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Lucinda Rogers’ East End

November 10, 2010
by the gentle author

Even before I met her, I always admired this view looking West over Spitalfields by Lucinda Rogers that is framed on the wall of the Golden Heart in Commercial St. It is a large drawing executed in vigorous lines placed with superlative confidence, and filled with subtlety and fluent detail to reward the eye. The pale cloud on the horizon high above the City – illuminating the grey Northern light of a London sky – is a phenomenon that anyone in Spitalfields will recognise. What I especially like about this drawing is that there are so few lines, enough to summon the drawing into existence yet without any superfluous gesture. And although there is no pretence to photographic realism, the vivid spatial quality is such that when you gaze into the deep spaces of the composition it can feel almost vertiginous, especially if you have had a few drinks.

The next work of Lucinda’s to impinge upon my consciousness was her portrait of my friend Paul Gardner, the paper bag seller, which hangs up behind the counter in his shop in Commercial St, where his family have traded from the same building since it was built in 1870. Here you see Paul, in his world composed of paper products, at ease behind the counter in a characteristic pose of dreamy contemplation, ever expectant of the next customer to burst through the door demanding paper bags. The crowded symphonic detail of the bags and tags and signs in this masterful portrait manifest the contents of Paul’s extraordinary mind, possessing a natural facility to keep to track of all his stock, as well as working out all the prices, discounts for multiples and VAT percentages with ease.

I do not know what I expected when I met Lucinda Rogers for the first time, but I certainly was not prepared for her alluring poise, as she arrived looking chic in a tweed coat with dramatic long straight copper hair, pale skin and a huge ring with a rectangular stone – with an intensity of glamour as if she had stepped from a Jean Luc Godard movie. As we shook hands and I complimented her on her work, she flashed her hazel eyes with a generous smile, and I was momentarily disarmed to realise that she was looking at me with the same shrewd vision which she demonstrates in her elegant work. Once introductions were accomplished, we enjoyed several hours studying this remarkable set of drawings, which exist collectively today as a unique portrait of our neighbourhood as it was in the first decade of this new century.

They were created by Lucinda between 2003 and 2008, for an exhibition at the Prince’s Foundation Gallery in Shoreditch and then for a feature in an Italian design magazine, Case da Abitare, as she explained to me, “I was offered an exhibition, so I decided to make it of the East End  – because I had only drawn New York up until then – with the focus on Spitalfields and especially on people working. So not really about the buildings, but about recording the things that go on inside the buildings and how they are changing. Not like a photograph, but more about a particular day, your feelings, and what you choose to leave out or leave in to make the picture. You are making something that’s less factual and more subjective.”

The first drawing Lucinda made was of the B2B building in Usborn St at the bottom of Brick Lane. “The reason I did this drawing was because of the numbers that are cut out of plywood and nailed to the wall to advertise the sound studio where the soundtracks for Bollywood films are recorded. The floor beneath is occupied by the rag trade, the Jewish Monumental Mason is next door, in between is the Italian Coffee Shop, while in the background the Gherkin is being built and in the foreground is an apple core.” she told me, enumerating the diverse elements in her picture that coalesce to define the elusive mutable culture of this location, where today an estate agent occupies the property.

The modest aesthetic of these drawings upon tinted paper with just a few touches of colour is dramatically in contrast to their bold compositions and scale. Lucinda’s work is closer to cinema than photography, because confronted with the physical presence of the works you cannot resist turning your head to scan the extent of these images.I see the finished drawing in my mind,” Lucinda said to me plainly, revealing an imaginative confidence that permits her to work without preparatory drawings, defining the structure of these pictures with her first deftly-placed bold brushstrokes.

Each was completed in a single session on location in the street or in the workplace, contributing to the spontaneity that all these drawings share. The fragile lines that conjure these images out of ether give them tremendous energy and life, whilst also emphasising their diaphanous transient quality of vision. As Lucinda Rogers admitted to me with philosophical smile and a gentle shrug of perplexity, “Everything that I draw changes…”

Brick Lane at the junction with Hanbury St.

