The A to B of Londoners' lives

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Stratford Olympic Park January 2009 by Lynne Blackburn Stratford Olympic Park January 2009 by Lynne Blackburn

Building on the success of the first London Lives competition last year, Bankside Gallery has invited artists to submit entries that capture the spirit of travel: from the morning commuter rush, to the excitement of a family day trip, or arriving in a foreign country. The shortlist of 100 paintings is now on display at the gallery and the gold medal winner will have their work displayed in the new south entrance of Blackfriars Station, as well as being awarded £1,500 worth of artists' materials.

London Lives: Travel, which runs until September 18 features several notable London landmarks such as Blackfriars Bridge and Hungerford Bridge, St Pancras, Piccadilly, The London Eye and Stratford Olympic Park as well as lesser known areas we pass through on the way from A to B. The paintings depict various modes of transport too from trips down The Thames to cycling, buses, trains, The DLR, the Tube or on foot.

Printmaker Lynne Blackburn used to work in Stratford but rising rent prices have led her to operate her screenprinting business from her home on a farm in Seven Kings, near Ilford.

Her London Lives entry, a monoprint with screenprint is titled Stratford Olympic Park January 2009.

Lynne began by taking photographs of the Stratford site at the early stages of its development and then went on to create screenprints from these. “This work is part of a series,” says Lynne. “There are another two in an exhibition at Foreman’s Smokehouse Gallery in Hackney, as part of the East London Printmakers show and another copy is going to an international print festival in China.”

Lynne has been a member of the printmakers group in Mare Street for the past eight years. After art college, she went on to do an MA in printmaking at Camberwell College of Arts and now works as a self-employed screen printer. Lynne’s works have a down-to-earth feel that captures the nature of their transitional locations.

“I enjoy that aspect of urban living,” she says. “Some people enjoy the rural element but I’m interested in the sense of decay you feel in an area that is rapidly being replaced by new buildings.

“This series is like a kind of documentary in a way. It’s not as figurative as the other works in the show but it records the changes in the area. I have mixed feelings because iconic images such as the Carpenters Road fridge mountains have gone but the regeneration of Stratford is good for London.”

Among the shortlisted exhibitors is Haringey artist Alan Elliott with his colourful acrylic painting Time Traveller Street, looking at how his neighbourhood has changed over the years. “I’ve lived in Haringey for 25 years,” says Alan. “I’ve been painting on and off since I was a child. I grew up in Manor Park, east London and spent my teenage years in Essex. “Mick Inkpen, the children’s author and artist (creator of Kipper) was in my class at school and was my art rival.” Alan tells me the original title for the piece was Archaeology Street because it held layers of history. “It is loosely based on the street I lived in as a kid, which was pulled down as ‘slum housing’ and also on the one I live in now – Craven Park Road. “What the painting says is what the viewer sees which is simply the history of housing – clean and new...then getting smoggy and grimy... being bombed.... getting grimier... kids playing safely (we think)... stray dogs... cars becoming more and more common.. litter and street dumping becoming common... houses going from private landlords to publicly owned then to personalised properties... TV aerials changing to satellite dishes... speed bumps... etc. “It’s really just history in layers and as such we can debate the changes for what they’re worth.”

London Lives runs until September 18 at Bankside Gallery, 48 Hopton Street, Bankside. Open daily from 11am-6pm. Details: 020 7928 7521.

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