“Dirty old river” is an ongoing study of the tension between civilisation and the water it’s built upon, beneath and around. I don’t see a particular end to this project; it feels like a zooming-in of my wider interest in the shape and colour of our cities. the river – particularly London’s Thames – is a source and signifier of wealth and poverty, a place of production and pollution, and the way man forces the water to bend to his will continues to intrigue. A key inspiration for this project was the work of Richard Misrach, whose unsettling Louisiana photographs informed the look of the TV series True Detective (available in a very beautiful hardback book, Petrochemical America, written with Kate Orff.)
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A series of paintings and drawings scaling the heights of London and exploring its silhouettes from different angles – from the girders that crown Frank’s Bar in Peckham Rye to the gleaming financial heartland of the City of London. I was interested less in the actual shapes of the buildings than in the way light writes a story on their surfaces, and on how after dark the narrative is so different to that which we see by day. Heron Tower (now, dismally, the Salesforce Tower) appears three times in this series (once as a sneaky footnote in another painting); different from all angles and more subtle than its novelty neighbours, I regard it as one of the most intriguing buildings to claim a foothold on the city surface in years.
To the trains
Two soft pastel paintings that were the culmination of a year of research, photography, rifling through old maps and tramping the underground terrain of London. I was given access to the abandoned platforms at Holborn station to make studies for these paintings. Once upon a time, Piccadilly Line trains rumbled back and forth between Holborn and Aldwych. Now the platforms remain intact, arrested in time with ads from the 1990s and the paint peeling from the walls. i revisited london underground in more recent projects.