At the rear of the Nicholls & Clarke building, Norton Folgate.

Leatherworkers at Hyfact Ltd, Links Yard, Spelman St.

Sunday in the Spitalfields Market, Christmas

B2B Building, Osborn St.

Sunrise wedding services, Hanbury St.

Paul Gardner, Gardners Market Sundriesmen, Commercial St.

Phil at Crown & Leek joinery, Deal St.

KTP Printing, Princelet St.

Night in the kitchen at the Beigel Bake, looking out towards Brick Lane.

Big John Carter playing Boogie Woogie on Brick Lane.

Saffire furniture shop, Redchurch St.

Columbia Road Flower Market.

Eugene at  North Eastern Motors, Three Colts Lane.

Junction of Middlesex St and Wentworth St, viewed from Petticoat Towers.

Bishopsgate Goods Yard with Spitalfields and the City beyond, viewed from pool deck at Shoreditch House.

Drawings copyright © Lucinda Rogers

20 Responses leave one →
  1. November 10, 2010

    these are fantastic!

  2. November 10, 2010

    I love Lucinda’s work and would love to be able to afford to give one to my daughter who lives in Bethnal Green.

  3. November 10, 2010

    It’s really great to see the Spitalfields set. Lucy’s drawings are wonderful.

    You didn’t ask Lucy about what she does when she’s not drawing Spitalfields! The enigmatic last comment speaks volumes……

  4. Phoebe Hollins permalink
    November 10, 2010

    Lucinda these pictures are just beautiful, let me no how i could purchase a print. If you cant email me, please gentle author make my wish come true!

  5. November 11, 2010

    superb use of line and the hints of tone or colour work beautifully with it

  6. BARBARA permalink
    November 12, 2010

    I love these works of art. Distinctive and special. Thank you for showing them to me! Barbara

  7. November 17, 2010

    wonderful and beautiful record of a fast changing environement great style and insight i have asked and she has accepted… to do a show at eleven spitalfields next year!
    bravo lucy!

  8. Mary permalink
    November 23, 2010

    Lucinda , You never cease to amaze me.

  9. November 26, 2010

    realy truly beautiful, i love the curated view of things defined with the dynamic of the line and occasional color

  10. Miss J permalink
    April 20, 2011

    Incredible and inspiring! I sketch the city and I hope to be able to achieve work of this standard one day.

  11. Ree permalink
    January 1, 2012

    Yes…Fantastic work…

  12. February 2, 2012

    very convincing work Lucinda, would you like to hold an exhibition in my Gallery in Artillery Lane?



  13. just love your art, my family were huguenots in 17thC, LIVED WILKS STREET.. permalink
    February 18, 2012

    love your drawings and paintings

    thanks carol chaplin

  14. February 22, 2012

    Great work, loved all of them.
    do you sell prints?

  15. Grant Fleming permalink
    February 23, 2012

    Born Stepney / School Stratford / Live Brick Lane – A Photographer who travelled the World..

    these drawings make me feel very much at home. Thank-you.

    Wonderful stuff

  16. March 4, 2012

    Love these drawings, on my wish list for art work!

  17. June 15, 2012

    For all those out there who admire Lucinda’s work as much as we do just to let you know selected prints and originals of her work can now be found at the Tanner & Lawson gallery on Columbia Road, E2 7RG

  18. April 3, 2017

    Great works!! I would like to buy one or two of them, is it still possible?

    At the moment I live in Florence Italy – Mobile: – 0039 340 364 98 98

    Please do contact me to let me know whether this request of my is a ossibility,
    andif so, howmuch would cost me!!


  19. SandraD permalink
    November 21, 2017

    Captured the perfect essence….lovely

  20. Beverley permalink
    September 25, 2019

    What wonderful work!! I am thrilled to acquaint myself with a new boogie woogie player – Big John Carter playing in Brick Lane. Will listen to some of his work tomorrow via Google – sorry I can’t be there for a performance – it’s too far from Oz.

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