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‘Nostalgic Street Party’


When I painted this canvas a few years ago it was done after I had had an enquiry about maybe doing a series of nostalgic images. The theme was for the elderly to look back and remember, even to try and jog the memories of those finding life hard to recall as they had developed mental degeneration. Sadly the inquiry came to nothing in the end due to funding and the like, but it sparked some thoughts within me of how I would approach this if I had been commissioned? I set about trying to ask some elderly people if they had any old photographs of street parties from around the war time. As the question must have spread, amongst people, I was eventually given on loan some old photographs to see if they would help my ideas. Sifting through the images I came upon the family/friends above. The image was very poor as the photograph wasn’t or had never been in an album. It was a very close up picture with absolutely no background in shot at all. I looked at the small tea party of maybe grandma organising table, Father enjoying a cup of tea,  the little girl too eager to sit down with excitement. Mum maybe, crouching at the side to talk to the young man, who not wanting to waste a crumb in those hard times, looked like he was tracing the last remnants off his plate, while his sister/friend stood by. I tried to image if I had been there behind them, what and how would the street look (Might add at this stage I am not old enough by far to have been around then!!!) I do remember however when I was very young, staying with my grand parents in their small terrace house with cobbled back streets in Manchester. The scene above that I imagined, is what I painted as the backdrop to the family tea/street party. I wanted to put as much perspective into the canvas as I could stretch, taking it further and further back. Almost in the same way I would have wanted to take the elderly back with their memories, stretching their minds to times which they might remember with happy, fond and nostalgic memories. The reason also I painted them in sepia tones was to give them warmth as the initial black and white proposition I think would have been too stark and harsh for the approach I wanted to achieve. The most important part of the painting, to me, will always be the perspective though. I achieved it even more in this picture than I thought possible. When the picture is hung on the wall and you look directly at it, yes obviously you see into the picture with depth, but walk so you are standing against the wall it is hung on and look sideways at it an you still travel down the street, it is almost like when eyes follow you around the room on a portrait!! Amazing, even to me, and I painted it!!!

Below is a photograph taken from the side to try and highlight what I mean (This picture is on  a 100 cm x 100 cm box canvas and painted with emulsion paints and varnished with water based non yellowing varnish)