and maybe some really sketchy drawings in my Moleskine sketchbook. From there I would organise a story line or if there was a particular photographic image that sparked something I would go with that.

Which is your favourite Image?

Most of the pages contain something that I love. Some of the pages contain a scrappy bit of drawing or a turn of phrase that maybe didn’t convey exactly what I wanted to say. I get wary at reworking a page too much; I want them to contain the spontaneity that I might off felt when I encountered something in The Ridings. At the same time I want to give the reader the best chance of understanding what I might be going on about. I was quite pleased with the perspective of the tower block of flats on top of The Ridings.

What did you enjoy most?

Having permission to wander the malls, exploring the different angles of a place I have walked for the past 14 years.


Words From The Ridings Blog Interview




Diary Pages for The Ridings 30th Birthday Anniversary