Admiralty Arch is a glorified barrier between two worlds. On this side: gentility, royalty, and palaces along the Mall overlook great St James Park. On the other end: buses, bustling tourists, shops, the National Gallery and Trafalgar Square fill the scene. You get the picture.
Admiralty Arch Gateway
As you step through the dark archways and emerge from gritty London to behold tranquil palaces, it is like entering a Narnian doorway.
There is traffic on the ‘other’ side. Yet, the streets are noticeably wider and the cars less intrusive. Travelling down along the Mall from Buckingham Palace is delightfully breathtaking. The ever-looming Admiralty Arch in the distance creates a perfect finishing touch.
I was surprised to learn that the Arch is a relative newcomer to the area. The British Government commissioned the Greco-Roman styled monument in Queen Victoria’s memory. Although the Arch was completed in 1910, it somehow has an older feel about it. Even the sculpture gazes down regally at the traffic passing through the dark archways. The bustle below almost seems to interrupt her ageless, deep contemplation.
Sunlit Sandstone and Shadows
Sunlight-drenched sandstone loses much of its details. Intense light has a way of accentuating true shadows and dissolving subtle details. To counteract this bleached effect, I allowed subtle colours to freely overpower the painting, adding their own character.
The archways themselves are dark black holes, absorbing sunlight and hinting at partial details.
Are they people or gates? It is hard to tell in the gloom. Even the cars, carved details, stonework, and flagpoles vanish.
The Arch was designed to impress as a suitable backdrop to state occasions and national celebrations. It harks back to the British Empire’s grand old days and a desire to show off to the world: “This is Great Britain, and we know how to impress.”