British Library

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Watercolour and Acrylic Ink

h: 76 w: 56 (cms).

When looking at this British Library gates painting, the first thing you notice are the words British Library repeated in a rising stack. Each layer upwards the font becomes more delicate and light. It’s as if the lower levels need to be reinforced to hold the weight of those further up. This ironwork creation marks the entrance to the British Library and continues onto the doors which open inwards. Held in place either side by a simple rectangular grating.

What could be a more appropriate symbol for the library can there be but a stack of words? Like a stack of books. Eloquent and simple. The clarity of the words increases as your eyes scans up. The density of the black increases as you go down.

The image feels slightly crooked. The reference photo was taken when passing on a rainy October day. I chose not to straighten it. It helps capture the spontaneity of the image and adds to the sense of looming in the structure.

The dark entrance looks through to a terracotta pathway framed with gold. Once you go beyond the English words, it feels like the entrance to an oriental temple. The text leaves you in no doubt of where you are. Framed by the gates with its Iron grid of letters. Centre stage, a giant figure bends double, intent on this “work”. He holds a pair of compasses or dividers with the skill and delicacy of practised hands. His task, whatever it is, demands his full attention. He’s oblivious to our presence.

Around the gates, brickwork competes for attention. In some parts so clear , you can count them, and in others they merge into an organic mass of rust and clay hues. The odd shape lifts the colour to contrast with the darkness.

What is the font?

British Library? It should be. A repository of knowledge as vast as the British Library really should have it’s own font. A nice serif font with gravitas. It ticks the boxes, surely they wouldn’t use Times New Roman?

£1290
£1150 (Unframed)

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Charing Cross Station

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Watercolour and Acrylic Ink

h: 76 w: 56 (cms).

A Bright Red Underground sign perches on top of a shiny pole. Standing like a lollipop, it virtually splits the painting down the middle. You see it towering overhead, as you look up from the underground entrance. Silver railings on the right break up your view of the street. The back of the Amba Hotel in Charing Cross, obvious from the ornate walkway that bridges the gap between the buildings on the third floor. They didn’t spare the detail on this one. Ornate to a point of vulgarity perhaps? Whatever your taste, the Amba Hotel‘s a building that’s hard to ignore. Although I wonder?

Have you noticed that people walk around cities in a trance? They spend years on the same commute and that makes them move automatically. Apart from the need to check for traffic, your average commuter misses most things, unless their attention is drawn to it by an unusual event.

The lollipop underground sign is framed by the buildings against a deep cerulean sky. Colours have bled from the walls and other details. Tinges of pink, brown and ochre struggle for attention, but that blue dominates. A few people mingle in the street, merging into the buildings. You hardly notice the blond girl or the youth with a back pack Look closely at the image, the structure on the right is drawn in such detail that there remains little of the colour. Contrast it with the walls above the Five guys building. The windows are defined but the walls are streaks of colour. Brickwork, a mere suggestion, but you see bricks. Reflections on stainless steel of the railings and the windows of the walkways show the outside world but there’s no hint at what lies behind the glass. In some cases the windows show darkness, the darkness of a private world. A world on which we can but speculate. What’s hidden in the shadows?

Charing Cross Underground station has a number of exits, but look up next time you’re there and this scene might just greet you.

£1290
£1150 (Unframed)

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Check Mate

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Watercolour and Acrylic Ink

h: 41 w: 50 (cms).

Contrasts feature heavily in my paintings and never more so than in Checkmate. The two tall elegant structures on opposite sides of the Thames, reminded me of chess pieces on a board. Two Kings, in a game of wits.

The dark organic form of the lamppost base. We don’t even see the whole of this lamppost due to its proximity. Two fish-like creatures entwine each other, and the pole. Their faces looking down the river. Scales cover their bodies in a textured mass of detail. Above them the decorations cover the pole. Flowers and ridges and the plinth below has more layers and more detail.

Deep dark colours, from black to blues and browns, hide much of the shaping. White lines, the only relief, picking out the shapes and details, so we can see what it is. The lamppost dominates in a menacing way. The eyes of the fish watch you. Mouth open, gasping for air. It looks angry, it wants to leap back into the Thames, and swim away. It’s alive!

The Shard, by contrast, is light and distant, both physically and metaphorically. It is lifeless. Smooth in texture. Shiny and reflecting the light, and buildings around it. Inspired by geometry. A simple linear profile, next to the undulating outline of a fishpole. The shard reflects light, whereas the other steals it. Iridescent inks bestow a luxurious texture, next to the murky browns and blacks of the sea creatures.

Even the skies around them contrast with each other. The colours flow bleeding from the lamppost, and the sharp is surrounded by speckles like stars in a night sky. The River Thames keeps them apart. London Bridge, the only visible means of crossing. Its low arches and smooth sides catching the low sun in the sky. Below the bridge is more darkness. The river is a barely visible strip of blue, grey and brown, between the dark underside of the arches and the purple top of the embankment wall.

The Shard is surrounded by buildings, more chess pieces protecting their king from capture. The dark King feels isolated, vulnerable, exposed and abandoned. Is that because he is? Or are his players still nearby? Whatever it may be, he looks ready for a fight.

£577
£477 (Unframed)

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Harlequin Gherkin

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Watercolour and Acrylic Ink

h: 76 w: 56 (cms).

The Gherkin looms tall over the square. Brilliant colours as bright as jewels sparkle in the diamond panes of glass. Set against a bright blue sky. Outshone by its neighbours, an adjacent building is dwarfed. Reflecting the famous image back in muted tones. As if to say, “Nothing to see here!”

 

The angle of composition gives 30 St Mary's Ax a jaunty tilt with colours suggestive a court jester or Harlequin character in a theatrical performance.

£1290
£1150 (Unframed)

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