The excitement for me as an artist lies not in exploring the unknown but in how I can effectively organise a visual arrangement that reflects the atmosphere and intensity of an environment, evoking a precise moment of the day under specific light and conditions. I hope you enjoy the work
Feature of the week 21/01/2018
I was inspired to paint this subject by the buildings apparent isolation and the smoke that frequently drifted from the chimney. It was a spot I often passed when I took a short cut to go shopping in Chrisp Street Market. It took me months to get the plume of smoke the right “white”. I exhibited the final canvas several times during the eighties and early nineties under the misnomer ‘Suzannah Street’, thinking that was where it was situated.
Twenty years or more later I met Steve, who is now my husband. When he saw this painting, he said 'Oh that’s Bartlett Park, named after the head of St. Saviour’s where my Dad went to school'. Steve went on to explain that Father Bartlett was a clergyman from a wealthy aristocratic background (some called him Lord Bartlett) who spent over fifty years educating poor children in the East End. This was a time when Missions were set up to help educate and support the communities of the east end, usually managed and run by a range of activists from outside the area. Clement Atlee was a contemporary in neighboring Stepney and Limehouse, and Steve recalls how fondly they were remembered at his father’s family gatherings, and with how much respect they were referred. When I researched for more information there was very little I could discover. Even his burial place seems uncertain.
I tell this story to demonstrate how a painting develops a history and patina of its own over time. When I created this image I had no idea that I was painting a spot familiar to my future husband’s father who would have recognised this building even though the area has been altered by subsequent bombing and reconstruction.
I recall that when I was painting the renamed Bartlett Park I was very influenced by the work of Algernon Newton (1880-1968) and attempted to capture some of that stillness and serenity that his paintings have. Hs obituary declares him a ‘painter of quiet distinction’. Although he has become more respected and acknowledged as an artist, to my mind, he is still under-rated and deserves an exhibition at a major public art gallery. In today’s bustling, noisy world where sound appears to dominate every aspect of life there is a need and a place for the contemplation of Newton’s peaceful elegiac scenes, not idyllic by any means but anchored.
The Tate Gallery owns two of his paintings but he has only participated in one mixed exhibition, ‘Looking at the View’ in 2012. An obituary in The Times summed him up as a ‘Painter of quiet distinction’, which I concur with wholeheartedly. This chimes well with people likes of Father Bartlett who is now almost forgotten, remembered by only a few, but obviously had an effect on many.
This painting will be on display from Thursday, 18th January, until Saturday 10th February 2018 at:
Abbott & Holder
30 Museum Street-opposite the British Museum-
London, WC1A 1LH