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Doreen Fletcher’s Exhibition

June 4, 2016
by the gentle author

Just over six months ago, I introduced you to Doreen Fletcher’s paintings in these pages and I am thrilled to announce that – thanks to the extraordinary positive response by you, the readers of Spitalfields Life – Doreen’s first solo exhibition of these works opens next Friday 10th June at Townhouse, 5 Fournier St, Spitalfields, and runs until 26th June.

Hairdresser, Ben Jonson Rd, 2001

It is my pleasure to publish this selection of the remarkable paintings and drawings created by Doreen Fletcher in the East End between 1983 and 2003.

“I was discouraged by the lack of interest,” admitted Doreen to me plainly, explaining why she gave up after twenty years of doing this work. For the past decade, all these pictures have sat in Doreen’s attic until I persuaded her to take them out and let me photograph them for publication here.

Doreen came to the East End in 1983 from West London. “My marriage broke up and I met someone new who lived in Clemence St, E14,” she revealed, “it was like another world in those days.” Yet Doreen immediately warmed to her new home and felt inspired to paint. “I loved the light, it seemed so sharp and clear in the East End, and it reminded me of the working class streets in the Midlands where I grew up,” she confided to me, “It disturbed me to see these shops and pubs closing and being boarded up, so I thought, ‘I must make a record of this,’ and it gave me a purpose.”

For twenty years, Doreen conscientiously sent off transparencies of her pictures to galleries, magazines and competitions, only to receive universal rejection. As a consequence, she forsook her artwork entirely in 2003 and took a managerial job, and did no painting for the next ten years. But eventually, Doreen had enough of this too and has recently rediscovered her exceptional forgotten talent.

Many of Doreen’s pictures exist as the only record of places that have long gone and I publish her work in the hope that she will receive the recognition she deserves, not just for outstanding quality of her painting but also for her brave perseverance in pursuing her clear-eyed vision of the East End in spite of the lack of any interest or support.

Bartlett Park, 1990

Terminus Restaurant, 1984

Bus Stop, Mile End, 1983

Terrace in Commercial Rd under snow, 2003

Shops in Commercial Rd, 2003

Snow in Mile End Park, 1986

Laundrette, Ben Jonson Rd, 2001

The Lino Shop, 2001

Caird & Rayner Building, Commercial Rd, 2001

Rene’s Cafe, 1986

SS Robin, 1996

Benji’s Mile End, 1992

Railway Bridge, 1990

St Matthias Church, 1990

The Albion Pub, 1992

Turner’s Rd, 1998

The Condemned House, 1983

Leslie’s Grocer, Turner’s Rd, 1983 (Pencil Drawing)

Newsagents, Canning Town, 1991 (Coloured Crayon Drawing)

Bridge Wharf, 1984 (Pencil Drawing)

Pubali Cafe, Commercial Rd, 1990 (Coloured Crayon Drawing)

Ice Cream Van, 1990 (Coloured Crayon Drawing)

Turner’s Rd, E3

Palaseum Cinema, Commercial Rd

Salmon Lane in the Rain, 1987

Mile End Park, 1987

Wintry Park, 1987

Limehouse Churchyard, 1987

Stepney Snooker Club, 1987

Stepney Snooker Club, Evening, 1987

Commercial Rd, 1989

Railway Arch, Bow

Images copyright © Doreen Fletcher

You may also like to take a look at

The East London Group

Noel Gibson, Artist

John Allin, Artist

Alfred Daniels, Artist

Dan Jones, Painter

Nicholas Borden, Artist

Marc Gooderham, Artist

33 Responses leave one →
  1. June 4, 2016

    Good to see that Doreen’s wonderful work is being honoured at last. Good luck with the exhibition, and hope it will be the begin of the success this very talented lady deserves. Valerie

  2. Lynn Roffee permalink
    June 4, 2016

    Thank you GA for bringing Dorothy Fletcher’s work to our attention, and I’m delighted to hear that Dorothy has her solo exhibition planned despite the negativity she encountered.

    What a wonderful talent Dorothy has. The detail and care taken brings those paintings and drawings alive, and captures a moment in time; sadly now lost to the continuing development of the area.

    This is a long overdue positive outcome for Dorothy – a case of never giving up or stop dreaming!!

    Will be booking travel arrangements today to visit the exhibition.

  3. June 4, 2016

    Poignant, moving, meticulous, contemplative and atmospheric is her body of work.

    The works possess the particularity of a true and deep observer and of what it feels like to be human in that very moment – at that very place – in all of the confluence of time.

    Congratulations to Doreen – and to the Gentle Author – who led Doreen to reveal her heart’s treasured rumination on the East End both here and in the upcoming gallery exhibition.

  4. Sue Harding permalink
    June 4, 2016

    Can’t wait to see these. It would be great to know what Doreen is doing now. Is she still documenting London? I am a keen urban sketcher and carry pen and sketchbook everywhere and put my sketches on social media which is huge fun.

  5. Uncle Ju permalink
    June 4, 2016

    What beautiful artwork. So evocative and almost photographic in their quality.

  6. Robert permalink
    June 4, 2016

    I’m pleased that Doreen is getting recognition for her keen eyed observation on east end life. It’s a historical record of everyday life that is now largely gone. I’m pencilling in a visit to see this. Thanks.

  7. June 4, 2016

    A true heir to the East End group. I wish Doreen every success.

