The Leadenhall Building – the Cheesegrater – is an imposing skyscraper towering over the City of London. 225 Metres tall. 52 Storeys high. One of the tallest buildings officially opened in 2014 – a date shared with the creation of this Cathy Read painting.
The distinctive wedge shape hints at the common kitchen utensil with the same name and is cheekily called “The Cheesegrater”. “Why did architects conceive the slanting profile?” Art can be reasonable, and this contemporary design confers a nod of respect to a protected Fleet Street view of the timeless St Paul’s Cathedral.
Yellow Hues Contrast with Blue
Yellow grabs your attention the moment you glance at the image. Lively ochre snippets are confined to the left – darting out along the margin and scatter in the bottom corner. These vibrant spots complement the bright red and blue switches which appear to fade away into the rest of the painting.
Or are your eyes drawn to notice the couple in foreground first? Holding hands, the warm yellow tones mingle as the golden hue of his trousers flows upwards into her tanned arm. The human touch contrasts starkly with a geometric feel as the buildings dwarf the people below.
The Cheesegrater covers nearly half the visual space. It has an unfinished feel leaving you almost waiting for the builders to add final steel wedges and yet surely, they would have done so by now? Industrial blues, dark indigo and marine, dominate the rest of the cityscape. Impossible darks obscure the lines within the adjacent Lloyds Building. It is there…but vanishes as you peer into the dark recesses.
Cheesegrater Speculation Fun
More people move along the pavement across the road. Stick figures wander around in the background, while the couple firmly holding hands appear oblivious. Where are they going? Are they out for a day about town? Or maybe on their way home?
Half the fun is in speculation.
Finally, allow your eyes to perceive the paint textures – blown ink lines and blooms on the dark windows. Then travel back to the perspective. I’ve deliberately left in the looming effect caused by photography. I want you to gaze up and see The Cheesegrater and surrounding buildings converge in the sky. How they seem to be coming in towards you, ready to topple and you search for a way of escape.