South Kensington Station – Original painting
About the Image
There’s something about it that suggests that it should comfortably nestle in the Paris Metropole; not be set against the most English of English backdrops – London.
The swirling iron curls frame exotic lettering. Your eyes are arrested to decipher the words. Metropolitan. District Railways. South Kensington Station.
Mysterious ink lettering
‘South Kensington Station’ shines mysteriously with gold lettering picked out in shimmering inks. Even the shadows glitter with a sky-blue lustre. Scribbles and squiggles glow yellow against deep purple shadows. Notice the textures. Words tease the senses – at once dominating and then suddenly obscuring their meaning.
Recreating signs and posters at an angle alter what you see. It plays tricks on your mind to lose messages and meanings in the process. You hesitate bemused, “I wonder what they say?”
Roman columns stand sentry at either side of the central entrance to give your eye a reprieve before surging onward into the visual mystery. They follow the signs that curve around the columns (each illuminated by a single light clasped in a curling black iron bracket). At last your focus travels upward to settle on a familiar red circle – fixed to the wall and pierced through by a white pole at the centre – the underground sign.
But…hang on. Why is that solid underground sign untethered?
Poles, planted securely in the ground, hold up signs. This one has the lower half swept away. It hangs incomplete. A magic trick that never ends – pointlessly unnecessary.
Standing back to survey the station in its solid fullness, musings rush out with impish cheekiness. How much of the station’s decoration was practical necessity? The designers and builders really went to town on this one. Why pull out all the stops to entice people into a mystical tour? What harm is there in a little playful illusion – if they notice? Maybe with everything else they see that little detail will be missed. And magic is all smoke and mirrors after all!
South Kensington Station Painting: A tantalising portal
I took the reference photograph in passing – just as you might give it a cursory nod on an ordinary day. Yet the completed painting mysteriously beckons to you to stop as it reveals a tantalising glimpse inside. The curved arches and framed sunlight reveal themselves only in part. The image tempts you to enter now. “Come and enjoy the full splendour of my glazed vaulted ceiling.”
The South Kensington Station painting might leave you feeling simultaneously duped, and party to a delicious secret conspiracy. Because, just maybe, the station is more than a practical portal to a world-famous cultural quarter and popular tourist destinations.
Creation: Masking fluid is painted onto watercolour paper to create an image. This is covered with a watercolour wash and covered with clingfilm. The picture is further developed using acrylic inks once the film is removed. The masking is removed after several layers are added and allowed to dry. Revealing the final picture.
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