If you want to know about a city, you ask its inhabitants and those who work in it. We’ve gone one step further however. We’ve asked the talented Southwark-based artists who are exhibiting at our current exhibition – London Bridge Hotel OPEN 3: Urban Nature, to explain how London and in particular, the Borough of Southwark, continually inspires them and their artistic endeavours and how visitors might tap into this important city of culture. This is Lucy Cooper’s Southwark.
How does living or working in Southwark inspire your artworks?
Where I live and work inspires my artworks enormously. I live near Greenland Dock and work in the News Building at London Bridge, commuting between the two by boat. This stretch of the River Thames, at the northern edge of the Borough of Southwark, has had an enormous influence on my art over the past few years. Both directly, in that many of my prints feature sights from or of the river, and maybe less obviously, from witnessing and observing the ever-changing water every day. Weather, seasons, tide, light and mood all affect the colours, patterns and textures created on the surface of the water, and I try to convey this in my art.
Docklands Posts Reflection: inspired by an everyday sight while waiting for the boat at Greenland Pier
Recently, my prints have been taking a more abstract direction. Yet while the original subject matter may as a result become increasingly ambiguous to the viewer, the starting point for me remains the same: reflections in the docks and River Thames around me – developed, distorted and re-imagined.
I expect I may be one of the few Londoners who positively enjoys their commute!
What attraction or aspect of Southwark would you recommend to a visiting tourist?
Take a boat down the river! It offers a unique view of London and is a great way to travel. As well as enabling you to see well-known sights from a different perspective – Tate Modern, St Paul’s Cathedral, The Shard, the Tower of London, to name a few – you also get to see lesser-known parts of London and get a real feel for the rich history of Southwark. In particular, seeing the bridges from the river, and sailing under them, is a wonderful experience – and thanks to the Illuminated River project, at night they’re particularly spectacular,
And if you don’t get onto the river itself, then don’t miss walking along it. Strolling along the South Bank is always a pleasure of course, but don’t forget the Thames path that takes you further east: a route less trodden, but fascinating to walk around Rotherhithe, and onto Greenland Dock and South Dock Marina. Not only are there wonderful views across the river to Canary Wharf, but you get a real sense of the dockland heritage of the area.
Looking across Greenland Dock towards Canary Wharf
From the south bank of the Thames at Rotherhithe, looking across to Canary Wharf
Does the long history of the Borough have any legacy bearing on your work, given South of the River was always the haunt of the artistic community?
It’s not a link that I’ve been particularly conscious of but I do find it stimulating living in such a creative part of London: being surrounded both by the number of artists who practise here and by the number of galleries and events that can be found here. And I love the almost palpable history of the borough, particularly around the docklands area where I live. It has seen and been shaped by so much change over the past few centuries and it can be quite affecting thinking of all the dockers who used to work here and the amount of activity there must have been.
How important, as an artist, is it to be in the capital?
Having moved back to London a few years ago, after living in Scotland for 20 years, I’ve found London both energizing and inspirational. For me it’s not only the opportunities that London may offer, but also the subject matter that it provides me as a photographer and printmaker.
Do exhibitions such as London Bridge Hotel OPEN 3: Urban Nature help to publicize your work/help your artistic CV?
Yes definitely: it’s a wonderful opportunity to show work in London, particularly as so many of my prints feature images of the local area. I particularly like the themed approach of the exhibition and seeing other artists’ interpretation of Urban Nature and their wonderful work.
What do you love most about what artworks you produce?
Two things: the exploration of colour and the sense of place.
Colour excites me, whether working digitally or with inks. I enjoy exploring colours that are both visually appealing but that also retain the feel or atmosphere of the sight that inspired me in the first place. I love the seemingly infinite possibilities of colour combinations and their ability to convey a mood, provoke curiosity, or stimulate a response. Recently I’ve been experimenting with a looser use of colour, developing the theme of reflections to create abstract screenprints where the colour palette may distort or even conflict with the essence of the starting point. This may result in the subject of the final artwork being ambiguous or unrecognizable, but strong colours are always central to my work.
I also like the fact that all my artworks have a sense of place to me. However far it may be developed and transformed, I always keep in mind where the image originated and the immediate response that it provoked in me. While to the viewer, many of my prints feature reflections on water that may seem quite generic, they all come from a place that I love or was inspired by, and that’s important to me.
Lucy is exhibiting two works at London Bridge Hotel OPEN3: Urban Nature – both are displayed in the hotel’s lobby, opposite the concierge desk.
Canary Wharf Reflections
Limited edition archival print
Framed size 60 cm x 60 cm / Unframed paper size 55 cm x 55 cm
Image size 45 cm x 45 cm
Edition of 20
Price framed: £160 / Price unframed: £100
Greenland Dock Reflection
Limited edition archival print
Framed size 52 cm x 72 cm / Unframed paper size 50 cm x 70 cm
Image size 40 cm x 56 cm
Edition of 20
Price framed: £160 / Price unframed: £120
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.