That’s Eros in A Piccadilly Circus Crowd Painting, Isn’t It?

Painting of Piccadilly Circus with Eros Sculpture and people milling around.

Sometimes, looking at an artwork, the ideas flow easily. A feature stands out or a thought shouts loudly. Crowd painting, it’s busy, almost too busy. Piccadilly Circus is overlooked by Eros, or so is the common perception. Eros seemed a good title. If you are unfamiliar with the place. Could you guess what or who Eros, is in amongst this chaos?

Let me help you out. The aluminium figure standing on one leg and brandishing a bow is known as Eros. He points towards Regent Street in the painting. Except it’s not Eros but his twin Anteros. Standing atop a grand black edifice, with layers of decoration, and facets, indistinct in the painting, but overwhelming in reality. The Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain. Climbing, sitting and standing around this are tourists visitors travellers, and workers on their breaks.

This is everyday London, in the heart of the city.

The shops and architecture create a grand scene in the nation’s capitol. People flock into Piccadilly Circus every day. To meet, to photograph and to be immersed in London culture. It’s a landmark familiar and easily found. A frequent meeting place for all visitors to the capital.

Behind Anteros is Lilywhites, six floors of Regency architecture. Panes of glass, green and opaque, not what you expect from glass, but the sunlight stops us seeing far inside, on a day like this. The store buildings take on brilliant weathered colours. I apply inks in intense colours and use water and salt to dilute the colour. Whilst it’s intentionally done, how much dilation actually occurs is at the whim of the watercolour. Sometimes it takes away all the brilliance, leaving subdued colour, like in the section on the main Lilywhite’s signed. Other times, it allows the intensity to remain, as in the sections on either side.

The people are a mixed bag. A boy looks like he’s about to climb up to sit on ledge. A couple of talking, but distractedly looking in opposite directions. It’s one of those lazy everyday conversations about nothing in particular. In the bottom left, a man in sunglasses talks to someone just off the page. The man besides him also looks that way, along with the woman a few steps down. What is it, I wonder? What has their attention?

More casual conversations are taking place elsewhere. A man stands, carrying his coat, as he looks back for his companions. Behind him, the man in black jacket and purple shirt inclines his head, thinking. Another black jacket, with his back to us, is also deep in thought. While a girl in brown with red hair looks to the right, hair whipping about to face. Yet, another figure gazes at a phone.

As you look, more people emerge in more details of life happening, and you wonder…

“What happened next?”

One thing I’m certain of, this is not my last Crowd painting. I’ve shied away from crowds in the past but lately, they’re growing on me.

Painting of Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain in  Piccadilly Circus with "Eros"  or more correctly the Anteros Sculpture and people milling around.
The Meeting Place – ©2020-Cathy ReadWatercolour-and-Acrylic-ink-76x56cm

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