Thursday 22 May 2014
Linda and I headed East, to visit The Nunnery, as recommended by Diamond Geezer. (There, is by the way, a school of thought that suggests that one could live one's whole life just following his suggestions)
The day started with a sight hiccup, as neither of us had thought to look properly at a map, and the area map outside Bow Road station did not mention the place. And Linda's phone (she is the modern one) was refusing to pick up the internet. However, more traditional means of navigation proved effective - we asked a postal worker - as we soon reached the narrow alley that takes you to the Gallery.
At the moment, it is displaying artworks by the East London Group of painters. Between 1928 and 1936, John Cooper worked with people from the East End. He was helped by people like Walter Sickert (prolific artist and friend of Lord Beaverbrook) and there are several Sickerts displayed here.
But the real interest lies in the paintings by the East End's own artists. Several domestic scenes, in varying styles are displayed, as well as a number of works derived from what we assumed to be art class outings, like the flamingo at the Bethnal Green Museum.
Then there are some holiday pictures, made at Herne Bay, Hastings and as far afield as Lyme Regis. We thought the ventriloquist on the pier particularly striking, with that creepy feel that the dolls always have.
We very much enjoyed the pictures of local scenes, several of them familiar to us from our bus journeys in the area. The Bryant and May Match factory, now rebuilt and rebranded as the Bow Quarter (where, by the way, you could buy a one bedroom ground floor flat for £320,000) can be seen as it was in the 1920s.
We liked the delicate lamp post in Harold Steggles' painting of Old Ford Road. Several of his works have fine, wiry winter trees as well.
Albert Turpin's 'Canal Scene in Victoria Park' was one that I would happily have taken home. The walk through Victoria Park (from - say - The QEII Olympic Park towards Angel) is one we enjoy.
The subtlety of the colours in Walter Steggles' Bow Bridge also took our attention.
All in all, we admired the pictures very much, and were able to enjoy them alone (which is rather a pity). I suppose it is part of the strange way London is perceived by the rest of the country that there is a play about the North East's Pitmen Painters, while these Londoners are less well known.
The gallery is very easy to get to and well worth a visit. The 205 bus would convey you from Paddington, or the 25 from Oxford Circus, even if you don't want to use the Underground or the DLR.