West End Ware is a large oil painting. It pitches Munch’s The Scream headlong into retail therapy and the art of Ancient Greece.
In December 2014, I visited the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington. I am lucky to live close enough to it that I can and do make regular visits there. It’s one of the world’s greatest museums.
On that particular day I discovered the Rapid Response Collecting section. A set of shoes designed by Christian Laboutin formed part of the display.
They resembled a forest of dismembered arms waving their wares at a demented fashionista.
The following day, equipped with a Nikon DSLR fitted with a telephoto lens, I sallied forth in search of a suitable model. I fought my way through London’s West End, until there she was, marching along Regent Street.
I was reminded of Edvard Munch’s The Scream.
Once again, my design incorporated the sign of a well known beverage. One which dominates Piccadilly Circus and promises so much happiness for those looking for a zero calorie diet.
At the time, I had also been looking at the art of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome.
Ancient Greek pottery has provided a record of that culture’s painting.
One such example is West Slope Ware, so-called because remnants were unearthed from the western slope of the Acropolis in Athens.
The Ancient Greeks made extensive use of a black glaze, which they produced by oxidizing iron. Consequently I chose to contrast black with terracotta.
I begun work on the painting and soon decided to change the face and hand of the figure. So I asked my daughter, Holly, to pose.
In the painting, I subsequently tipped her head and hand further forward, matching the woman I photographed in Regent Street.
I modelled the hands, arms, and shoes, using distinct brush strokes . I also extended my palette with Naples Yellow, Cadmium Scarlet, Indian Red, Ultramarine and Raw Umber.
In contrast to the shoes, I painted the figure in a more abstract manner. (Note the Greek geometric pattern drawn on the woman’s sweater.)
Initially, I painted all the hands in such a way as to mimic shop mannequins. Then I decided to change one of them, making it more human. Again, Holly was the model.
I employed two decorative borders, or meanders, to reinforce the Greek influence. These were made with stencils.
West End Ware is one of three paintings I made in early 2015, the others being Happy Hour and Yet Another Spectacle.
I like to think that each of these paintings forms part of a tradition, one which extends from Ancient Greece to the present day.