Access all Floors - ©2022 Cathy Read - 40x50cm - Watercolour and acrylic ink. Painting of a Decaying brick building in Manchester

If buildings could talk, what secrets would they reveal?

Original painting of Waterloo Station created by contemporary artist Cathy Read
Waterloo Station - ©2023 - Cathy Read - Watercolour and Acrylic -56 x 76cm

Have you ever looked at a building and wondered about its past? Evidence of history surrounds you, everywhere you look. Remember when you were a child, how everything felt big and scary? Now imagine experiencing where you are for the first time. What do you see? How high would your head be and how much more impressive would that make the sight? Maybe you’re imagining people living there and how they might live?

Look up!

When was the last time you looked above the shop fronts when walking down a high street? I’ve a painting of Fortnum and Mason and I’m often asked if the sculpture above the entrance is really there, by people who shop there every week.

FYI It’s been there since 2016 and was still there last time I visited. I believe it now has company.

I look for perspectives that capture this childlike sense of wonder, like looking at buildings looming overhead and feeling like they will fall on you. Or the fascination with everyday features that adults take for granted, such as drains, keyholes and railings.

The frontage of Fortnum and Mason paintingfeaturing the clock and Lynn Chadwick Sculpture King and Queen-Cathy Read-81-x-61cm-©2018
Fortnum and Mason-Cathy Read-81-x-61cm- ©2018
Painting of Piccadilly Circus with Anteros Sculpture and people milling around.

People, when present, merge with the built environment they inhabit, becoming a permanent feature that remains long after the people themselves have moved on. Like ghosts or spirits, their essence is captured and kept alive in a vibrant landscape. Forever an anonymous part of a narrative of that day.

My art captures memories and the mood of a moment in time. Buildings are built and inhabited by dreamers. It doesn’t matter the size of the dream, nothing happens that is not first imagined. I often wonder, if walls could speak what stories would they tell? Especially old buildings, but even new ones have potential. Can you imagine what events they’ll witness in the days to come?

Cultural Exchange is a Cathy Read painting in watercolour and acrylic inks depicting tourists on the National Gallery steps in Trafalgar Square in London.
Cultural Exchange - ©2020 - Cathy Read - Watercolour and Acrylic on paper - 56 x 76 cm

The longevity of architecture usually spans generations, so from its perspective, we must appear and disappear in the blink of an eye. Architecture connects us to the past and the future. Buildings, like historic churches, saw generations worship within their walls. Schools have see whole families, where would yours have gone? Even now, in our global society where we travel far from our roots, we return to certain buildings from our past for rituals and connection.

Painting of the Houses of Parliament at night- ©2014 - Cathy Read - Watercolour and Acrylic on paper on board -40 x 50 cm
Parliament at night - ©2014 - Cathy Read - Watercolour and Acrylic on paper - 40 x 50 cm

Architecture is as alive as the pople who inhabit it. When ever I enter a building I’m always curious who went there before me. Would you like to find out together?

Is there a building that you'd like me to imortalise? Let me know where and why in the comments.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top