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The Triumph of Doreen Fletcher

October 11, 2018
by the gentle author

Cover of Doreen Fletcher’s monograph

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Regular readers will be aware of the magnificent paintings of Doreen Fletcher which were first shown in these pages in 2015. Doreen painted the East End from 1983 until 2004, when she gave up in discouragement due to lack of interest in her work. Since 2015 Doreen has begun painting again, had two shows at Townhouse Spitalfields, and one of her paintings was shown at the National Gallery last year when she was shortlisted for the first Evening Standard Contemporary Art Award.

I am overjoyed to announce that there will be a major retrospective of Doreen Fletcher’s paintings at the Nunnery Gallery, Bow Arts opening 25th January and running until 17th March.

Complementing the exhibition, Spitalfields Life Books are publishing a handsome hardback book of Doreen Fletcher’s paintings on November 15th, collecting more of her pictures than have ever been seen together before and showing the full breadth of her achievement as a painter for the very first time.

There are two ways you can support this.

1. We are seeking readers who are willing to invest £1000 to make Doreen Fletcher’s book happen. If you can help, please drop me a line at spitalfieldslife@gmail.com

2. Preorder copies for yourself and your friends using the link below and we will send them to you signed by Doreen Fletcher on publication in November.

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Click here to order a signed copy of DOREEN FLETCHER, PAINTINGS

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Portrait of Doreen Fletcher in her studio by Stuart Freedman

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One day in 2015, I received an email with a photograph of a painting by Doreen Fletcher attached at the end. It was quite an indistinct photo, just the size of a thumbnail, but I was immediately spellbound. It was a good painting. The picture had a rigorous structure, a mystery and an authority which drew my attention at once. It was quite unlike any painting I had seen.

I did not know anything about Doreen then, but I was fascinated to learn who she was. So I contrived a means to meet her. When I asked Doreen if she had any more paintings, she blushed and rolled her eyes, laughing. I discovered that Doreen had given up painting ten years earlier, discouraged by lack of interest in her work. Yet she told me she painted full-time for twenty years and when she stopped she had put all her paintings away in an attic.

Doreen let me persuade her to take her paintings down from the attic. It was obvious that these pictures comprised a significant body of work, of range, contrast and accomplishment. When I photographed these paintings and published them on Spitalfields Life, the response was immediate and positive. After decades of rejection, thanks to the democratising nature of the internet, Doreen discovered a passionate constituency who loved her work.

For artists, disappointment is a common experience. It is hard to accept that it is arbitrary whether your work coincides with the fashion of the day. So I hope Doreen’s example may prove an inspiration to others. It is not often that struggles are vindicated but I believe Doreen would confirm she has been vindicated beyond expectation.

In recent years Doreen’s atmospheric urban landscape paintings have reached a wide audience who appreciate her distinctive vision of the changing capital. She is getting the recognition she deserves, not just for the outstanding quality of her painting but also for her brave perseverance, pursuing her clear-eyed vision in spite of the lack of interest or support.

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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)

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17 Responses leave one →
  1. October 11, 2018

    I meant to say, I used to work with Doreen at tower Hamlets college. What wonderful news her triumph is! What a fantastic artist!

  2. October 11, 2018

    Glad to hear that Doreen is getting the acknowledgement she so much deserves! Good luck with the book, Valerie

  3. mlaiuppa permalink
    October 11, 2018

    Doreen was ahead of her time and thankfully time has caught up with her.

    Perhaps it is the increasing interest in “urban sketching.” Perhaps it is a different change, something that shifts from rural landscapes of happy sheep to urban architecture. Who knows?

    All I know is Doreen’s paintings are wonderful and I am so glad to read she is painting again.

  4. Di Corry permalink
    October 11, 2018

    A wonderful body of work depicting some fond and familiar sights for me.
    Doreen truly deserves this recognition and I look forward to visiting her exhibition.

  5. October 11, 2018

    Lovely paintings.

  6. Nicholas Borden permalink
    October 11, 2018

    Well done Doreen. I look forward to seeing these The paintings have a feel of that time.Particularly am drawn to the first painting of Bartlett road, the focal pointing of the composition is the white smoke coming out the the house.

  7. October 11, 2018

    So glad that this body of work is being published……especially under the banner of Spitalfields
    Life Books. Each and every one of these volumes has been amazing. I look forward to adding this
    book to my art library.
    Hurrah and huzzah, Doreen and GA.

  8. Helen Breen permalink
    October 11, 2018

    Greetings from Boston,

    GA, thanks for sharing Doreen’s inspiring story and her wonderful paintings. She captures so many interesting landscapes at different times of day and in all seasons.

    My favorites are: “Snow in Mile End Park,” 1986, “St Matthias Church,” 1990, and “Leslie’s Grocer, Turner’s Rd,” 1983 (Pencil Drawing)

  9. Laura Williamson permalink
    October 11, 2018

    What wonderful, evocative and accomplished work. She captures something important of the soul of London, in my opinion. I wish this very talented artist all the success she richly deserves

  10. October 11, 2018

    As someone who pursued a fine-art degree in photography, and who’s passion was shooting vernacular architecture, storefronts, and landscapes, I find these enchanting. And important. So many shop and small business have such fleeting life spans that they are gone before you know it, and their only record is a photograph or in these cases, paintings. Paintings like these are important on many levels–architectural landscapes being just the beginning. These are clean, uncluttered ‘less-is-more’ records of people’s lives and environments and should be treasured. A pleasure to see such an accomplished talent devote her considerable skill to things that, while important, most folks never give a second glance.

  11. David Morgan permalink
    October 11, 2018

    A lovely assortment of pictures – such vibrant colours and coloured crayon and pencil drawings too – what a talent to have gone unrecognised so long. Really glad that a well deserved retrospective of her work will take place. Best wishes for the future Doreen and please do keep painting !!

  12. Kristine permalink
    October 11, 2018

    What a treat it is to read another post about this artist and in turn, see examples of her work. She is talented for sure, but additionally, I really like her style. It’s always good to see talent recognized and acknowledged and I am glad this is the case for Doreen.

  13. kenneth peers permalink
    October 12, 2018

    Love Doreen’s work ,utterly beguiling,thanks for posting.

  14. Jill Wilson permalink
    October 12, 2018

    Yes – lovely atmospheric pictures, beautifully composed. Looking forward to seeing the book and the exhibition!

  15. October 13, 2018

    Fabulous paintings. Makes me feel very homesick!!

  16. Diane Doble Leemans permalink
    October 15, 2018

    What a valuable service for us now and posterity you have provided with your honed skills.

    Thank you exceedingly,

    Diane Doble Leemans

  17. Jean northern permalink
    October 15, 2018

    Fantastic art work

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