Urban Narratives show: text inspiration courtesy of Mr. Hogarth, 1751.

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In drawing together my work for the forthcoming Urban Narratives show at the Coningsby Gallery, I’m making decisions about groups of drawings and paintings for cabinets and walls alike. All of the paintings bar one will be making their gallery debut and I am now in the interesting process of selecting text that juxtaposes or increase the oomph of the various works on the walls. As I write this at 7.55am all of St. Giles is breakfasting and the repeated whistles that interrupt the gentle hum of traffic and church bells, indicate a longing for another kind of early morning consumption. When I moved here 8 years ago I was amazed by these repeated whistles and yells: the sounds of crack users seeking their dealers in this urban landscape. Creatures of the urban jungle indeed. This method would have served no use on the streets of St. Giles two hundred and sixty years ago for it would have been drowned amid the cacophonous din of 18th century London life.

So again I look to Mr. H(ogarth), this time for ‘text’ inspiration.  Writing in 1751 he observed that – “…the dreadful consequences appeared on every street…In Gin Lane, every circumstance of its horrid effects is brought to view in terrorum. Idleness, poverty, misery and distress, which drives even to madness and death, are the only objects that are to be seen…”

I’ve seen so much here from my window – crack users are ‘locked into’ seeking the next rock: they crawl around in doorways and scour pavements all times of the day and night. The image on the right was drawn at 2am one morning, the guy scrambling on all fours over the pavement, lighter in hand to illuminate the ground. This scene reminded me of ‘Night’ from the ‘Four Times of the Day’ Hogarth series which depicts a chaotic nocturnal 18th c. Charing Cross…

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