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. Dick Graham shares his Southwark with us.
How does living or working in Southwark inspire your artworks?
Most of my art is based on what I see around me so, in that sense, Southwark inspires much of the work I produce.
What attraction or aspect of Southwark would you recommend to a visiting tourist?
When abroad I enjoy wandering around looking at shops,markets, cafes and bars and seeing how people live and I’d recommend a visitor to Southwark do the same and, once they’d done the touristy bits, take time to explore other parts of Southwark they might otherwise miss out on.
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?
There have been many influences on my work but none, that I’m aware of, specifically related to Southwark’s historic artistic legacy.
How important, as an artist, is it to be in the capital?
Most of my art involves drawing people in various settings and living in London provides an abundance of opportunities for such work. Also, I’m a city person and although I enjoy travelling I’m always glad to get back to London – I don’t wish to live anywhere else.
Do exhibitions such as London Bridge Hotel OPEN 3: Urban Nature help to publicize your work/help your artistic CV?
Yes, undoubtedly, exhibitions such as the London Bridge Hotel Open 3, and the associated publicity, help artists raise their profile. It also gives a boost to be selected to take part and exhibit one’s work.Most people rarely, if ever, visit an art gallery. I think that exhibiting artwork in public spaces, such as the London Bridge Hotel, is a great idea. It is a welcome move to make art more accessible and ideally should happen on a larger scale. Why not in supermarkets and shopping centres, workplaces and fast food restaurants – places frequented by large numbers of people who might otherwise never see original artwork.
What do you love most about what artworks you produce?
Much of my work, such as my current project of documenting the volunteers and clients of food banks in Southwark run by Pecan, brings me into direct contact with people. I am used to people watching me work, discussing what I’m doing and telling me what they think about my efforts. Working in this way does put me under pressure as I feel that I’m expected to produce something reasonable whereas working at home or in a studio allows me to simply follow the flow and see what happens. Working in the latter surroundings I can find myself entirely caught up in what I’m doing and not conscious of what’s around me. I find that doesn’t happen nearly so much when I have an audience.
Dick is exhibiting his hand-printed lino-cut, Fox in my Garden in the London Bridge Hotel OPEN3: Urban Nature exhibition and it’s located in Quarter Bar & Lounge, on a pillar near the Bar entrance:
Fox in My Garden
Hand printed lino-cut
34 cm x 28 cm (includes frame)
Framed print £100; unframed prints £45
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