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The Townhouse Open Exhibition

September 7, 2020
by the gentle author

Back in the spring, I announced the Town House Gallery‘s inaugural Open Exhibition of paintings on an East End theme. This show opens next Saturday 12th September at Town House in Spitalfields and runs until 25th October (Wednesdays to Sundays). Please email to book your visit.

The selection committee was Fiona Atkins, David Buckman, Doreen Fletcher & The Gentle Author, but in the happy event all thirty pictures submitted are being hung which makes it a truly open exhibition.

Below I have picked out a few works to show you, some of which are by familiar names and others by artists who are new to me. Casting my eyes over these works, I am delighted that the century-old painting tradition of East End Vernacular flourishes to this day.

Callegari’s Restaurant, Commercial Rd, by Doreen Fletcher

‘This facade is an echo of the days when independent coffee bars proliferated in London, run mainly by Greek or Italian families. I first came across Callegari’s in the eighties, then one day in the early nineties the wire grille remained in place and a handwritten sign said ‘Gone on holiday’. Ten years later the grille and the note were still there. It had faded in the sunlight to the point of illegibility and I wondered what had happened to the owner. He was Italian, perhaps Sicilian.’

Interior of Leila’s Shop by Eleanor Crow

‘I am embarking on a series of interiors in East London. The display of wares in Leila’s Shop, backlit by daylight falling onto the ranks of containers and display of cheeses, the rolled pats of butter on a slate slab, the upended bottles on a French rack, and the recent arrivals of produce still in their cardboard boxes, exude a calm, quiet beauty.

East London, that part ‘beyond the Tower’, offers many glimpses into its past, through shops, houses, businesses and architecture. By focussing on the interiors, I want to record some of the timeless qualities of this region of London, despite perpetual change.’

Arnold Circus by Melissa Scott Miller

‘I discovered Arnold Circus about forty years ago when I was a student at the Slade and wandered around that area when I was going to Brick Lane on Sundays.

As lockdown was easing I started to think about painting there, timing it so I would catch the hollyhocks in flower. On the first day, a white cat strolled across the path and I put him in.

I had chats with the gardeners and there was a great feeling of camaraderie amongst them. I love the red brick blocks of flats and schools. I go into a reverie when I am painting outside and think about the past and the present, and I hope all that goes into my painting.’

The Lipton Building, Shoreditch, by Louise Burston

‘My grandparents lived in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, during the twenties, where my grandfather was a manager on a large tea estate. Thomas Lipton purchased his own tea gardens there, where he packaged and sold the first Lipton tea. Built in 1931, The Lipton Building still dominates the junction of Shoreditch High St and Bethnal Green Rd.’

View from the 242 Dalston Lane by Jes Liberty

Star of the East by Julie Price

‘My family is originally from the East End and I have worked next to Spitalfields for over thirty years. I am interested in the history and conservation of the area and am passionate about painting buildings that tell stories about times gone by.’

Bell Lane, Spitalfields by Bridget Strevens Marzo

‘Seizing colour and movement on paper in real time is a kind of sport for me. What will get me going on slower-paced watercolours of buildings, like those in Bell Lane, is the play of light across coloured surfaces. Then, as I work, I will sense a story behind the traces that people have left there. Something as commonplace as the marks on an old shop front, a shuttered window, street furniture and graffiti can take on a depth as intriguing and mysterious as a sculpture on a cathedral porch.’

Man in the Window by Trevor Burgess

‘I have been painting the East End for nearly twenty years and find an endless source of subject matter in the streets, markets and public places. I am interested in ordinary life, what is going on around me as I walk about the city. Then came the lockdown and we were all trapped in our houses. So this is an unusually empty painting of a guy sitting in the window of a house in Hackney.’

Limekiln Dock, Limehouse by Stewart Smith

Stewart Smith was born in Hackney and is a painter and sometime stone carver and printmaker. Recently Stewart painted a series of East End views, exploring the old and the new in quiet spots away from the slums, tower blocks and underpasses.

De Walvisch at Hermitage Wharf, Wapping by Peta Bridle

‘De Walvisch means ‘The Whale’ and she is a Dutch sailing clipper boat from 1896 that delivered eels along The Thames. There is so much to draw and inspire me in London and I keep a sketchbook of ink drawings that I make on the spot when I visit.’

The Black Horse by Jonathan Madden

‘I was born in East London but have lived and worked in many different parts of the city. The main subject in my work is the overlooked spaces and buildings that fall victim to the developer and the bulldozer. Many of these are pubs, so I started painting them back in 2014, representing them as they appear now, often ignored but still culturally relevant.’

Ezra St by Marc Gooderham

‘I have always lived and worked in London. The city is my main source of inspiration with our capital’s unsettled skies creating the perfect backdrop. I paint the streets around me, predominantly the East End. Concentrating on the city’s decaying, unique architecture I try to capture buildings that hold an attractive melancholy, those that have been neglected and fallen into disrepair as the living city continues to evolve around them.’

