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 03/02/2018
Popcorn, Mile End Park
This week’s feature focuses on Mile End Park, which was very different in the 1980s to the up-beat, cheerful and trendy environment it has become today. Part of a re-generation scheme designed to create a swathe of green from Victoria Park to the river (See Feature 1 about ‘Condemned House’), back then it had a weak, spindly appearance, enlivened several times a year by the arrival of the funfair which contributed a bit of colour and ‘joie de vivre’ to the space.
I grew up in Newcastle-under-Lyme, a dormitory town of the Potteries, a much loved only child of working class parents in the back streets, where two-up & two-down terraces predominated. There was little colour. Mainly grey, browns and intermediate shades; lots of sparrows and pigeons. We had the odd dandelion and, if I leaned far enough from my bedroom window, I could see in the distance, Mow Cop, a hilly mound with a Victorian Folly on top. When it snowed the streets were transformed and also at dusk when the gas lamps were lit and the corner shops (every street had one) glowed in the dark. Children would play hop-scotch unfettered.
My parents thought Blackpool was 'common' so I am afraid I never got to see the illuminations- probably just as well. I might have become a fauve.
Every Sunday my parents would take me on a bus to the countryside to 'breathe in some fresh air'. Colour was the hedgerows and the fields and woods especially in Spring and Autumn. When I was 5 they bought me a set of encyclopaedias sold by a travelling salesman and for the first time (apart from The Hay Wain and Sun Flowers given away with Daz soap powder) I saw pictures of real art. I was entranced by the Fighting Temeraire, with its colour and light, and decided I wanted to be an artist. Then, at the age of six we went on holiday to Rhyl, which had a pleasure beach with colour everywhere, especially atmospheric and magical at dusk. Thus began my life long attraction to funfairs.
I have been drawn to them visually ever since. When I moved to Mile End in 1983 I was reminded of the hues I grew up with around the Potteries, but I was delighted to discover the funfair came regularly to nearby Mile End Park. It began just where the new football pitch and stadium are these days. I did quite a few coloured pencil drawings over the years. I have been trying to remember the name of the funfair, it might have been Maynard's, I'm not sure.
By the way I can’t stand the taste of popcorn