|Ed Gray Art||
The City of London from Searcys Club at the Gherkin ‘Looking South’ (2012)
Acrylic paint, pencil, pen, glitter on paper 230cmx210cm
I start to draw the cityscape before me from the viewing corridor in Searcys Club at the Gherkin. I’m here thanks to the art collector Allan Norton and I’m the guest of Searcys themselves. I know I have a limited time here. I imagine the drawing will be a row of nine A3 pages from my sketchbook. Three days later I have 36 pages. Each night I go home drained and confused by the chaos of the city streets and rooftops. I tape together the drawings I’ve made and return each day to work on them further. Back in my studio I’m faced with a 230cm x180 cm drawing. I ignore the confusing photos I’ve taken to help me and I begin to paint over my sketches.
The River Thames is the reason why London and Londoners are here. I paint the river with glitter and gold paint. I paint the new Shard that rises violently into the sky as if giving the finger to the dominance of the old City of London. I marvel at the way the clouds play in its surface and seem to camouflage it some days. I paint it with glitter where the morning light hits it. The shape of the Shard resembles the Hawksmoor church spire in Spitalfields but it’s not God that’s being revered here in this city- it’s money.
This painting is about the financial industry and power of London as a centre of trade, initially through the River Thames and now latterly through the financial services in the City. I also want to contrast the river with the city that it helped to form. The city has been shaped by cycles of renewal and decay. Ancient monarchs and emperors, politicians, industrialists, developers, planners, social engineers, Luftwaffe pilots, visionary architects and madmen architects have created the fascinating jumble of visual statements that is London. This hotchpotch is added to on a daily basis with greater proficiency by the cranes that scatter the skyline of the city. Through all this chaos the river runs on, fast flowing, dark and murky and with unknowable currents that dredge up the debris of past lives to deposit them on the shore at low tide, reminding us that despite all our grandiose schemes and all our efforts to the contrary, we’re here for just a short time
‘Industrial landscape’ LS Lowry (1935)
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