Here Comes A City

An Interview with Marc Gooderham

As the face of London changes seemingly overnight, local artist Marc Gooderham has made it his mission to capture these views of the city, the architecture of crumbling and faded grandeur, that are beginning to vanish before our eyes. In the run up to his exhibition Here Comes A City, opening February 8th 2018, we took the opportunity to ask Marc about his paintings and his project.

What is your artistic weapon of choice? Pencil, pen, paintbrush, digital….

There are two. Naturally the paintbrush, but also the highly underrated yet extremely versatile piece of chalk!

studio

How long have you been painting and drawing? When did you start out?

As far back as I can remember. As a child I would sit and draw for hours. Still lifes, portraits, intricate buildings using pen and ink. The first piece of art I sold was to my art teacher at school. He kindly parted with £150 for a still life piece. As a kid, this was all very exciting. I tried not to let that first sale go to my head…honestly.

All your pieces come from real locations, mostly in London. What is it about the urban landscape that appeals to you?

I’ve always lived in London, so it’s a place I know and love. A place of intrigue and new experiences. It’s the contrast of old and new and glimmers of a forgotten time that really appeal to me.

Buildings with a fallen, crumbling exterior always hold an evocative beauty. Cities are a physical thing, they’re made up of lines and interesting forms, and the complexities of architecture and perspective can be challenging at times. But it’s all these things that make it the perfect subject to paint. Buildings command our attention. They’re our homes, places of work, places we admire and fall in love with. They help us navigate our way through life.

What is your process for working on a new piece? 

The only real way of getting to know a city is by walking it. Familiarising myself with the street level views. Making preparatory sketches and photographs. Revisiting a potential location at different times of day – sketch as much as possible! It has to have all the right components, which help make the final composition. Light and shade, suggestions of human life, a glow or reflection in a window, lights shimmering in the distance. These all give harmony and unity to a picture. Once these are in place, I begin work in the studio.

You are now working more with chalk pastels instead of painting, was there anything in particular that drew you to a new medium?

Working with charcoal and chalk pastels has been quite a liberating experience. I am still painting, producing large canvas pieces each month, again of the urban landscape.  I will always paint, however the pastel/charcoal lends itself to working quickly and more instinctively, 50% of the picture is created using my fingers.  There isn’t a lot of room for mistakes which adds to the excitement of this medium, speed is of the essence! It’s about capturing a certain feel or atmosphere and ultimately exercising the art of freehand drawing. It gives the artist a sketch – like fluidity.

Do find yourself returning to locations?

All of time. The locations are very familiar to me. Old haunts or places I have lived naturally become the subject of my work. The city is changing at such a rapid pace, there will always be a new discovery.

What is your favourite takeaway?

 Quite simply ‘Babur To Go.

Studio 2

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Introducing Marc Gooderham

A new exhibition went up in the shop over the weekend and I’m very excited to let you know all about it. There’s an element of the outside coming in here as there’s a few immediately recognisable local street scenes from the surrounding East End.

Marc has put together a series of Limited Edition Prints concentrating on the city’s decaying and unique architecture. They capture the singular beauty to be found in those neglected buildings that have fallen into disrepair as the living city of London continues to evolve around them.

“I had always set out to paint the city I knew and which is close to my heart. Avoiding the repetitiveness of London’s landmarks depicted in many paintings my aim was to capture an alternative view of the city. As much as I love the monumental buildings that create our skyline, it was the side streets and alleyways that seemed to hold a mystery for me.

I love the freedom of the city, getting lost in the crowds. It can be claustrophobic yet there’s also the feeling of loneliness and isolation. It’s these feelings that allow you to create your own world within the city.The atmosphere can change according to weather, season and the time of day, which makes it the perfect subject to paint. It can be the drama of sunlight hitting a window or the glow of a street lamp or chimney tops against an unsettling sky.

I began to explore the East London streets discovering something magical and new each time. I saw the street corners in a different light, almost appearing as cinematic compositions. I was able to visualise them from reality to canvas.”

Fashion Street
Fashion Street by Marc Gooderham

As the face of London changes overnight, it’s apparent that these views of the city, the architecture of crumbling and faded grandeur are beginning to vanish before our eyes. Desolate buildings, with their peeling paint, numberless front doors, and glimpses into empty rooms through uncurtained windows invite contemplation – of the lives once lived here, and the new lives that continue to do so.

Wilton's Music Hall
The Music Maker by Marc Gooderham

The Music Maker illustrates the facade of the famous Wilton’s Music Hall, an example of London’s decaying and unique architecture, beautiful and decorative buildings that appear desolate, living on amidst an ever-evolving city. The layers of paint applied to Wilton’s exterior over the years chime with the generations of Londoners ushered through her doors to enjoy music, variety and spectacle. Even if you’ve ever passed the building you can imagine the revelry and cabaret emanating from within. Though paint may fade, Wilton’s Music Hall remains one of the most colourful places in the East End.

Late Afternoon, Spitalfields
Late Afternoon, Spitalfields by Marc Gooderham

Marc’s prints are currently on display at Of Cabbages & Kings