I got caught in one of those ‘spoilt for choice’ situations in London recently. All artists get it at some point.
You really want to go out and paint something though you don’t have a clue what you want to paint.
You are in London where the choices are so vast you end up wandering about with your mouth open unable to make that final, perfect decision.
If I ever get into this conundrum, I put 15 minutes on my watch, and make my decision in that time. Whatever is in front of me then is the subject, no matter what. So how I came to paint the entrance of Liverpool Street station was by pure chance. That said, I am glad I did.
I managed to position myself opposite the main entrance and made a note to capture the too-ing and fro-ing of the station users. A good site and right outside a coffee shop for refreshments.
The two columns in orange London Brick were central to the composition. Very Victorian, sturdy and substantial, I would, however, not be at all surprised if even regular visitors to that station have never noticed them. The Londoner tends to look forward or down. Rarely up.
It was sunny on a Friday afternoon, so we had a mix of the usual city types, and people coming to London for visits. I noted them as they passed, loitered or casually smoked a cigarette prior to a train’s arrival. It all felt very relaxed which is unusual for London on any day let alone a Friday.
I suppose I was working just before the evening rush. Even to the right, the normally frenetic Mc Donald’s had some rather incongruous ‘Paris Café scene’ feel about it. I decided not to question it all. London is never totally predictable.
I noted a small gathering of girls. I decided that they had all probably just arrived in from Essex, and were here for a Hen Weekend. There was just something about them that said they were steeling themselves up for a party.
I worked steadily until the light changed too much, and I felt I had enough to finish off back at the studio.
A bit about Liverpool Street Station
This station is the main station north out of The City of London which is the heart of the UK’s Banking Industry.
It was opened in 1874 as part of the massive rail expansion of Britain’s Industrial Revolution and has been serving London nonstop ever since.
Train stations are fascinating places as they naturally have the great human stories of arrival and departure about them which in my own small way I aimed to capture in my painting.
It was one of the main arrival stations for the Kindertransport (the saving of Jewish Children from the Nazis) into the UK from Europe. There is a memorial here behind the railing commemorating the 10,000 that the UK eventually saved.
You can also find a large marble memorial to the 1,000 local railway employees who died during World War One. It was unveiled by Sir Henry Wilson. On his return home from the unveiling ceremony, however, Wilson was assassinated by the Irish Republican Army. Ominously, he himself was then added to the very same memorial to the dead he unveiled just one month prior. How odd is that.
In the late eighties and early nineties the station went into a large refurbishment. Thankfully, much of the original structure was saved for us to enjoy today, including a lovely Victorian arcade, which was due for the chop , though was saved at the last minute by a public campaign.
I have used Liverpool Street Station over many years and it has good memories, and is a lovely space as well.
So if you are passing through the station one day don’t’ just rush out the door, take time to notice it all. It’s certainly worth it.
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