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  04/11/2018

Woodstock Terrace

When I was teaching at Tower Hamlets College in the nineties, I often used to walk to Chrisp Street market during my lunch break. I liked best taking the quiet road along Poplar High Street past St. Matthias Church and down Woodstock Terrace which had only just started to be ‘done up’. One particularly eccentric dwelling was gated and guarded by a forest of flowers and an army of gnomes. The front door was painted in an eye watering red, and had an owner who seemed to spend a lot of time sweeping her steps. She wore a headscarf tied around her head like a turban and always had a cigarette attached to the corner of her mouth. One day she disappeared

and I have no idea what happened.The house remained just as it was for several years getting dustier and more faded. Perhaps today, the front door is painted an elegant Farrow & Ball drainpipe grey.

 

To me the most interesting building in the Terrace was sandwiched between the end terraced house and the betting shop on the corner of Poplar High Street. It looked as though it might once have been a halt for travellers with horses, a stage post perhaps. In fact this building had been a stable and was now used as a haulage yard. The two-storey building to the left had fallen into disuse and the office for the haulage company was situated in a portakabin in the yard. I suppose you could say the business was still part of the same family- that of transport.

 

I completed a coloured pencil drawing of the building in 2002, attracted by the problems of depicting the variety of greens presented by the paintwork that appears to have been carried out piecemeal over the years, presumably in an attempt to preserve the wood. True to form, a little while later, there appeared a hoarding in front of the building and a notice stating ‘Dangerous Structure, Keep off’. Then posters appeared in nearby front windows heralding a campaign to save the ‘Stables’ as an historic part of English Heritage. In 2006 a demolition crew moved in and it was sad to see this characterful piece of Victorian architecture vanish into a pile of rubble.

 

English Heritage had no objections to the redevelopment providing there was nothing of archaeological interest on the site. The Victorian Society objected though, but they received little support in the local community. When the council sent letters out informing residents of the redevelopment only eight replies were received, plus a petition with 37 signatures. Perhaps the outcome was a foregone conclusion although I suspect the protestations would be louder and more vociferous today, as happened recently regarding the redevelopment of Chrisp Street Market nearby, where stallholders and local inhabitants have been protesting long and loud but still in vain. Coincidentally the developers of the Woodstock Terrace site in 2006 were Telford Homes PLC, the same company that has just been given permission to restructure Chrisp Street Market.