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Peta Bridle’s London Etchings

April 20, 2015
by the gentle author

Every couple of months, Peta Bridle sends me her latest drypoint etchings of favourite people and places in London, and this new batch celebrates many beloved landmarks that are at risk of destruction. “It made my visits to these places seem more pressing to record them, not knowing how quickly boarding might go up, preventing anyone from seeing them ever again,” Peta admitted to me.

Gas Holders, Bethnal Green – “Viewed from Mare St, along Corbridge Crescent past Empress Coaches, you see a fine pair of nineteenth century gas holders. English Heritage have decided not to list them and instead granted the owners a Certificate of Immunity against listing, permitting the gas holders to be destroyed and the site redeveloped.”

Blossom St, Norton Folgate – “Running the length of Blossom St are a row of Victorian warehouses built in 1868. Once the headquarters of Nicholls & Clarke they now stand empty, awaiting their fate. This is such a beautiful atmospheric street with its black brickwork and cobbles, I find it inconceivable that a tower block could one day loom in its place.”

Fruit & Wool Exchange, Spitalfields “Viewed from the top of Spitalfields Market, the dignified Wool and Fruit Exchange has stood in Brushfield St since 1927, yet only a part of the facade will remain when the bulldozers move in this summer.”

Phoenix Wharf, Wapping High St – “This beautiful old wharf caught my eye when I was out on a walk. It was built around 1830 and is the oldest wharf in Wapping. Luckily the building itself is not under threat, but the view we have of it now will change forever as the car park opposite is due for redevelopment along with Swan Wharf next door. The developers plan to reduce the Stepney lamppost, the oldest gas lamp left in London, to a stump.”

Oxgate Farm, Cricklewood – “One could easily walk past this without realising what a beautiful building lies behind the scaffolding. Yet once inside it is peaceful and quiet, and modern London is shut off completely. Oxgate Farm has stood here since 1465 and was once part of a thousand acre Manor of Oxgate owned by St. Paul’s Cathedral but now it is reduced to just the farm and back garden. Although Oxgate Farm has managed to survive the centuries, now it badly needs repairs to stop it falling down.”

Archaeological finds from the Bishopsgate Goodsyard – From the left to right – Bone spoon, bone button (top), ceramic wig curler (beneath), green glass phial(top),  green glass bottle (beneath), white ceramic spoon (top), pair of ceramic marbles and a child’s bone whistle. (Courtesy of Museum of London Archaeology).

Tiles from the Bishopsgate Goodsyard – “Eighteenth century tin-glazed delftware wall tiles, as used in the fire surrounds of upper and middle class households. On the top left, I like the grumpy expression on the fisherman’s face – probably because he had tangled his line around his companions legs –  also, the expressive posture of the couple talking in the meadow below appeals to me, she with her hand on her hip and clutching her bag.” (Courtesy of Museum of London Archaeology)

Gary Arber, W F Arber & Co Ltd – Last year, Gary closed the print shop opened by his grandfather Walter in 1897 – “Gary is stood next to a Golding Jobber which he told me was used to print handbills for the suffragettes. On his right stands a Supermatic machine and, behind him in the corner, is a Heidelberg which he filled with paper to show me how it worked. The whole room was a confusion of boxes and paper with the odd tin toy thrown in, and lots of string hanging from the ceiling. I feel privileged to have been invited downstairs to make this record of his print shop.”

Spoons by Barn The Spoon – “From left to right: A cooking spoon. A spoon of medieval design. A spoon based on a Roma Gypsy design. The small spoon in the centre is a sugar spoon. A shovel. The large spoon on the right is a Roman ladle spoon. Barn told me the word ‘Spon’ which is carved on the handle is an old Norse word which means ‘chip of wood.’”

Leila’s Shop, Calvert Avenue “- I love visiting Leila’s Shop throughout the year to discover the fresh vegetables of every season, straight from the field and piled up in mouth-watering displays.”

Donovan Bros, Crispin St – “Although it is not a shop anymore I believe Donovan Bros are still producing packaging. I like the muted colours the shop front has been painted and wonder what the shop would have looked like inside?”

Borough Market, London Bridge – “This is the view overlooking Borough Market, looking from the top of Southwark Cathedral tower. The views of London from up there are beautiful but I don’t like the height too much!”

Wapping Old Stairs – “To reach the stairs you have a to go along a tiny passage to the side of the Town of Ramsgate. Originally, the stairs were a ferry point for people wishing to catch a boat along the river. I think they are quite beautiful and I like to see the marks of the masons’ tools, still left on the stones after all this time.”

The Widow’s Son, Bow – “The landlady stands  holding a hot cross bun in front of a large glass Victorian mirror with the pub name etched onto it. Every Good Friday, they have a custom where a sailor adds a new bun in a net hanging over the bar to celebrate the widow who once lived here, who made her drowned sailor son a hot cross bun each Easter in remembrance.”

E.Pellicci, Bethnal Green Rd. “Nevio Pellicci kindly allowed me to make a couple of visits to take pictures as reference to create this etching. It was at Christmas time and after they closed for the afternoon. Daisy my daughter is sitting in the corner.”

Paul Gardner at Gardners’ Market Sundriesmen, Commercial St. “I did buy a few bags off Paul whilst I was there!”

Tanya Peixoto at bookartbookshop, Pitfield St. “I am friends with Tanya who runs this shop and she has stocked my homemade books in the past.”

Des at Des & Lorraine’s Junk Shop, Bacon St. “An amazing place that I want to re-visit since I never got to look round it properly …”

Prints copyright © Peta Bridle

12 Responses leave one →
  1. Steph permalink
    April 20, 2015

    Peta, these are gorgeous. Do you have plans for an exhibition of these? This is the sort of London Life that the National Gallery should promote? Are any of these for sale?


  2. April 20, 2015

    ~ Such thoughtful, articulate and introspective examples of the art of etching.
    I wonder ~ Does the artist use the traditional hard-ground and acid-etch or
    does she do solar etching? ~ Just curious ~ I so love this suite of prints. ~
    They render immortal the ephemeral moment and document the humanity
    she cares for. Her print, “Wapping Old Stairs,” is reminiscent of a Whistler.
    My best regards to the artist ~

  3. April 20, 2015

    Wonderful pictures. And all the more poignant as many of these locations are under threat.

  4. Georgina Briody permalink
    April 20, 2015

    As far as I am aware, Donovan Bros. are still manufacturing in Deptford, South London. Back in the 90s I worked in the building next door and now see it from the train when I travel up to town.

  5. April 20, 2015

    An Extraordinary Graphic Artwork!

    Love & Peace

  6. Ros permalink
    April 20, 2015

    These are lovely – a marvellous selection

  7. April 20, 2015

    Wonderful! Such incredible details, and terrific descriptions.

    My grandmother grew up on Canon (Cannon) Road in Bromley, with a gas holder nearby. I didn’t realize those structures were not protected. Another loss for future generations. Can’t they keep a few??

  8. Pete permalink
    April 20, 2015

    These are fantastic, they have a real ‘old fashioned’ feel to them… brilliant !

  9. April 21, 2015

    Beautiful pictures, such strong atmosphere! So sad to see so many authentic parts of London under threat of destruction.

  10. Christine Carder permalink
    April 22, 2015

    I love Peta’s etchings and am the proud owner of a print of Barns spoons that he gave me for my birthday last year.

  11. Daisy permalink
    October 16, 2015

    Pete is my favourite artist ever.
    Such swag is shown in her work.
    I love it.

  12. Jacob permalink
    June 10, 2016

    Brilliant artwork 🙂

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