Liverpool St Station by Nicholas Borden

‘I work from life, my subjects are usually local and I prefer to find a perspective that is from above and afar. I am drawn to activity and a sense of busyness, so these are reoccurring themes in my paintings.

I want to depict a truthful visual world but my compositions are not photographic, instead I seek a personal vision without contrivance. Being known for having an original vision of my own is what is important to me.’

Building Site, Folgate St, Spitalfields by Jane Smith

‘I have lived and worked around East London for over twenty-five years as an artist and illustrator. I have a love of architecture and the built environment.’

The Last Pie by Sarah Brownlee

‘This depicts the final days of the pie & mash shop F Cooke on Broadway Market. I produced studies towards the end of last year but completed the painting when F Cooke closed its doors for good this year. It was an East End institution, I was desperate to capture a moment there before we lost it forever.

I love scenes from everyday life, mostly people in their favourite places. This can be anywhere from Hackney, where I live, to Northumberland, where I am from.’

Brick Lane Memory 1973 by Tony Norman

‘I work with the rejected, the neglected and the washed up. I am interested in the forgotten faces of a past era. I try to combine this and the materials with respect and a little gentle humour.’

Christchurch, Spitalfields, seen from 3 Fournier St by Suzanne McGilloway

‘I am an Irish painter from Derry in the North West of Ireland. With a love of Georgian architecture, I am moved to record and explore the urban landscape of Spitalfields. I am drawn by the distinctive quality of the place, its continuity and its ever changing landscape, working to capture a contemporary interpretation of the streets and its inhabitants.’

Town House Gallery, 5 Fournier St, Spitalfields, E1 6QE

You may also like to take a look at

Doreen Fletcher’s East End

27 Responses leave one →
  1. David Antscherl permalink
    September 7, 2020

    Welcome back, GA! It’s so nice to see and read my daily ‘fix’ again. I hope that your vacation was refreshing and re-invigorating.

    Those are some lovely images in the show.

  2. Greta Kelly permalink
    September 7, 2020

    It’s dull outside but the sun is shining inside. Just opened my laptop and I am so relieved to see your wonderful colourful post this morning. I must say I was a bit apprehensive as September crept along and no news from the GA. looking forward to your blogs to start my day! Hope all is well in Spitalfields!

  3. September 7, 2020

    Thank You for these Lovely Paintings. I have really enjoyed them.?????????

  4. Eve McBride permalink
    September 7, 2020

    What fabulous paintings! It is so good to receive your daily blog again, I have missed it, and I hope you are feeling rejuvenated after your well deserved holiday.

  5. Constance permalink
    September 7, 2020

    I send much gratitude your way from across the pond. I have so loved reading your posts during this dark year. Really, you have kept all in touch with the meaning – and life-giving power – of everyday sacredness. And I so much enjoy the art works featuring such distinct and beautiful voices and visions.

  6. Christine permalink
    September 7, 2020

    Good morning so good to hear from you. I hope you enjoyed your leave.

  7. Liz Jolley permalink
    September 7, 2020

    “Hear Hear!” – thank you GA.

  8. Richard Pascoe permalink
    September 7, 2020

    Dear GA
    Welcome back, you have certainly been missed !
    Best Wishes Richard.

  9. Christine Dowdell permalink
    September 7, 2020

    Thank you for all you do. I always look forward to your daily email. I love London and am fascinated by its wealth of history. Come as often as possible but sadly not this year. However am here this weekend and looking forward to my favourite way of spending time which is just pottering and followed my nose. In this way I have made some amazing discoveries.

  10. September 7, 2020

    What a grand re-entry! I’m very impressed by this array of (varied! ) artists.
    I hope your respite has been restorative and enriching……Mr. Schrodinger’s also…….and
    we welcome you back with brass bands, flags waving, and applause.

    Goodness! “Ezra Street”……I would love to see more from this artist.

  11. September 7, 2020

    Welcome back and may you long continue to take us on trips through London. An ex-Londoner living on the Isle of Wight, I would love to visit this exhibition but sadly, age and circumspection denies me this. I hope it goes well for all. Are any of the paintings for sale, by the way, or do any of the painters have other pictures to sell that you could mention?

  12. September 7, 2020

    So pleased you are back GA…
    Really enjoyed today’s post thank you.

  13. September 7, 2020

    Welcome back dear Gentle Author.
    I agree with Constance, long may you continue to keep us all ‘in touch with the meaning -and life -giving power of everyday sacredness”.
    Your uplifting and inspiring words have resonated with your readers throughout these very difficult months and we are all in your debt, thank you.
    What wonderful work shown today…..some very familiar scenes and memories that I hold very close.
    So sad to hear that Cooke’s has finally closed…’s been there for as long as I can remember.
    Another East End stalwart like Percy Ingles.

