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 09/12/2018
Hot Dogs. Mile End Park
I was attracted to draw the Hot Dog Stall because to me it symbolised the celebration of outdoor eating ‘on the hoof’ that would take place while wandering around dropping money into the bottomless pit of amusement at Mile End Fun Fair. For a moment or two in our working lives were elevated by the eager expectation of something big about to happen, afterwards we would return home with the feelings of inevitable deflation and disappointment, Peggy Lee’s lyrics ringing in our ears… ‘Is that all there is, is that all there is?’.
The presence of not one but two sellers in their cheerfully striped aprons, nod toward some hope or anticipation, hair neatly tied back conforming to Health & Safety regulations. The decoration and the colour range often beguiled me. I found them perfect, entirely in keeping with the spirit of the occasion, edged by that faint tinge of melancholy present in many a transient experience.
This Fun Fair always came to Mile End Park at Easter, Whitsun and August Bank Holiday. I never went on any of the rides but was tempted to play the fruit machines. I also loved a game of pinball and became very good at it for a while.
As a child, a hotdog from one of these stands was a treat my dad would indulge me with, smothered in ketchup on a white roll and over-cooked onions, my mum looking on with tight-lipped disapproval. The obsession with food hygiene and healthy eating, as demonstrated prematurely by her in the fifties, has all but put an end to fast food street sellers that were such a welcome sight on the streets of London in the seventies and early eighties. Even if one were a vegetarian they added to the rich mix of visual and olfactory street culture, as did the roast chestnut sellers that can still be seen occasionally at this time of year. When I see one I always think of my grandad who in his seventies worked as a watchman, all night sitting round a brazier, so that he could continue to afford Woodbines and pints of Tetley ale.
These days, odours emanating from the more recent arrival of sickly peanut goo stalls in central London attract my attention, tainting the air with their sweet smell of sugar, chocolate and evaporated milk, a snack I can only sniff but one I will never indulge myself in. Since my brush with throat cancer in 2007 I have been unable to swallow food or drink, taking all my nutrition intravenously using a pump through the night. I imagine my mother if she were alive today would greatly approve of my healthy medicated diet… although she would still disapprove of the occasional slug of red wine that will find its way through my syringe from time to time!
Curious about the disappearance of many fast-food stalls, I investigated some more on the internet. I vaguely remembered legislation being introduced during the nineties that reformed (or banned some might say) unlicensed trading. I uncovered a sub-culture of 'on the fly' traders; vans will drop off temporary fast food carts at various prearranged sites in central London so unlicensed vendors can sell it on the street. However even the vendors appear to have little idea where the carts come from or where they are stored over night!
I have now started a stall of my own! If you click on the new section above 'Editioned Prints' you will be able to find 2 limited editioned Giclee Prints that are for sale.