Artist’s sketches of punters at The Flying Pig to go on display at pub
An artist is opening an exhibition in a Cambridge pub after capturing the daily life of the popular venue with a series of ink sketches.
Jim Butler, who leads the MA in illustration and book arts at Cambridge School of Art, Anglia Ruskin University, took up his drawing pad at the much-loved Flying Pig pub on Hills Road.
There is a cloud over the Flying Pig at the moment as public consultation continues over a developer’s plans for the site, while an online petition to save the pub has attracted more than 13,000 signatures.
But Jim, who is a regular at the pub, says the focus of the exhibition is enjoying the atmosphere at the pub now and supporting landlords Justine and Matt Hatfield rather than any kind of campaign.
Jim said: “The main thing is rather than getting bogged down in worries about the future is that people should make sure they enjoy it while it is still there - celebrate it, enjoy it, support it.
“There are lots of places that have disappeared in Cambridge over the years that people talk about but never went to very much. Make sure that if this pub does go in a few years’ time that you have really enjoyed it now at its best.”
Featuring his sketches of the regulars and musicians who ventured into the bar, the pictures will go on display in the back room of the pub, where they can be purchased for £250 each.
Jim fitted in the drawings around his work at ARU. The exhibition, titled ‘Pork scratchings - Drawings of The Flying Pig’ will run from February 27 to April 6.
“The pictures were done over the course of five or six weeks - I couldn’t skive off every lunchtime! All of the drawings were completely done there, on the spot,” he said, adding that punters were aware he was drawing them.
“The first thing I tried to clock was if they were going to be there for a while. There’s no point starting a long drawing if they are about to finish their pint and go.
“I'm fairly conspicuous as well. I've got ink and a sketchbook and the sticks that I use. I generally just approach people.
“I nearly always draw with ink. I like drawing people and architecture and I use a lot of collage in my work.”
Jim praised the landlords for the quality of musical acts they booked.
“For a very small venue that has music four nights a week, it's excellent.They are getting really good people to play. The atmosphere is superb - it is lovely and friendly,” he said.
The pub dates back to the 1840s. Pace Developments owns the land it sits on and plans to build offices and retail space there.
After thousands signed a petition calling for the Flying Pig to be saved, the developer announced it could retain the front bar of the pub and its facade within the new development.
But campaigners fear demolishing the back bar of the pub and removing the living accommodation and beer garden could cripple the business.
Jim said: “The scale is all wrong and it dwarfs the pub. The pub will be cut in two. Whether the pub would even survive all that building work is very questionable.”
More by this authorAlex Spencer