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  02/09/2018

Fried Chicken

In order to reflect on another aspect of urban culture we seem to take for granted or perhaps hardly notice, I am staying in the Silvertown and North Woolwich area of last weeks Little Cottage, moving across to the opposite side of the street and a short distance up the road. I am referring to the small shops, parades and broadways strung out along almost every street in London and the various subtle, incremental changes that take place to them over time.

 

Pubs, libraries and public conveniences may be on the decline these days but the crumbling parades of once elegant architecture still continue to exist among us, accommodating shops and small businesses on the ground floor and frequently, sad looking neglected flats above. Often, the windows are dressed with faded curtains and naked light bulbs shining out of the gloom or through into the darkness. As one small enterprise fails it can be quickly replaced by another, the next proprietor as enthusiastic as the last one during its initial stages, hopeful that their venture will provide just the opportunity they have been waiting for. The indomitable spirit of Londoners of whatever ethnicity lives on.

 

The parade of this painting, Fried Chicken, contains a trio of shops comprising enterprises that are a familiar sight all over the country in 2018, as is the accompanying street furniture and ubiquitous road works. Here we have two fast food restaurants and a nail bar. Nail bars are a 21st century phenomenon. I visited one in Wanstead recently and was entranced at the range of tones available for me to select from. They would put any artist’s palette to shame. Then we have Pier Masala, a reference presumably to the nearby Woolwich Car Ferry. Next door for the less adventurous is the Fried Chicken take-away. I remember with my boyfriend in the early seventies we used to hitch from London to our parents’ home in the Midlands. We would take the tube from Colliers Wood, exiting at Hendon then prior to the long trek north up the M1, we treated ourselves to Kentucky Fried Chicken and chips. Colonel Sanders has a lot to answer for!

 

If you look at the upstairs windows you may be able to make out the grey net curtains. Some effort has been made to up-date two of the facades… double glazing and rendering, but it’s hard to escape a feeling of transience, this seems perhaps to be a thoroughfare reliant on passing trade rather than the hub of a community. A lamppost leans at a drunken angle, evidence perhaps of the effects of a late night out and someone in a hurry to catch the last car ferry across the river. No street scene in London would be complete without the bollards, pedestrian barriers and road works. And let’s not forget the temporary traffic lights seemingly put in place to frustrate drivers.

 

I first saw this corner on a bright, sunny day in Autumn, but I decided to return just before sunset where I hoped to glimpse the neon lights and perhaps a naked electric light bulb or two but I was even more lucky, being presented with a wonderful sky full of greys and pinks that complemented the plastered walls of buildings, emphasising the colours of the road.

 

Of course, if this were a more affluent area or... 'on the up' as we say, the parade would contain a gathering of estate/lettings agencies, vaping shops, or even coffee houses catering for youngish hipster couples with prams or laptops, a recent development on my home patch recently.