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 29/04/2018
Your No Banksey!
On one unusually warm, April evening last week I took up an invitation to visit the lovely house of someone who acquired a painting from last year's show ‘In Between, Almost Gone’ at the Townhouse. The purchasers’ home is situated just off the Kings Road, Chelsea and walking down from Sloane Square towards the Worlds End Pub, I dwelt on some of the changes this part of London has undergone of late, remembering the tawdry demi-monde atmosphere of shops such as Lucksy Dessous, managed by a friend, selling risqué underwear, and the Worlds End Pub built in 1897 as a gin palace, then a pub and now a fancy restaurant, echo of the transformation of pubs everywhere.
I was there at the invitation of owners, Jeremy & Harriett who had acquired my painting ‘Your no Banksey’, ostensibly to view the work in situ and maybe advise about framing possibilities. Another purpose was my intrigue concerning their reasons for wanting to have this painting; after all the Commercial Road and even the Worlds End part of the Kings Road seem light years apart! However, in this part of Chelsea there are more similarities than you might think.
Locally there is the egalitarian Mona Lisa restaurant which in part caters for the culinary needs of the inhabitants of the nearby brutalist style 60’s Council estate, and then opposite, on the other side of the road I am told that chandeliers are sold for £60.000 and chairs £6000. Around the corner, the glitterati eat at La Famiglia alongside locals who remember the now famous restaurant in more modest times. Is this to be the future of the Commercial Road- a divide between the estate side of Salmon Lane, the Lansbury estate and the riverside and that of Canary Wharf?
When responding to my curiosity about Jeremy's reasons in acquiring Banksey he says that he remembers fondly being driven down the Commercial Road past Salmon Lane and St. Anne’s as a child, sitting in the back of his parents’ car on the way to the family home in Burnham-on-Crouch. Desperate for relief from the fumes emanating from his father’s pipe and mother’s cigarettes, he pleaded for the windows to be wound down, a request vigorously denied, surely not because of the pollution caused by congestion on the Commercial Road! Needless to say, a life-long non-smoker, he still travels the same route to Burnham with his own family and he immediately recognised the red banner of the garage when he visited the show.
I wanted to capture the brilliant eye catching but damaged sign of ‘Docklands Tyres and Exhausts’ that provided a welcome flash of colour in this part of east London where even on a sunny June day 2016, there was little of cheer in the busy thoroughfare. Noisy pneumatic drills pounded, adding to the cacophony of sound, and I wondered briefly how many water and gas pipes there were left in East London to replace. Then my eye was caught by the curious spelling of the graffiti, ‘Your no Banksey’. Was it deliberate? Banksey was spelt incorrectly, yet it appeared the artist had spent some time over the lettering. Was s/he referring to the red Docklands banner of the garage? It seemed to me there was a story here.
Red is a notoriously difficult colour to handle as it dominates everything else in the picture. It draws the eye like a magnet but it was important to me that the ‘Your no Banksey’ graffiti was not engulfed by the sign. I hope I achieved this in the end.
A few weeks after I had completed the picture in 2017 a friend sent me a photograph of the garage, now boarded up and awaiting redevelopment like so many other local trades premises in the area (recorded just in time). Perhaps it will be making room for some of those exiles that have to decamp from the Kings Road for more affordable climes.