©2013 - Cathy Read - Anonymous in the City - Watercolour and Acrylic- 40 x 50 cm

Anonymous City

Ever been lost in a city?

Most people have at some time or other. Especially when they don’t know it. Every city has it’s iconic places. The buildings that define it, that tell you about a place. Where you instantly recognise what and where they are from their outline. Eiffel Tower, Sidney Opera House, Tower Bridge to name but a few.

How should we describe this, urban bland?

The anonymous city exists in every major urban development. Not every building is distinctive and much of the architecture is less familiar to those who don’t live there. Yes there is architecture that is unique to a location. Historic styles that emerged independently and characterise a city or country. You may well be able to tell what city you are in from these but not necessarily where you are.

Where am I?

For this painting I wanted to create that sense of “being lost” not just locally but that you could be anywhere. Deliberately finding a spot that only those familiar with the area would instantly recognise, and maybe not even then. A spot that would give no clue to an outsider where it was, just that it was a city.

©2013 - Cathy Read - Anonymous in the City - Watercolour and Acrylic- 40 x 50 cm

In our times of international developments and corporate images a building could as easily be in London, New York, Sidney or Dubai. Styles are reproduced and copied. Visit one of these developments then look up away from signs and you could imagine you’re in any city in the world.

Why be bland though?

To be bland and uniform is not necessarily the intend. Building regulations, economy of mass production and common requirements predict certain elements like door and window sizes are similar. Building materials have similar properties. People like to use tried and trusted building methods. There are many good and valid practical reasons for creating similar architecture.


Trends shared internationally are nothing new, when the first catherdrals were built new ideas were copied from other countries. Good ideas spread but with the speed of modern communications these trends are accelerated.

Fortunately with buildings there is still a time limiting factor of construction. Fantastical ideas may exist in the architects head but,  the construction time will still be the limited by physical restraints.

Do you recognise the anonymous city or are you one of those rare breed who always know where they are?

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