Earlier this year I spotted a painting of Preston Bus Station at the Harris Museum and Art Gallery’s Open Exhibition. I loved its precise lines and simplicity, so much so I jotted the name of the painting and its creator down in my notepad. Built in the Brutalist architectural style Preston Bus Station has been in the British national press recently after a campaign was set up to save it from demolition. A few months later I went in search of the painter, WED Ryan, and discovered the painting, entitled For Demolition?, is soon to be available as a postcard.
William Edward David Ryan was educated at Preston Grammar School and Harris Technical College/School of Art pursuing architecture. He became a member of Royal Institute of British Architects in 1965 and a partner in Derby Fazackerley Wood & Ryan Architects, Preston from 1965-1993.
“As you will appreciate buildings have had a large influence on my life,” he says from his home in Walton-Le-Dale. “I can’t live without ‘doing something with them’.”
“In 1994 I decided to record, in watercolour, all the medieval church towers located within the Ecclesiastical Province of York, which included the Dioceses of Chester, Liverpool, Manchester, Blackburn, Carlisle, Newcastle, Durham, Ripon, Bradford, York, Sheffield, Wakefield and Southwell. I enjoyed finding, photographing and producing a watercolour of some five hundred and one towers. As a slight deviation I then started producing montages containing of buildings in various cities and towns.”
One of these montages, Landscapes of Preston, was one of ten finalists in the Sunday Telegraph National Watercolour Competition in 2011. It features many of Preston’s landmarks new as well as old; St Walburges Church, The Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston North End, UCLAN library and St Augustine’s amongst others.
Such is his dedication David has painted montages of buildings twice in Preston, Liverpool, Halifax, Beverley, Lytham St Annes, Chorley and South Ribble.
“I was also privileged to be asked to produce the Preston Guild montage showing buildings of Preston and its twin towns of Nimes, Almelo, Recklinghausen and Kalisz. Only five copies were made, one now being displayed in each of the cities.”
David has previously exhibited a montage of twenty three buildings that had been ‘Lost Since 1946’ at the Harris Museum and Art Gallery’s Open Exhibition in 2011.
I wondered which of Preston’s buildings he was sad to see go and why?
“Buildings like people have a life. When they have finished the use for which they were built they have to go,” he says. “If this hadn’t been the case Preston would still be a collection of wattle and daub huts.”
Postcards featuring the work of WED Ryan are available in the Visitor and Information Centre, Guild Hall, Preston.