No one captures the quintessence of London as Rotherhithe artist Ed Gray does, and an upcoming exhibition – Londonessence: Dust and Shadows – will show an exemplary selection of his London works along with the much-anticipated new painting, ‘The Adoration of Thomas A Becket’ Old Kent Road, that shows that ancient thoroughfare in all its cheapest-on-the-Monopoly-board glory.
All walks of life can be seen here in a moment in time that seems on the move rather than frozen on canvas. The painting is full of allegorical imagery- footprints, shells and bones, all symbols of pilgrimage and migration.
There are hidden secrets in the artwork that the artist let me into: shards of glass, and knives and blades that were, ultimately, the end of Thomas of Becket, and, perhaps, a catalyst for the non-renewal of the pub’s licence in more recent times.
Gray explained how and why shells became symbols of the pilgrims, but, as the artist says, ‘Ultimately this is just a painting of the people I saw on a street in London. It’s a celebration of the people of the city, past and present.’
Alongside this new painting Gray will be exhibiting prints of past glories, including: Millwall Matchday, Whitechapel, Mile End Underground, Notting Hill Carnival and Liverpool Street Station; all fantastic depictions of our great city and populace.
On July 5th ‘The Spirit and Spirits of London’ is a free event at 6pm-8pm, and features South London’s spiritually soulful Mike King Collective – one of the best UK Gospel choirs, followed by a full band collaboration between Burton Bradstock and students from the Music Composition BA hons course at the London Centre for Contemporary Music in Blackfriars, playing music that captures the spirit and essence of the London paintings.
Drag artiste Malaka Swanson will make an appearance in full Bowie gear, hoping to channel the spirit of the original London Boy. Music hall act Viv the Spiv will also be on hand to entertain the crowd with spirited Spivvery of days gone by.
Ed Gray will be giving a free tour of the show on Saturday 9th July at 11am booking through email@example.com. It is at these guided talks that you get the true inside stories on these classic works. Londonessence: Dust and Shadows Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA Two minutes from Shoreditch High Street Overground Station 6th July – 28th July 2016 (Free entry)