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Doreen Fletcher, Still Standing

November 29, 2020
by the gentle author

Commercial Cars, Commercial Rd

Doreen Fletcher‘s new exhibition, STILL STANDING opens at Townhouse, Spitalfields, next Saturday 5th December. Below she introduces a selection of her new and recently completed paintings.

Rinkoff’s, Vallance Rd

About half way down Vallance Rd is this well-known East End Jewish bakery adjoining a newsagents which was, until recently, a precarious structure. It was in this guise that I was attracted to paint the subject, especially by comparison with the stern expression of the founder of the bakery depicted on the end wall, forever overlooking the comings and goings of the street.

In the three years since I began studies for this painting, refurbishment has happened, replacing the original patina with a new flat surface. However I was relieved to see that the building was not destroyed.

I realise that I have painted a kind of a memory. When a feeling is realised, it can quickly be dissipated. I suppose that I have always painted from memory, from the thoughts and feelings I am able to take away from a subject, and I hope that contributes to the power an image can hold.


An airport is an unusual subject for me. The skyline was the initial attraction, with the contrast between the impermanence and fragility of the aircraft against the monumental Tate & Lyle sugar refinery. It was almost two years ago I started this small painting but, as I worked, the depiction changed and the aircraft dissolved into misty light.

Most airplanes are grounded and the skies are empty now but the Tate & Lyle refinery continues to issue vapours. Along this part of the river the refinery remains one of the last vestiges of manufacturing industry still functioning. Situated between the Royal Docks and the river, on some days it melts into its surroundings.

The of Mountain of Fire & Miracles, Dagenham

I first saw this on a to visit my partner’s mother in Queens Hospital, Romford, one Sunday afternoon. I was struck by its composure and monumentality, despite the plethora of bins and graffiti. During the sixties and seventies, it had been a bowling alley been built opposite the Ford Motor Works. Now the painting is finished, my partner’s ninety-one year old mother has recovered due to the care provided by our wonderful NHS and is happily isolating at home.

Meridian Gate, Docklands

Even when the redevelopment of the London Docks began, the streets off the main thoroughfares would be largely empty and, in its early days, the Docklands Light Railway did not operate at the weekends. Then, just as the flowerbeds and trees were being planted around Canary Wharf, the economy collapsed leading to large swathes of real estate remaining empty.

I came across this painting from that time. I had once thought of it as a too cold and clean but maybe because of its age, or because our city streets are once again deserted, it has acquired an atmosphere for me that chimes with where we are now.

The Red Temple, Bethnal Green

Red brick is not such a common sight in East London, although in the Midlands, dour soot-blackened red brick Methodist churches are everywhere. Despite my title, this building is no longer used for worship. It was built as Parish Hall in 1904 next to St Matthews, Bethnal Green, though I do not know how long it functioned in this capacity. It has adapted to changes becoming a warehouse, an art gallery and more recently, a music distribution company.

Coming Home, Forest Gate

Over recent months I have enjoyed the freedom from social responsibility and have embraced the work of completing paintings that have been waiting to be resolved. Yet as the weeks passed I have also begun to miss the social rituals of daily life.

I always find night scenes challenging to paint. I have been very attracted to twilight ever since I moved to London in 1972 and wandered the streets of the West End at night, marvelling at the brightly lit shop windows.

When I revisited it, this painting had acquired a poignancy. It has gone through many changes since its inception several years ago. To me, the lone figure walking through the darkness is no longer leaving a hard day at work but arriving to a destination of safety and security.

During the lockdown, I also discovered a difficulty in starting any new pictures and a tendency to reminisce about my childhood, growing up in the back streets of a Midlands town, through exchanging memories with some of my contemporaries whom I have not thought of in decades.

You may also like to take a look at

Doreen Fletcher’s East End

19 Responses leave one →
  1. November 29, 2020

    Lovely work!

  2. November 29, 2020

    So proud of our local artist Doreen. Please produce another book of these great paintings.

  3. Jill Wilson permalink
    November 29, 2020

    Always good to read Doreen’s comments on her paintings and to hear what first attracted her to the various subjects.

    Thank you.

  4. Jane Jones permalink
    November 29, 2020

    Thank heaven for Doreen Fletcher with her unique vision and ability to capture the magic of otherwise overlooked places. More please?

  5. Peter Harrison permalink
    November 29, 2020

    Beautiful work, full of thought. Hope the exhibition goes well!

  6. November 29, 2020

    Thanks for the nice Gallery Tour, it was my first Virtual one in Pandemic Times. I like the Works of Doreen Fletcher very much!

    By the way, I found a very interesting digital remastered Clip about London’s Everyday Life in the 1940s:

    Love & Peace

  7. Linda Granfield permalink
    November 29, 2020


    Doreen’s captions add so much–and her pivoting (now there’s a ‘COVID-word’!) adds the historical details that make these paintings so reflective of what we are feeling and seeing now.

    Wish I could be there for the gallery show!

  8. David Antscherl permalink
    November 29, 2020

    How evocative, particularly ‘Coming Home, Forest Gate’. Thank you, Ms. Fletcher, for sharing these images with those of us too far away to come to your show. Every success with it.

  9. November 29, 2020

    I love these painings, I’m really missing being able to go into London (I live just outside) and seeing these paintings (& reading all the Gentle Authors emails) brings the London I miss so much closer to me.
    I really love the Coming Home, Forest Gate picture, I feel I am there, just about to walk into the station. Thank you.

  10. November 29, 2020

    Thanks for this! So excited to see that the Town House is holding an exhibition – must try to get down from the provinces …

  11. Ruth Fleming permalink
    November 29, 2020

    These are incredible paintings, especially love ‘Coming home, Forest Gate’

  12. Sonia Murray permalink
    November 29, 2020

    Love “Coming Home, Forest Gate,” which has the feel and quality of a masterpiece. Please do more in chiaroscuro, Doreen. Your night scene is evocative and beautiful, a painting that will hang in the Tate one day – and NOT the Tate Modern!

  13. Su C. permalink
    November 29, 2020

    I really enjoy Doreen’s work.

    I love seeing these places empty of people. It’s as if the city is taking a long deep breath to reset the new and next day.

  14. November 29, 2020

    These painting by Doreen are so exquisite and true to life. I particularly like the light and shade used in the entrance to Forest Gate Tube Station.
    Just wish I was able to come up to my old stopping ground to see the exhibition.

  15. November 29, 2020

    I also feel the Coming Home painting is a warm one, looking forward to the comfort of home rather than depicting weariness. Registers. Like it a lot.

  16. saba permalink
    November 29, 2020

    Doreen, I know the subject is art here — but, you are tall and elegant. I also love the great haircut. Thought you might like to know! Saba

  17. November 29, 2020

    Doreen’s paintings are wonderful and evocative.
    Thank you for a trip down memory lane …especially Rinkoff’s in Vallance Road and the Red Chapel. Such a fantastic body of work by a talented artist.

  18. November 29, 2020

    Beautiful work Doreen. I like the accompanying film too. I liked the airport picture and the Red Temple. Hope your exhibition goes well. Best wishes Peta

  19. Neil Aves permalink
    December 6, 2020

    Such incredible eye for detail, so atmospheric. Could be mistaken for photographs so easily. Absolutely essential that Doreen’s work continues to capture the little things in life and memories of the East End before it all disappears under glass and steel.

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