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Doreen Fletcher, Painter

June 13, 2017
by the gentle author

In the second of my series of profiles of artists featured in EAST END VERNACULAR, Artists who painted London’s East End streets in the 20th century to be published by Spitalfields Life Books in October, I present the remarkable paintings of Doreen Fletcher. Click here to learn how you can support the publication of EAST END VERNACULAR

Hairdresser, Ben Jonson Rd, 2001

This is a small selection of the 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. Then, for a decade, all these pictures sat in Doreen’s attic until I persuaded her to take them out two years ago and let me photograph them for publication here on Spitalfields Life.

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 art work 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 neglected talent in painting.

Many of Doreen’s pictures exist as the only record of places that have long gone and it is highly gratifying that she is finally receiving 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 Crean Van, 1990 (Coloured Crayon Drawing)

Images copyright © Doreen Fletcher

Click here to preorder a copy of EAST END VERNACULAR for £25

10 Responses leave one →
  1. Jim McDermott permalink
    June 13, 2017

    Beautiful work! The art revealed in the past three days’ posts has been quite magical.

  2. June 13, 2017

    Doreen’s painting are wonderful, I can’t understand how anyone could have ever overlooked her genius. Valerie

  3. June 13, 2017

    GA, Doreen’s work is superb she has given us a glimpse into the past just like lots of other artists, maybe paintings over load. ‘East End Vernacular’ is the best way forward sorry Friederiki to be brutal, cream off the most interesting, buildings with groupings of people & long gone rarity pics also a good artist spread. I am sure you have got all this covered. This will be a mega world class collection of the East End in London and will attract global buyers a one-off collectable art chance !take it. Poet John. PS – See my big blog June 11 on SL I said it all then.

  4. Richard Smith permalink
    June 13, 2017

    I have really enjoyed looking at Doreen Fletcher’s paintings – they are wonderful! Thank you for posting them!

  5. Helen Breen permalink
    June 13, 2017

    Greetings from Boston,

    GA, what wonderful work. Surprising that Doreen’s work has been so unappreciated. Just love the light and shadow in “Rene’s Café, 1986.”


  6. Nicholas Borden permalink
    June 13, 2017

    Sincerely interested to see this. evocotive paintings which a have a timeless quality.Also the book really excited to see

  7. June 13, 2017

    Amazing pictures..the detail is stunning…a VERY talented artist. An absolute pleasure to see these works of art

  8. June 13, 2017

    Fantastic paintings and sketches. What an eye this artist has. As an artist myself, I can understand being daunted and fed up with rejection, but now her day has come. Good for her.

  9. John Richardson permalink
    June 13, 2017

    Just loved this work. So impressed with the quality of light – took me right back to my childhood. Could almost here the ‘quietness’ of the streets in the paintings. Under stated masterpieces of a life now gone. Stunning.

  10. Robin Blench permalink
    June 13, 2017

    Superb work. It simply amazes me that such talent went unrecognized for so many years!

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