West End Ware

A painting depicting women's shoes and a young woman
West End Ware, (diptych), 2015, 122 cm x 244 cm, oil on MDF

West End Ware is a large oil painting that pitches Munch’s The Scream headlong into retail therapy and the art of Ancient Greece.


Display of Christian Laboutin shoes at the Victoria and Albert Museum
The Colour Nude, V&A display of Christian Laboutin shoes

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 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.


A Photoshop composition of a young woman and a display of shoes
Design made in Photoshop

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.

A young woman holds her hands to her ears
Holly posing for West End Ware

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.

A detail from an oil painting of a woman's hand holding a shoe
West End Ware – detail

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.