  14. September 7, 2020

    Welcome back, G.A. It’s great to be able to read you again. Please say hi to Schrodinger.

  15. Saba permalink
    September 7, 2020

    GA, I am thrilled to see that you are back! As soon as I saw on my phone that you are back, I turned on my computer.

    Highly accomplished artists have created a wonderful body of London scenes. I beg of you, GA, on bended knee and after several previous pleas, to let your readers know the medium and size of each image. Most are watercolor, but a few could be oils. Limekiln Dock is gorgeous, a skilled interpretation of a landscape. If I knew whether the painting is oil or watercolor, I would better know how to think about it. Could it possibly be a print — I don’t think so. That painting in oil would be very different from the same painting in watercolor.

    Well, again, welcome back.

  16. Georgina Briody permalink
    September 7, 2020

    Good to have you back, missed you.

    Enjoyed today’s post and, from somewhere in the back of my memory, brought back the time I weekly drove through and worked in this area and thus recognised some of the old places. Good memories.

    Really perked me up. Thanks.

  17. Jill Wilson permalink
    September 7, 2020

    Yes – I echo all of the above – great to have you back (and give Schrodinger a stroke from me too!) xx

  18. Linda Granfield permalink
    September 7, 2020

    What a spectacular array of art this morning! Such fresh perspectives. How I wish I could see all 30 pieces. (hint, hint)

    The Lipton Building upon the opened-flat cardboard tea carton—wonderful!

    I hope your vacation time gave you fun, and new foods and drinks, and time to ‘just think’ and not have to write. (Writers write all the time, that’s what we do, however, time without deadline thoughts is always refreshing.)

    I’ve realized that your blog (the only one I follow) is truly an important start to my day–and I’ve come to regard others who comment, like Lynne P., as my own friends.

    So, hi to Lynne Perrella! And thanks, GA, for bringing us joy anew during these dark times.

  19. Sonia Murray permalink
    September 7, 2020

    Glad you were able to go on holiday, Gentle Author, and glad you are back with more stories and articles. You brighten our mornings!

    Love the pictures. Ezra Street by Marc Gooderham is breathtaking, a masterpiece. Where can we see more of this artist’s work?

    All the best,
    Sonia Murray

  20. Lynn MacKay permalink
    September 7, 2020

    Dear Gentle Author,
    Welcome back; I do hope your holiday was restful and healthy. Ruth Richardson told me more than a year a go I ought to let you know how much I enjoy your blog, and now, finally, I am doing so. I begin each day (I teach at a university in Canada) by ignoring the long queue of usually not terribly important and sometimes dunning emails, until I find yours. I sit at my office computer, coffee in hand, and thoroughly enjoy five minutes of lovely, sometimes quirky, East London. Thank you so much. I do not in any way begrudge you your holiday (especially not this year), but I have had some withdrawal pains each morning. I look forward to another year of you and Schrodinger, the people of Brick Lane and beyond, urban paintings, and whatever else you choose to share. You make my morning better, and I am grateful.
    Lynn MacKay

  21. Judith Haxton permalink
    September 7, 2020

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful show ….but I’m now missing London more than ever !!!
    All the best to you and Schrodinger

  22. Rob Gullen permalink
    September 7, 2020

    Brilliant – I’m planning a visit to the exhibition later this month – combining it with memories of my youth in Hackney and when I worked in the City in the early 1960s – riding around all the old haunts on my bike!
    Having rarely been to London in the past 30 years or so it’ll be interesting to see what’s new … and what’s been lost.

  23. Catherine permalink
    September 7, 2020

    Welcome back–I hope your autumn will be richly fulfilling, if quiet. What wonderfully evocative paintings! I particularly like Tony Norman’s witty collage. I hope at some point you’ll reprint the book of Doreen Fletcher’s paintings–I missed out getting a copy when it first came out.

  24. September 8, 2020

    Everything very realistic, even the “Brick Lane Memory” from 1973. Very fine Artworks!

    Love & Peace

  25. John Daltrey permalink
    September 9, 2020

    I just want to say thank you for everything. I have read your postings from day One , they are always fascinating and much appreciated by this East End boy

  26. Audrey Kneller (nee Buffman) permalink
    September 10, 2020

    Dear Gentle Author

    Do hope you had an enjoyable and restful holiday, and I wish to thank you for your daily articles, so rich in content, which I look forward to, and have opened my eyes to a wider world beyond my doorstep. I loved these evocative paintings.

  27. Yvonne Cheyney (nee Buffman permalink
    September 11, 2020

    I would like to add to my sister Audrey Kneller’s comment about welcoming you back and hoping you had a wonderful break. As all above have said, we look forward to your day to day postings. Since I am over here in Southern California (having left jolly old London in 1964) your articles on London and surrounding areas remind me of my youth – oh, so long ago. Keep on posting and we will keep on reading.

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