County Hall London glows brightly in dusk shadows. In this painting, Cathy Read depicts the building on London’s Southbank which faces breathtaking views of the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, and the London Eye.
The reference image was taken at dusk and the entire painting smoulders in the oncoming darkness. The rich, warm tones and shapes remind one of a fireplace: the façade’s curve, with its columns based in orange-reds with burnt umber and cold black. Even in the outside courtyard, a huddle of embers cool down on the embankment as a cold January evening begins. But within, all is warm, cosy and quiet.
County Hall London Background
County Hall served as the London County Council headquarters and Greater London Council until 1986. Ralph Knott designed the building and construction commenced in 1911 but two world wars delayed completion until 1958. Interestingly, during construction, a 3rd century Roman ship was discovered.
A Japanese company now owns County Hall and transformed it into bustling leisure complexes and tourist attractions including the Sea Life London Aquarium, London Dungeon, the London Film Museum and Shrek’s Adventure, as well as Premier Inn and London Marriott hotels.
Explore the details
In the painting there are plenty of people around, although they are difficult to make out. Groups merge into the colour and line. The odd individual, suggested by outline shadows, and people are interchangeable. As you decipher what you are looking at, frantic figures scurry along a narrow embankment strip heading home or set about on an adventure evening with friends.
In contrast, the orange walls, lined by columns and 16 flagpoles in regimental order along the lower roof edge, embrace the empty courtyard. The flagpoles each bear a country flag. We can see colours, but it is hard to tell which country and one wonders, “Why were those particular flags selected?”
If you lose your bearings, look above the main entrance or below the line of flags. Do you see the illuminated letters spelling out ‘County Hall’? Black cyphers, brightly backlit as beacons in the night. A curved blue band, studded with circular windows (some lit and others in darkness), draws your attention back to the left so that finally, your eye travels along the roof arch and swathe of terracotta tiles. The line sweeps around from bottom left to top right and beyond… where more yellow and gold fire burns brightly, beckoning you onward to a building on the right.
Where to now?