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  08/12/2019

Five Star Batteries

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The A13 leading to Southend from East London can be a drab, neglected highway to drive along but as dusk trails into night, it has an elegiac grandeur especially as one peers through the darkness to catch the lights of the Hollywood Bowl or Frankie’s Diner at Beckton and the Ship & Shovel pub in Dagenham. One can just make out the tall stacks that dominate the once omnipresent, powerful Ford Motor works. However during the day this highway has a sad post-industrial feel of faded glory days awaiting change, as did the London docks during the early 80s.

 

I used to wander around the Isle of Dogs over thirty years ago, aware that it was on the verge of transition which was inevitable and probably necessary, but also sensing that something irrevocable would be lost in the process. I get the same feeling today on this stretch of highway.

 

I have been travelling this road for over a decade now on my way from Forest Gate to Hornchurch, in order to visit Steve’s mum. It was only when I returned to painting again six years ago that I could see the rich visual imagery available here and that it should be translated into paint. The depiction of certain individual characteristics can tell the life story of a building or a place; for instance, when I passed by this spot a few weeks ago I noticed that the signage had been updated while I had been painting this and for me the appeal had greatly diminished.

 

Five Star Batteries lies on a stretch of road that was once the main arterial A13 but it has been surpassed by a raised dual carriageway to accommodate the inevitable increase of flowing traffic. The old A13 at this point has been re-baptised the A1306 and as a result it now seems to reside in despondency and along the way the wreck of The Cosy Tea Room awaits its fate, a painting I published last year and which I have already written about.

 

What appealed to me about the 5 Star site was the dissonance of colour, the bright orange on a road where the only colour emanates from signage advertising on car washes, repairs and cheap tyre outlets. I am always drawn to this imbalance in the landscape when I have to accommodate it and resolve it in the composition. The style of the décor would have appeared full of optimism once and I think that it would be this that links the image to my East End work. In the background you can just pick out that an attempt might have been made to cheer up the man-made infrastructure with some pavement landscaping of trees and sad looking grass. 

 

The lone man at the bus stop seems marooned and uneasy waiting in what appears to be no man’s land, for a bus that might be a long time coming.