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The A to B of Londoners' lives
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 gold medal winner Jessica Taylor will have her work displayed in the new south entrance of Blackfriars Station, as well as being awarded £1,500 worth of artists' materials.
"I used tickets that I had saved from my journey to art school and a trip I took to London for my sisters birthday celebrations," says Jessica, who lives in Portsmouth. "I knew being a hoarder would pay off eventually. I interlaced these with images I found of old Blackfriars tickets, bringing together my own personal history with that of the station."
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.
Exhibiting for the first time is straight A student Arta Ajeti from Mill Hill. Turning 18 this month, Arta is in her final year of A-levels at Henrietta Barnet School but it was touch and go that her painting Yes, Rachel depicting her friend standing opposite Golders Green Station, made it to the gallery. Returning home from holiday to find she had been shortlisted, Arta contacted her school but her art teacher was away and had locked her work in a cupboard, as it was A-level coursework. Luckily, Arta managed to collect and frame her work for the exhibition deadline in the nick of time.
“The whole project for AS level has been about getting right focus,” says Arta. “I like to experiment with photography creating multiple exposures and layering images to bring the foreground out in your face against a dreamy background.”
Barnet artist Renos Lavithis is exhibiting at London Lives for the second year running. Renos who worked for the Daily Mail in Fleet Street for many years, knows his locations well. Last year, his work – A View From Top of St Paul’s made the shortlist and his current image is entitled Under The Embankment Bridge, which although differently executed, is once again in his traditional and distinctive style of ink-pencil-wash on watercolour paper.
“Under The Embankment Bridge is a contrast of sculptural engineering shapes, the calmness of the river and the majestic Houses of Parliament,” says Renos.
“As our dear London is coming out of its worst recent nightmare, and back into life, an exhibition such as London Lives at Bankside Gallery is most appropriate. Our great City deserves top coverage, especially in the year leading to the London Olympics.”
Also exhibiting is Friern Barnet artist Sam Dashiell Jackson whose entry Run, Run, Run in acrylic and charcoal on canvas looks ultra-futuristic as the figures descend into a tube corridor. Travel Mug is the title of Tufnell Park resident, Sally Jane Fuerst’s drawings, which scooped the Silver Award. The judges were impressed by Sally's play on words – her image looks like something you’d find on a souvenir cup or tea towel from the tube’s gift range but it also sums up that we are mugs for putting up with delays and overcrowding on London’s public transport system.
London Lives runs until September 18 at Bankside Gallery, 48 Hopton Street, Bankside. Open daily from 11am-6pm. Details: 020 7928 7521, firstname.lastname@example.org