Meditating on The Painting of Gracechurch Street

Painting of architecture in Gracechurch Street in London with clock face

Grace Church Street.

The buildings in this painting of Gracechurch Street loom overhead. You’ll be forgiven for thinking what church is this? It seems like you’re gazing on a clock tower but far from it. The clock is suspended on the wall, from a curved iron bracket in the foreground.

The hour is 2:40pm and the second hand is frozen in time, never to advance or mark the passage of minutes and hours. Capturing this moment for eternity. The Roman numerals are clear on its white dial. The hands like tiny arrows, ready to spring forward.

The painting is divided in two in the middle. One half cold and the other hot. Or maybe it’s old and new? Or constrained and spacious? The dark windows on the fake tower are interrupted by a street light, which blends into the detail. Hidden until you suddenly notice its presence. Then suddenly lost again. As you wonder what else you can find.

There’s a stack of bay windows picked out iridescent blue and black. Raw sienna, and yellow ochre, provide the warmth and contrast with the turquoise blue of the sky. And what a sky it is! Swirling blue shapes created by cling film in the painting process, give it an almost mosaic feeling.

And the mosaic is more real, when you look at the building in the bottom left quarter. Gleaming white in the sun, with windows picked out in deep indigo. Pieced together like the tiny stones of a Roman floor Shading lines, soften the colour to help define the details. Their angle, bringing your eyes full circle to the main buildings, and their effort to persuade you. This is a clock tower. And I’ve been misleading you all the time.

Look closely at the textures. The fine tendrils of colour exploding from the white building, and the iron bracket on the clock. There are a few other places, but these are the ones that capture your attention. Amidst all that bright colour, in the top right, is a triangle of darkness. Look at it awhile, and the colour will emerge. First texture, the pale blue, brown, greens and a swirling mass of speckles with tiny white stars exploding around.

This painting of Gracechurch Street, holds many surprises.

Painting of architecture in Gracechurch Street in London with clock face
Gracechurch-Street- ©2017-Cathy-Read-Watercolour-and-Acrylic-ink 40 x 50cam
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