Henry Silk’s East End Still Lifes
Today I am delighted to preview the forthcoming exhibition of Henry Silk’s East End Still Lifes at Abbott & Holder in Museum St, WC1, opening Thursday 17th November. These lucid paintings recall Magritte and Braque, yet they also possess a modest tenderness that is unique to Henry Silk.
In 1930, basketmaker and artist Henry Silk sits alone in his sparsely furnished room in Rounton Rd in Bow surrounded by few personal possessions. He glances in the mirror and realises that he is no longer young. Yet the pair of medals from the Great War laid on the table remind him how lucky he is to be alive.
He wakes in the camp bed in the early morning and the empty green room is flooded with light as dawn rises over the rooftops of the East End and washing flaps on the line. Weaving baskets suits a contemplative nature and, when Henry returns from the kitchen with a cup of tea, he sits at the table with the pink cloth and studies the objects upon the surface in the morning sunlight.
The forms and colours of these familiar things fascinate him. His pipe, his purse and his pocket knife that he carried for years are as commonplace to him as his own hands. Each day, Henry paints a picture to catalogue his personal possessions, comprising the modest landscape of his existence. It is a whole life in a handful of paintings.
Henry Silk and his sister
Paintings reproduced courtesy Abbott & Holder
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