  8. June 4, 2016

    Oh I’m so glad to hear that, will definitely come along.
    Very well done all xx

  9. Hugh Macfarlane permalink
    June 4, 2016

    These are wonderful, such detail, I hope the exhibition is a success. Hugh

  10. June 4, 2016

    I do like Doreen’s paintings and is worthy of inclusion on these pages. Her building perspective is exceedingly good. The ‘Shops in Commercial Road’ painting has hints of Lowry’s matchstick men style. To sum up; This is nice for you to have a solo exhibition ‘Lost Time’ so enjoy the moment Doreen. PS You do have beautiful colour palette when its needed. Also another good piece by GA with all the trimmings. John

  11. June 4, 2016

    What an impressive body of work from a very talented artist. Doreen is especially good at capturing the prevailing quality of light and I look forward to visiting the exhibition. Very glad that Doreen’s work is receiving the recognition it richly deserves.

    David Cantor

  12. Jane Roberts permalink
    June 4, 2016

    What an amazing hidden treasure, so glad they will now be seen by the public.

  13. Sueb permalink
    June 4, 2016

    I can’t believe these are not photographs, what talent has been hidden away for years.
    Good luck with the exhibition, sadly I live too far away to attend.

  14. June 4, 2016

    Absolutely fascinating. I do wish I could see the real pictures!

  15. Delia Folkard permalink
    June 4, 2016

    I daren’t think what might
    have happened to Doreen’s work if you hadn’t encouraged her to clear out her attic. I will certainly be making a trip to see her work and also take the opportunity to visit other parts of the area mentioned in your blogs. We had a lovely day out in Southend to see the wonderful paintings of the East End Group at the Beecroft Gallery – followed by fish and chips and a train ride on the pier!

  16. Linda Granfield permalink
    June 4, 2016

    Hooray for Doreen, the GA, and all those who reacted so positively when these wonderful paintings were first revealed to us in this blog.

    Wish I could attend the exhibition and congratulate the artist in person. These words of thanks for her talent will have to suffice.

    Enjoy your event, Doreen!

  17. Alicia Stolliday permalink
    June 4, 2016

    I love Doreen’s work, both for the locations and her considerable skill and talent. It reminds me of the colours and light of Eric Ravilious. My ancestors lived in Turner’s Road. Is there any chance that prints might be produced?

  18. Nick Franklin permalink
    June 4, 2016

    Wow what else can one say,they are fantastic I wish I could do a 10th as well. (I have difficulty drawing breath).
    Why no one wanted them before is behond my comprehension.
    I’d like to congratulate you both Doreen for the wonderfuly life like pictures and you for getting her to share them with us.
    I wish I lived closer so I could come and shake her hand.

  19. Alwyn Egginton permalink
    June 4, 2016

    Congratulations and thank you Gentle Author for finding this treasure of an artist and congratulations to Ms Fletcher for possessing such a wealth of talent. A well developed eye for composition, light, atmosphere and character of place all add up to a sincere painter worthy of wide recognition. Lovely!

  20. June Lapidow permalink
    June 4, 2016

    Are Doreen’s painting going to be for sale at the exhibit?

  21. the gentle author permalink*
    June 4, 2016

    Yes, some are for sale.

  22. June 4, 2016

    A marvelous and inspired account of the East End. Looking forward to the exhibition.

  23. pauline taylor permalink
    June 4, 2016

    These are a fantastic record of the East End by a very talented artist, and I wish Doreen great success with the exhibition. I think we know why she has had her work rejected in the past don’t we; they are good, and talented artists are rejected now by those who are the sort who would admire the Emperor’s new clothes.

  24. Marjorie permalink
    June 4, 2016

    Have a great exhibition, your paintings are amazing, wish we were able to be there, unfortunately Scotland is too far away for us. X

  25. Richard permalink
    June 4, 2016

    Here’s an intriguing happenstance, an odd instance of a single object becoming two separate works of art. The painting “ Condemned House” shown above, depicts the very building that became the art object known as “House”. For those unfamiliar with the latter I direct you to it’s Wikpedia page – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_(sculpture) – but in a nutshell, the artist Rachel Whiteread applied concrete to the interior of the abandoned house and then demolished the walls resulting in a cast of the building now standing “inside out”. In this way the subject of the 1983 painting became a sculpture of sorts ten years later. The concrete block – not much loved by the local populace – won Whiteread that year’s Turner prize but was demolished soon thereafter – an act widely regarded now as an example of anti-modernist philistinism.

  26. June 4, 2016

    Doreen Fletcher’s paintings have found another admirer all the way in North Carolina, USA. She is fortunate to have had you feature her work leading to this exhibit. In my imagination, I will arrive, walking slowly past each of the paintings while thinking of the stories they represent, the places that are now gone. This architectural inventory has preserved a time and a sense of place. Fabulous. Thank you.

  27. Sue permalink
    June 4, 2016

    Wish I were nearer to see the exhibition. Hope it is the success it deserves to be.

  28. June 5, 2016

    It’s a great pleasure to see Doreen’s marvellous work again; I know many of her locations from my explorations with the camera. Looking forward to the exhibition – it will be a knockout.

  29. Phyllis permalink
    June 5, 2016

    Fantastic – I hope every work for sale finds a new owner!

  30. June 5, 2016

    very nice. i especially like snow in mile end park, rene’s cafe, and mile end park 1987.
    :-)

  31. martin permalink
    June 6, 2016

    With realist paintings like these the question i always ask myself is, “is it better that the real thing?, does it add something more than the real thing?” …well the answer is undoubtedly YES!

  32. Debenie Morse permalink
    June 8, 2016

    But these are lovely!

  33. Philip Marriage permalink
    June 14, 2016

    These are simply lovely.

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