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  22/12/2019

The Red Temple

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This work is titled ‘The Red Temple’, partly because the red brick is not such a common sight in this part of East London; in the Midlands soot blackened red brick Methodist churches are everywhere and the dourness of them can strike a chill in the heart. Despite my title, the building depicted here is no longer a religious edifice. An adjunct to the parish church of St. Matthews, it was created as a Parish Hall in 1904 but I am not sure how long it lasted in this capacity. It seems to have adapted well to the changes in the area being utilised as a warehouse, an art gallery and more recently, as a music distribution company, which is its latest re-incarnation.

 

The building is situated in Hereford Road, Bethnal Green and was attached to St. Matthew Parish Church just around the corner. The church itself was originally designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor but never realized; eventually a church was built in 1746 according to a design created by architect George Dance. Compared to the annexe, the church is a more formally imposing and austere monument. Its appearance though belies its history as Joseph Merceron (1764-1839), immortalised by Julian Woodford in the ‘Boss of Bethnal Green’, was a churchwarden at St Matthews and he was imprisoned for running a protection racket and then appropriating nearly £1000 of church funds. Despite this, on his release, he was re-instated as Senior Curate! In our time, it was the church favoured by the Kray family who lived nearby in Vallance Road.

 

The building I have painted is very different. It opens up directly onto the pavement and street unlike the church, situated in grounds that presumably served as a former graveyard. For me the annexe feels very connected to the community surrounding it.

 

I chose a simple full frontal composition and thought it would be a straight forward painting to execute, however two years later I am still struggling to find resolution! The simplicity of the layout is deceptive and I have found it difficult to weight the various elements of the composition. The juxtaposition of red brick and pale blue paintwork against the foliage and sky is a very temperamental blend to handle and what works for the naked eye in reality can become very difficult to translate on a two dimensional surface. I have found that rather than bold decisions this painting has needed coaxing along.