This painting of Battersea Power Station, London is available to buy here as a limited edition print.
I first moved to London in 1988 and I could see Battersea Power Station from the Portsmouth train coming into Waterloo. As I looked at it, someone told me that it was going to be renovated next year to give it a new life. Well that sounds good I thought.
Well, 23 years later, I was still hearing the same story. ‘Next year all will change’ and next year would arrive and still not a single digger or workman could be seen on the site. Nothing had changed.
Finally, in the very year I left London to live in Somerset, we received news that it really was going to be renovated and that all the contracts were to be signed.
It struck me then that I had never painted this wonderful structure in all my years living in the capital. I made it my business to do a painting of it prior to its renovation, before the proposed apartments pop up behind it and change the silhouette for good.
About Battersea Power Station.
Battersea Power Station is a decommissioned coal-fired power station located on the south bank of the River Thames, in Battersea, an inner-city district of South West London.
It was designed by Sir Gilbert Scott. He was also responsible for The Tate Modern, which of course, was also a power station, Liverpool Cathedral and Waterloo Bridge which was built almost entirely by women, and under fire by enemy aircraft too.
Gilbert Scott’s most famous design, however, was a rather more diminutive structure, the original red telephone box.
The power station comprises: two individual power stations, built in two stages in the form of a single building.
The first stage was in the 1930s, and had only two chimneys, until the second stage was built in the 1950s and is now one of London’s most iconic buildings. Later, made even more famous on the cover of the Pink Floyd album ‘Animals’.
Drawing and painting Battersea Power Station.
I mused on painting the power station from Chelsea Bridge, and even did a quick watercolour of it on a postcard to give me a bit of an idea.
On reflection, however, I felt that a view right opposite on the north bank in Chelsea would give me what I wanted. That said, I offered the postcard on Twitter and it went viral. The winner was someone in Seattle of all places.
I did a rough drawing first which seemed to work out OK. I pulled in a pleasure boat in the front as they popped and rumbled by every half hour or so, and I got treated to the tannoy of the tour guide telling me all about the power station’s history.
After this I made a more detailed drawing. I moved things around a bit to show all four chimneys properly. It was a bit of a trick to get it to look right though I got there in the end.
At this stage, I could have completed the whole piece in the studio, although I wanted to get down on the river and do it live.
Interestingly, local people stopped by and said. ‘It was going to be renovated next year to give it a new life.’ And for once they were right.