Life From A Window : Our London

Keira’s school recently had a ‘Take Your Daughter To Work’ day, which we managed to coincide with an experimental day of live painting at the London offices of AECOM. We were invited to explore the theme of ‘Our London’ for the day, and we duly headed into town on the Overground train during rush hour (I was keen to give Keira the full commuting experience!) to get to work.

We set up in the main reception area on the 16th floor, overlooking the city of London. The view from the window is spectacular – even on a wet cloudy day like the one we had. Keira and I were keen to contrast the wide panoramic view of a wealthy city as seen from the window, with a more close up view of the streets immediately surrounding the building we worked in. We also wanted to involve other people in our work.

People began to show curiosity in what we were doing, so we engaged them in conversations about the view, and about their experiences of London and the local area. We spoke about how the view changes according to time of day, seasons, weather etc. Several folk suggested a series of works to reflect these changes. The view at night came up a few times, and we sought to represent that in a painting. We also invited people to take photographs out of the window, without being any more specific than that.

People also spoke with us about the streets of London, and transport came up a fair bit so we made a street scene using paint for the ‘map’ and polaroids taken by Keira at street level, to represent some of what we heard in the conversations.

We made some geometric abstractions of buildings/cityscape – and experimented with some tracing overlays too, as a way of acknowledging the different ways people described ‘Our London’.

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We had planned to turn everyone’s photographs into a collage cityscape, and we ran into some technical printing difficulties on the day, so that part of the project remains a work in progress.

Life From A Window

The idea was to invite people to engage, thank you to the many people who responded to that invitation. We used what we learned to inform and conduct some small experiments, and we observed how we and others responded to what was going on.

We had a really interesting time. There was no grand plan at this stage, just an opportunity to drop something different into the working day, a small stone which set off a series of ripples.


This work would not have been possible without Keira, and the support of Malcolm, Hilary, and Sharon at AECOM, thank you all. The team at reception supported us well, and encouraged folk to interact with us, thank you. Thanks to everyone who took time to speak with us, suggest ideas, and take photographs.

Sometimes The Angels Punish Us, By Answering Our Prayers.

I’m in the final stages of preparation for my submission to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. In the run up to a decision like this, there’s a strong whiff of doubt in the air…will I be able to come up with anything vaguely good enough…?

At first I had it in mind to rework a failed experiment which you can see emergeĀ here a couple of days ago, and I thought it was the one. Since then I’ve been reminded of this piece (painted in October 2017) which I am considering…


…and then with just a day or two remaining I made this, a return to my recent angel designs. This is the largest of them to date, painstakingly crafted onto an 80cm x 30cm canvas.


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I like them all. Now here I am – with too many choices, and only a day left to decide. Sometimes The Angels Punish Us, By Answering Our Prayers.

On the plus side at least I have choices to make, much better to be in that position than staring at a blank canvas at this very late stage! This deadline has galvanised me to produce some interesting work.

Footnote 1: For completeness, this is the other painting I am currently considering. Acrylic applied with fingers and a palette knife, on a 75cm x 50cm canvas.


Footnote II. Re: Winged Angels, in other news it’s the 20th anniversary of the unveiling of The Angel Of The North this week, cool huh.

Footnote III. I opted for the black and blue piece, titling it ‘The Gathering’. Let’s see how I get on…

Which Way Is Up?

This weekend I am finalising my submission for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. The deadline for applications is February 14th, and as the theme this year is ‘Art Made Now’, I’m planning on delivering something current.

As you can see, in the last 24 hours this canvas has undergone quite a transformation.

I took the art work outside today – to see how it photographs in daylight. As I was putting the art on the easel – I realised I couldn’t decide which way is up. Can you?

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Here are a couple of close ups, and a shot of the work in direct sunlight. I made this art on a 75cm x 50cm linen canvas, using acrylic paint, my fingers, and a palette knife.