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 05/08/2018
Launderette, Ben Jonson Road
To my mind, Launderettes have never had the same image since the release of ‘My beautiful Launderette’ in 1985, a story of a love affair developing from the social interaction between people watching their washing spin round in a launderette situated in a run-down part of London. For a while Launderettes became almost trendy venues to be seen hanging around in.
Between 1983 and 1990 when a washing machine was purchased, I made the fortnightly trek to a Launderette in Salmon Lane. I never had time to sit down and watch for the cycle to run through and I would on some rare occasion, pay extra for the luxury of a service wash. This was usually when I had to visit my aging parents in Stoke. There were two ladies working in Salmon Lane who did a job share. One was much more meticulous in her folding techniques and I learned to go when she was on duty. I was intrigued by the social chit-chat between the clients that appeared to go on every time I dashed in and out. In those days the air was blue with the mix of cigarette smoke and steam from constantly opening and shutting of machines. It cannot have been good for the lungs. I remember Lil the good folder always had ‘a ciggie’ dangling from the corner of her mouth although I never found any ash in my clean clothes.
I thought about doing a piece of work on one of these institutions for some years and, as is usual in my case, it took a long time for the idea to be become reality and it was not until 2003 that I got a around to making a painting. By this time the launderette in Salmon Lane had had a face-lift and seems to have lost its character; the ladies had retired and the smoke-filled atmosphere had evaporated to be replaced by ‘No Smoking’ signs in bright red. Then, on one of my weekly Sunday morning forays to Ben Jonson Road to buys rolls from Wall’s bakery, I spied a couple of legs sticking out from the rather run-down launderette situated in the thirties parade of shops. Great, I thought. I had my subject at last!
My intention was to capture the scene rather like entering a doctor’s surgery or a railway waiting room. The décor of these service stations seem to have their origins in mid-fifties ‘Americana’ summed up by Diners, Greyhound Buses and DA haircuts. The traditional forward slant of silver signage against a marine blue background is typical and can been seen, even today. I must say that I do find this style visually appealing and feel that it has stood the test of time.
For myself, the image is painted from the viewpoint of an outsider looking in at a world in which one doesn’t completely belong but where some interesting social interaction could be taking place. By the way… the legs are not mine.