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  22/07/2018

St George's in the East

It was a month ago to my amazement that I rediscovered this painting, St. George’s in the East, sitting in a store cupboard containing a number of works of the artist, Gerald Marks, about whom I wrote about recently on the occasion of his death. I had been clearing his belongings and possessions from the flat in which he lived for 70 years, in Bayswater. Over two hundred of his paintings were stored throughout the flat, some as large as 7’x 8’. The painter Alice West, who had rented a room to Gerald in the late 1940s, occupied the property previously (a work of hers hangs in The Grapes in Narrow Street). Residents in other flats inform me that the actor Stanley Holloway had taken the house for a short period in the 1930s.

 

I executed the painting, St. George’s in the East, Shadwell, twenty-eight years ago, however, I thought it had been lost as I had absolutely no recollection of its whereabouts. Its ensuing discovery raised possibilities in our minds for the young England team playing in Russia, especially when Steve pointed out that my work had been painted in the same year an England side last reached the semi-final of the World Cup… and as the title and subject might imply, seemed a positive omen for England’s fortunes. Alas, this turned out to be wishful thinking.

 

I think I may have collected the painting from an exhibition in West London sometime in the mid-nineties, dropping it off for safekeeping at Gerald’s flat close by and then I had completely forgotten about it. And so, just as excitement about the recent World Cup was building, it was rediscovered at the back of a cupboard where it had probably sat gathering dust for decades. I am delighted to show it here now for the first time, although I had hoped to make a connection between St George’s in the East and the World Cup final! I hope to give the painting it’s first public airing in twenty-five years at my retrospective at the Nunnery early next year.

 

The subject was chosen because in the late eighties a series of exhibitions by local artists were being held at St George’s of which I was included. I recall walking up to the entrance one sunny evening and being struck by the stern, monumentality of the architecture that lent an uncompromising quality to the facade. Of the six Hawksmoor churches in the area, I only painted St. George’s and St. Anne’s, as I am not normally attracted by ‘monuments’, and this was because I felt these buildings seemed to be woven into the lives of Eastenders even if most never enter inside them.