Express & Star

Aldridge artist draws on art to help recovery

Talented artist Maurice Ivor Birch thought he had drawn his final sketch after suffering his fifth stroke in July.


The summer attack had been his worst to date and he lost all feeling in his right side as a result.

But the 74-year-old self taught artist, who has dedicated the vast majority of his life to his love of drawing, was not going to let it get in the way of his drawing.

Maurice has spent more than 40 years sketching historic buildings from around his home town of Aldridge on to a scroll he purchased at a car boot sale in Cannock back in 1969.

A selection of that work made it into Aldridge On A Roll, a poetry and local history book released by Mapseekers Archived Publishing last month.

However, following publication Maurice was hit by a series of strokes and was confined to his garden and conservatory in Aldridge with his devoted wife, Beryl.

He said: "I really did think I couldn't carry on.

"I had lost the feeling in my right side and even going out and promoting the book felt like too much for me.

"I even said to friends that I wouldn't be doing any more sketches."

In recent weeks, Maurice has worked his strength up and is now back to his scroll, which he says acts as a historical record of the town he grew up in and lives in to this day.

He has added 17 sketches to his scroll since picking up a pencil again, a process which he says is helping him come to terms with an active life following his latest stroke.

His recent sketches include Pennard House in Stonnall Road, Croft Cottage in Portland Road and Aldridge Library. The retired quality control engineer said: "One day I just thought, why should I give this up just because of these physical problems?

"I decided I wasn't going to let it beat me and I started to draw again.

Sketch - Croft Cottage, Portland Road, Aldridge

"It took some getting used to at first but I am slowly getting back in to the swing of things and I really think drawing is helping me. A lot of these old buildings I have drawn are gone now, so this work that I didn't really think much of has become quite important for the area.

"I am not as mobile as I used to be so actually going out and finding new places to draw is probably the hardest part, but I get friends to help me by taking photographs.

"I usually do older buildings but I think the library is a beautiful building with a great deal of importance to the town."

The railway station, the old Avion cinema, feature cottages, churches and pubs are among the buildings he has lovingly penned. The roll of illustrated paper now reaches 116ft and continues to grow.

He has drawn a lot of the buildings from memory as they have long since been demolished.

Some were replicated from photographs and he has now resorted to Google Earth to look for more subjects.

He has drawn more than 100 buildings on the roll of paper and around 75 of them have been used in the book.

For information on how to get a copy of Aldridge on a Roll call 07525 083463.

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