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  14/10/2018

Salmon Lane in the Rain

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It seemed to rain a lot in the eighties. I used to go to Salmon Lane most days as there was a range of shops, including a Post Office; baker’s; off licence, butcher’s shop; greengrocers’; dry cleaners; laundrette; market stall selling fruit and veg; pub and two Chinese restaurants, one of which was world famous. ‘The Good Friends’ that opened in 1962. This often had Rolls Royce’s parked outside. I am told Sean Connery, Barbara Streisand and Groucho Marx went there. The other Chinese, run by the same family- the Cheung’s, was a take-away and can be seen in the painting. The food from Local Friends Takaway (in the painting) was excellent. I was

not tempted to go to the restaurant; not only was it expensive, the interior was too functional and austere for my taste. Today, only the Post Office, dry cleaners, laundrette and the off licence remain. The Local Friends, last time I passed by, was selling devices for mobile phones and unlocking or repairing them.

 

It seemed to rain a lot in the eighties. I used to go to Salmon Lane most days as there was a range of shops, including a Post Office; baker’s; off licence, butcher’s shop; greengrocers’; dry cleaners; laundrette; market stall selling fruit and veg; pub and two Chinese restaurants, one of which was world famous. ‘The Good Friends’ that opened in 1962. This often had Rolls Royce’s parked outside. I am told Sean Connery, Barbara Streisand and Groucho Marx went there. The other Chinese, run by the same family- the Cheung’s, was a take-away and can be seen in the painting. The food from Local Friends Takaway (in the painting) was excellent. I was not tempted to go to the restaurant; not only was it expensive, the interior was too functional and austere for my taste. Today, only the Post Office, dry cleaners, laundrette and the off licence remain. The Local Friends, last time I passed by, was selling devices for mobile phones and unlocking or repairing them.

 

I conceived the painting by being attracted to the street lamps and their glow diffused by the damp, rain wet surfaces. I began with the notion of a modern day Atkinson Grimshaw when I started the painting. In my twenties I loved his work for its ability to evoke sensations and smells. The Freemasons Arms was not one of the pubs I attended frequently but I visited it occasionally with a friend. It was rather gloomy inside, sparsely lit and almost empty even though it was 9pm on Saturday evening. As we huddled in a corner we would ponder how much longer the establishment would remain open given the lack of custom but it was over a decade before the pub finally closed. It’s location has been built on with a block of flats clad in wood, attractive enough but oddly out of keeping with the austerity of the Victorian primary school just behind.

 

When I painted the bill board advertising, ‘Take a break, Take a Kit-Kat’, I was attempting to inject some wit into what might have been an otherwise dour scene. I had no idea that the lifespan of these pasted advertisements, so interesting as they peeled and weathered and adding more grit to the urban scene would be vanishing today as backlit illuminated advertising becomes more common. I recall with affection the men in white overalls carrying ladders, buckets of paste and long rolls, who were a common sight mid-morning, as are the now vanished posters glamourising the pleasures of smoking.

 

From the entire composition only the block of flats remain instantly recognisable today, and also the railway arches. However, as the gentle author has pointed out recently, even these are under threat being sold off by the rail authority to private landlords who quite often install bland looking shuttered, lock-up storage spaces ironically used for the overspill objects from those minimalist new apartments.